Bethany Joy Lenz Reveals She and ‘One Tree Hill’ Costar Paul Johansson Once Kissed Off Screen

OTH s Bethany Joy Lenz Admits She and Paul Johansson Once Kissed Off Screen
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It might be hard for One Tree Hill fans to picture Haley James Scott and Dan Scott together, but according to Bethany Joy Lenz, she and Paul Johansson have kissed off screen.

The topic came up on the Monday, February 26, episode of the “Drama Queens” podcast as Lenz, Hilarie Burton Morgan and Sophia Bush discussed how Haley (Lenz) and Dan (Johansson) were forced to lock lips during season 6 episode 11, titled "We Three (My Echo, My Shadow and Me)". The script, which was penned by OTH star Chad Michael Murray, saw the gang travel back to the 1940s as entirely different characters. (During the majority of the teen drama’s run, Haley is married to Dan’s son Nathan, played by James Lafferty.)

“It’s like, ‘Oh it’s my friend.’ I don’t know, it felt strange because we were definitely super close by then,” Lenz, 42, shared of their characters kissing. “He was probably my best friend on the show at the time. I have kissed Paul in real life, and he’s a good kisser.”

Although Lenz immediately brushed past the pair’s real-life lip lock, Burton Morgan, 41, and Bush, 41, gasped in surprise and begged for details. Lenz, however, played coy about what really went down. “You know, we’re friends, you’re not friends, you never know what’s going to happen,” she said.

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In the episode, Lenz portrays a jazz singer who’s gearing up for her first performance at Karen’s Cafe. Johansson is a rival club owner who shows up to drag Lenz back to his own establishment after she frees herself of his abuse. During their confrontation, Johansson forces the two to kiss, and Lenz slaps him in order to break free.

While revisiting the scene, Lenz remembered it being a “weird” thing to shoot as the duo were so close in real life. “He was like, ‘Just hit me.’ And I’m like, ‘Paul, I don’t want to hit you,’” she recalled. “So I smacked him. What you saw on camera was the real deal, for sure.”

While Burton Morgan, 41, and Bush, 41, clarified that they don’t condone forceful kissing, they both admitted to enjoying the steaming moment. “I liked it,” Burton Morgan said. “I liked how you just talked right over him. There was just a chemistry there.”

Lenz admitted the pair “worked on the scene” for “quite a bit” before shooting it, sharing that it was her “dream come true” to channel 1940s cinema. “I was having a ball,” she said. “To do a little continental accent and wear the cute clothes? Who knows if I’ll ever get to do this again in my life. I might as well just yuck it up.”

OTH s Bethany Joy Lenz Admits She and Paul Johansson Once Kissed Off Screen
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Lenz and Johansson starred on One Tree Hill for the entirety of its nine seasons, which ran from 2003 to 2012. While Lenz has often spoken about the pair’s friendship over the years, she previously revealed that joining a cult in the early ‘00s ultimately kept her from being that close to most of her castmates at the time.

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“I was in a cult for 10 years,” she shared during a “Drama Queens” episode in July 2023. “That would be a really valuable experience to write about, and the recovery — 10 years of recovery after that. So there’s a lot to tell.”

While Lenz didn’t expand on her experience at the time due to “people and legal things in place that make it more complicated,” she told Variety the following month that her OTH costars did try and help her escape while filming. Ultimately, she wasn’t able to remove herself until after “shortly after” the series ended in 2012.

“For a while, they were all trying to save me and rescue me, which is lovely and so amazing to be care about in that way. But I was very stubborn,” Lenz explained in an August 2023 interview. “I was really committed to what I believed were the best choices I could make. … The nature of a group like that is isolation; they have to make you distrust everyone around you so that the only people you trust are, first and foremost, the leadership and then, people within the group if the leadership approves of them, and isn’t in the middle of pitting you against each other, which happens all the time also.”

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Now, Lenz, Burton Morgan and Bush are reclaiming their time on OTH with their “Drama Queens” rewatch podcast, which launched in June 2021. The concept was formed after the women came together to discuss creator Mark Schwahn’s alleged toxic on set behavior that often pitted them against each other while filming the show.

“Those girls are my family and we spend so much time together, whether it’s on FaceTime or whether we’re recording episodes of ‘Drama Queens,'” Bush told Insider in March 2022. “We’ve forged such a friendship and been able to, as a unit, reclaim so much of what was good and joyful about our first job together while taking out the respective trash.”