'We will keep you here.' In 2006, Sophia Bush was on the cover of Maxim. It wasn't optional.

This week, One Tree Hill actresses Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton, and Bethany Joy Lenz opened up about their terrible experiences on the set of the popular teen drama series.

We already knew things were bad behind the scenes because of the open letter the three actors, plus 16 other women from both cast and crew, published in Variety in November 2017. In the letter, the 18 women accused showrunner Mark Schwahn of sexual harassment and offered their support to former One Tree Hill writer Audrey Wauchope, who first raised the sexual harassment claims on Twitter.

"Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress," part of the letter read. "Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be. Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatising, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened."

While Schwahn has never addressed the allegations, he was subsequently and swiftly fired from TV show The Royals and has been out of work - and out of sight - since. 

Watch the opening credits of One Tree Hill. Story continues below.

Video via Warner Bros/CW.

Once the accusations were out in the open, people involved in One Tree Hill - primarily women - felt free to address the numerous instances where they've felt violated and bullied.

Which brings us to this week. In the most recent episode of their podcast Drama Queens, co-hosted by Bush, Burton, and Lenz, the women discussed at length what happened when Bush, Burton, and fellow One Tree Hill alum Danneel Ackles were on the cover of international men's magazine Maxim in 2006. [The show ran from 2003 to 2012 and had eight seasons in total.]

The women's Maxim cover ran a month after a similar storyline happened on the show, where Ackles' character Rachel was on the cover of Maxim's issue of Hometown Hotties. 

"Because Brooke [Bush's character] had been so sexualised on the show and the whole idea of this 'hometown hottie' and Rachel's storyline, I was like, 'Look, if the girls want to do it, that's great. I don’t. I have gone to battle trying to make Brooke less of this thing that you guys tried to force me into. 'I don't want to do it'," Bush recalled.

"I literally got told, 'If you do not go and shoot this cover with your co-stars, we will guarantee you that you will never be let out for a press day, a movie, an event, any of your charities. We will keep you here forever'."

Schwahn manipulated them into doing the shoot by telling them no one else wanted to feature them in their magazine.

"I remember getting pulled into a production office. I sat on the floor while our boss was on the couch as we were given this very friendly soft pitch that was, 'Look, all the other shows have been on the cover of every single magazine, and no one wants you guys. No one wants you. And you finally have someone that wants you, and you’re really going to turn your nose up at that?'" Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer, said.


"It was very much a 'No one else wants you. The studio wants to cancel your show. If you don't start to generate some buzz and attract these male numbers, then we're dead and all your friends are going to lose their jobs'. And it's your fault."

Bush in character as Brooke, holding the Maxim cover featuring Ackles's character Rachel. Image: One Tree Hill.


Bush spoke about feeling threatened if she did not do the shoot.

"You know what's interesting about it for me, it's about agency. At that time, I said, 'No I don't want to do this,' and I was told I had to. And I hear you on the 'Where was your manager?' (referencing a question from Lenz) but what's a manager going to do?... They can keep you on the ground if they want to," Bush said.

"It was such a profound threat and a threat to, honestly, even having the ability to escape for a weekend, a place that at this stage, this season, I was leaving every chance I got. I would come into work, do my job and I wanted out. I wanted to go home, I wanted to be with my family, I wanted to be with my friends. I did not want to be on our set; it was not a safe place for me. This was such a threat to safety."

She spoke about the day of the shoot and thinking how beautiful Burton and Ackles looked. "We look uncomfortable [in the photos], but in the room, I remember looking at my friends who look stunning, and who do look like these '50s pin-up girls, and thinking, this should be so fun but it's miserable because we didn't choose it."

During the cover shoot, Schwahn showed up with a gift for Burton only, an iPod filled with songs, in order to sow jealousy amongst the women and put them in their place.

Listen to The Spill, Mamamia's entertainment podcast. Story continues below.

"We were all pitted against each other, and this is a great example of that... [I was told] 'The girls are off doing their Maxim shoot and they replaced you with Danneel, Joy'... They told me they didn't come to me because I was too fat and I wasn't a hot girl on the show anymore," Lenz revealed, much to the shock of her co-hosts.


Bush and Burton were told at the time that Lenz said no to the shoot. "They said, 'Well she said no, so you have to say yes'," Bush recalled. "They scapegoated you to tell the three of us we couldn't say no... We weren’t mad at you but we were p*ssed about it."

"Wow," Lenz replied, shocked. "They never even asked me."

Lenz went on to talk about how she was viewed differently after she got married. "It started with the end of the last episode, a comment that Rachel makes, 'You're a fat girl with a little head'. I remember reading that on paper and just being like, What? It’s so random. That actually must be what [Schwahn] thinks of me'. Sometimes someone will say something to you and you're like, 'I never, ever, saw myself that way.' Now suddenly, every time I look in the mirror, I'm like, 'Am I fat? I guess I do kind of have a little head, is that bad? Is that unattractive?' It’s so dumb but it really followed me around for a long time in my brain."

Bush spoke about how married women were viewed as "less f**kable" by men in the industry. "Our sexiness, our femininity, our ability to connect, doesn't change whether we're married or not, whether we're 20 or 40. Maybe it's gauche or whatever to say, but I think we're all a sh*t ton hotter now than we were then."

Feature Image: One Tree Hill. 

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