‘One Tree Hill’ Star Craig Sheffer Says Mark Schwahn Threatened to Fire Him, Then Wrote Him Off: ‘It Was About Control’
“One Tree Hill” fans were completely shocked 16 years ago when the beloved Uncle Keith, played by Craig Sheffer, was shot and killed by his brother, Dan (Paul Johansson), on the WB show. Sheffer, however, was the one completely blindsided, he revealed during a new interview on the “Drama Queens” podcast.
“It was actually really, extremely disappointing because I had just made a movie and financed it myself for, like, a million dollars,” he shared with hosts Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz on the Monday, April 4, episode, noting that creator Mark Schwahn had a discussion with him after Season 2.
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“Because they had let me go for the last six shows the season before, I was like, ‘Are you going to cut me?’ He came to dinner to tell me. He’s like, ‘No, no, no. As long as the show runs, you’re gonna be on it. You’re the character I based on my brother,'” Sheffer said.
Ahead of Season 3, Sheffer’s co-stars were about to leave to start filming and he still hadn’t heard from Schwahn. He was golfing when he got the call.
“He goes, ‘I’ve got some really exciting news for you. It’s gonna be the best season ever.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, I was wondering when you were gonna [call]. I didn’t even get a call, so I didn’t know what was going on. I had my agent call yesterday and nobody returned his call,'” he explained. “He goes, ‘Yeah, so good news and bad news.’ Tells me all about this great thing, [and says,] ‘And then Paul shoots you.’ I go, ‘OK, so I’m dead? Does that mean I don’t get paid anymore?’ He was like, ‘Yeah.’ I was like, ‘Dude, you told me.’ Not only was it cheesy, but the way it was handled. You don’t call me and talk to me about it?”
Sheffer went on to say that his then 10-year-old daughter was with him on set a lot for the first three years and he asked for every other Friday off to fly home. “They were just such …” he said, drifting off to edit himself. Bush, Burton and Lenz then let him know he could say whatever he wanted.
“We do know that production schedules can get crazy but for simple things, it was so about control,” Sheffer said. “I showed up as this character. I had a teeny bit of facial hair, I wore my boots outside my pants like I always did. Gradually, Mark Schwahn … they threatened to fire me about my boots. I’m like, ‘Look, I just don’t want to leave my boots in my pants. I wear my bandana, I’ve been doing it for the first three-four weeks.’ [They said,] ‘We don’t want that anymore. We want your hair combed back, we want you shaved, we want this.’ It got to a point where they’re calling my agent like, ‘If this power struggle is going to continue, we’re just going to get rid of him.’ That kind of stuff, they break down your soul.”
Sheffer said that the “non-collaborative control” was “ridiculous” on set and asked the hosts, who also starred on the show, what their experiences were like — something they’d encountered many times.
Bush, first referring to Schwahn as their “Voldemort,” then told a story about cutting her bangs in between seasons.
“Mark lost his mind on me,” she recalled. “You know what he said to me? A grown man who was my boss. I was 22, 23. He goes, ‘Who the fuck told you you could cut bangs? You know who had bangs? All the fucking cheerleaders in high school who never wanted to have sex with me.’ I was like, ‘What’s happening?’ Craig, it was so controlling and gross and misogynistic and creepy for us. He’d yell at Hilarie and I if we put our hair in ponytails during cheer practice.”
“It’s the difference between discussion and order,” Bush added. “It’s control versus collaboration.”
In 2017, five years after “One Tree Hill” wrapped, 18 women who worked on the show came forward in a letter to Variety, accusing Schwahn of sexual harassment. He was, in turn, fired from his job on “The Royals.” Schwahn never responded to the allegations.
Video: 'One Tree Hill' cast reunited for 2018 holiday film
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