The actresses, who starred as Brooke Davis, Peyton Sawyer and Haley James Scott on the WB/CW teen drama, got candid about an unpleasant photoshoot experience they had during the series’ run.
Chatting together on the “Drama Queens” podcast Monday, Bush and Burton claimed they were goaded into shooting a suggestive cover for Maxim magazine, while Lenz revealed she was excluded from the shoot because of her weight.
Bush added that the experience violated her agency and contributed to her feeling of being unsafe on the “One Tree Hill” set.
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Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton open up about being pressured into Maxim shoot
Dissatisfied with the portrayal of her character’s sexuality on the show, Bush said she pushed back on her inclusion in the photoshoot.
“Because Brooke had been so sexualized on the show and the whole idea of this ‘Hometown Hottie’ was (Ackles’) storyline, I was like, ‘Look, if the girls want to do it, that’s great. I don’t,’ ” Bush explained. “And 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.' ”
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Burton said she was given a similar ultimatum during a meeting in the show’s production office, with emphasis placed on the show’s future success.
“All the other shows have been on the cover of every single magazine, and no one wants you guys,” Burton recalled being told. “If you don’t start to generate some buzz and attract these male (viewers), then we’re dead and all your friends are going to lose their jobs.”
Bush said the experience reflected the lack of agency she had at the time and was part of the toxic workplace environment she tried to distance herself from.
“At that time, I said, ‘No, I don’t want to do this,’ and I was told I had to,” said Bush, adding that she would leave set “every chance I got.” “I did not want to be on our set; it was not a safe place for me. This was such a threat to safety.”
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Bethany Joy Lenz was told she was ‘too fat’ to be featured in Maxim photoshoot
Lenz revealed to Bush and Burton that she wasn’t invited to participate in the Maxim photoshoot. The “So Cold the River” star said her physical appearance at the time, specifically her weight, was the determining factor.
“They told me that they didn’t come to me because I was too fat,” Lenz said. “I wasn’t a hot girl on the show anymore.”
Bush then shared that she and Burton were told that Lenz had refused to do the photoshoot, making Bush’s participation mandatory.
“When I said I don’t want to do it, I was like, ‘But Joy’s not doing it. She said no. Why does she get to say no?’ They go, ‘Well, she said no, so you have to say yes,’ ” Bush told Lenz. “They scapegoated you to tell the three of us we couldn’t say no.”
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What Sophia Bush has previously said about working on ‘One Tree Hill’
Monday’s episode of “Drama Queens” isn’t the first time Bush has opened up about her time working on “One Tree Hill.”
During an appearance on Ashley Graham's "Pretty Big Deal" podcast in 2020, Bush alleged that her boss was inappropriate. She didn’t name the boss she was referencing during the chat, but she has previously alleged that showrunner Mark Schwahn sexually harassed cast members.
"I remember my boss kept writing scenes for me to be in my underwear, and I was like, 'I'm not doing this. This is inappropriate.' Like, 'I don't think this is what we should be teaching 16-year-old girls to be doing and to be seeking validation this way,' " Bush told Graham.
Bush, Burton and other female cast members wrote a letter in 2017 accusing Schwahn of "traumatizing" sexual harassment during the show's 9-year run. After an investigation, Schwahn was fired from the E! drama "The Royals."
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Contributing: Sara M Moniuszko, USA TODAY
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'One Tree Hill' stars talk being pressured to do sexy Maxim cover