Sophia Bush, Hilarie Burton claim One Tree Hill creator coerced them into 'miserable' Maxim photoshoot
One Tree Hill stars Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush, and Bethany Joy Lenz are pulling back the curtain on season four of the CW show — and how its storyline involving Maxim clashed with their real-life experience photographing for the magazine.
While recapping the fourth episode of the season on their Drama Queens podcast on Monday, in which Brooke (Bush) photographs Rachel (Daneel Ackles) for Maxim, Burton and Bush claimed that show creator Mark Schwahn threatened punitive action against them if they didn't pose for the magazine's November 2006 issue. (In 2017, Schwahn was accused of sexual harassment and physical and emotional manipulation in an open letter written by 18 of the show's female cast and crew members.)
"Because Brooke had been so sexualized on the show, and the whole idea of this 'Hometown Hottie' was 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 costars, 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.'"
EW has reached out to The CW's representatives for comment, but did not immediately hear back.
Mindy Small/Getty Images Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz, and Sophia Bush
Burton said she was initially pitched the idea by Schwahn, who said: "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 gonna turn your nose up at that?"
She was told that the cover, which was part of a larger push to grow the show's male audience, would be the start of the "rebranding of Maxim" under new leadership and a "classy" experience. "It was very much a, 'No one else wants you, the studio wants to cancel your show,'" Burton continued. "If you don't start to generate some buzz, and attract these male numbers, we're dead and all your friends are going to lose their jobs.'"
Bush felt she had no other alternatives but to appear on the cover at the time. "I said, 'No I don't want to do this,' and I was told I had to," she said. "It was such a profound threat and a threat to being able — honestly, even to have 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 then 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 recalled having "conflicting feelings" during the photoshoot, which featured the trio dressed as 1950s pin-up girls. "Like, looking at you Hil, looking at Danneel, and thinking, 'God, everybody looks so beautiful,'" she said. "We look uncomfortable, but in the room, I remember being like, 'I'm looking at my friends, who look stunning, who do look like these '50s pin-up girls, and this should be so fun but it's miserable cause we didn't choose it.'"
The experience was made even worse, they said, when Schwahn appeared on set and gave Burton an iPod filled with songs in front of the other women. "He wanted Sophia to see it, to put her in her place," Burton claimed. "And he wanted Danneel to see it, because he was trying to make her jealous."
Schwahn's actions completely ruined the experience for Burton. "We had actually had a nice day," she said. "And he came in and just made this very visual move to be divisive and I was so embarrassed."
Lenz, who did not participate in the photoshoot, said she wasn't offered the opportunity due to her weight. "They told me that they didn't come to me because I was too fat," she shared. "I just wasn't a hot girl on the show anymore."
Her claim was news to Burton and Bush, who said that they were told that Lenz had been asked to star on the cover but turned the opportunity down. "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. She said no first,'" claimed Bush. "They scapegoated you to tell the three of us we couldn't say no. They threw you under the [bleep] bus."
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