From details about "screaming fights" on set and bullying allegations to claims they were threatened into doing a Maxim shoot, the Drama Queens podcast has changed the conversation around the teen drama.
One Tree Hill just celebrated its 20th anniversary and even though the show premiered two decades ago, there’s still a lot of tea to be spilled! Over the past few years, fans have learned more behind the scenes drama than ever — all thanks to the Drama Queens podcast.
In 2021, former costars Hilarie Burton, Bethany Joy Lenz and Sophia Bush launched the podcast to spill all their OTH secrets. While they’ve recapped fun details like on set crushes and casting switch-ups, there have been some darker revelations along the way as well. Before the podcast even began, the show’s creator Mark Schwahn had been accused of sexual misconduct and although the OTH trio have never discussed Mark by name, they’ve alluded to some pretty awful moments on set. So far, Schwahn has never responded to any allegations of misconduct.
Here’s all the drama that’s been alleged on the Drama Queens podcast:
The tone of the show completely changed after the premiere of The O.C.
When Hilarie Burton was first cast on One Tree Hill, she says that the show was pitched as something very different than what it ended up becoming. Looking back, she says the vibe of the series was originally “a really sweet, small-town aw-shucks kind of show” — but things changed following the premiere of The O.C. Suddenly, she said, the plot of the show became a lot sexier, which wasn’t what Burton had signed up for.
“We had to turn up the sexy, it was, like, a bait and switch. I’m like, ‘Do we get a say? Do we get to have an opinion about it?’ Which we didn’t, we just had to turn up the sexy,” Burton said during the podcast.
In the first season of the show, things quickly progressed and by episode 7, Burton admits she felt “like a prostitute.” Ahead of filming a steamy makeout scene with Char Michael Murray’s character Lucas, Burton says she was “so nervous” and didn’t want to do it. Sophia and Bethany agreed that the episode marked a turning point in the show, leaning into more sexy territory.
“The way it was written was very graphic, which made me nervous because it was like you couldn’t question it, like this is what’s written out so we have to get the shot of you unbuttoning the shirt and we have to get the shot of you kissing down his chest,” Hilarie said.
She continued, “I felt like a prostitute. It was the first moment that I was, like, ‘I’m kissing someone for money. I’m getting paid to do this, like, performative [act]. There’s a morality thing where you’re like, ‘Am I a sex worker in a way? Is this OnlyFans in 2003?'”
Sophia got into a screaming fight with her bosses over a hot tub scene
During the show’s first season, Bush says she quickly learned she was going to have to stick up for herself. While filming episode 11, Bush admits she got into a screaming fight with her bosses over an uncomfortable hot tub scene. While filming, Bush’s character Brooke was supposed to strip in front of Lucas in an attempt to seduce him.
“That was the scene that led to my first ever screaming fight with my bosses,” she shared, before revealing her act of protest. “I did what I said I was going to do. I came to work for the next scene wearing a turtleneck. I was like ‘Watch me! This is completely inappropriate! I will wear turtlenecks forever!'”
Hilarie agreed, saying the showrunners could have accomplished just as much without the stars wearing so little.
“It’s like somebody read a perfectly good script and they were like, ‘You know what we need is more cowbell,'” she joked. “You could have gotten the same effect without turning it up to 11 every time!”
Bethany changed the porn storyline on the show
Lenz says she had to put her foot down when it came to one of the plotlines during season 1. When it came to the story about her character finding porn on Nathan’s computer, she originally was told by her onscreen pals that Nathan loved her and nothing else mattered. Bethany Joy didn’t approve of that and fought to change things.
“I remember going home after I got the script. I fought for the changes that they would allow ahead of time, and then when I got there on the day, whatever else I wanted to change I just did,” she shared.
She continued, “Looking back now as an adult, wouldn’t they value a young woman in her 20s’ opinion about who women are and how women feel about pornography? Why would they not welcome that? Why did I have to fight f–king tooth and nail? I went home crying. It was constant arguments with them about everything. ‘Joy, why do you have to be so difficult? Why can’t you just do what you’re being asked to do? It’s in the script, just show up and say your lines?'”
Sophia’s real-life tension with Chad actually helped their on screen chemistry
Bush admits that during the show’s first season, she didn’t exactly get along with Murray. While that may have created some awkward moments, Sophia says that “friction” actually made for more onscreen chemistry.
“Everyone knows Chad and I in season 1 were two butting heads. We didn’t necessarily agree on anything. We grew to get along but in season 1, because our characters were so being thrust together and I was aware of the [audience’s] want for it to be real,” Sophia said on the podcast. “People want to think it’s real, so I was overcompensating for that and so I’d be real sh–ty with Chad all the time.”
This would have been before the two married … and subsequently divorced.
Bethany Joy, Hilarie and Sophia were bullied by the show’s executives about their bodies
While talking about a season 3 episode, the costars claimed that their bosses often bullied them about their bodies — and it ended up in the show’s storylines. At one point, Danneel Ackles’ character Rachel tells Mouth that he should pick on women to get their attention. Some of Rachel’s dialogue was allegedly “overtly exact phrases” that had been said by executives.
“They figured out how to bully everybody. Like Hilarie, they bullied you for being skinny and they always bullied me for not being as skinny as you. There was always a thing, and it just felt horrible. And I think the three of us just went ‘ugh’ when we heard those words coming out of Rachel’s mouth because it just felt familiar and bad,” Sophia shared.
In the end, Mouth rejected Rachel’s advice — which the cast believes was “genius-level trolling” from a female writer.
Sophia and Hilarie were forced into doing a Maxim shoot
In 2006, Sophia and Hilarie, along with their costar Danneel, were featured on the cover of Maxim — but they revealed on the podcast that they really didn’t want to do it. At the time, they said, the show’s executives were trying to bring in more of a male audience and thought a sexy cover magazine would help.
Sophia immediately declined, particularly because she felt her character had already been very “sexualized” in several storylines already. That didn’t sit well with the OTH executives, she claimed, who allegedly threatened her if they didn’t participate.
According to Sophia, the response she got was, “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.”
Meanwhile, Hilarie says she was told that the studio wanted to cancel the show and all the other magazines had turned them down. She says executives told her she needed to “generate some buzz” in order to save everyone’s jobs.
On top of that Bethany Joy wasn’t even invited to the shoot, explaining that she was told she was “too fat” for the cover. At the same time, the other three women were lied to and told that Bethany Joy refused the shoot — and used that to make them feel like they had to say yes to the photoshoot.
An executive wrote himself into the show to force Bethany Joy to interact with him
In the midst of shooting season 5, Hilarie wasn’t on speaking terms with one of her OTH bosses. Although she didn’t call him by name on the podcast, simply referring to the man as “Voldemort,” she did call out one particularly “creepy” thing he did on set. Hilarie explained that since she “wasn’t speaking to him in real life,” he ended up writing “himself into the episode” in a scene where she hugged him.
“It was so creepy,” Hilarie said, adding that even though her brother was on set and the father of her then-boyfriend was directing the episode, she still felt “it wasn’t quite enough.” Hilarie ended up asking her own dad to come to set while they were filming and he “sat behind the monitor all day – and “clearly wasn’t there to be friendly.”
She added that she would “beeline” over to the monitor where he was sitting between takes, feeling safer by her dad’s side. “Because you can’t touch me, you can’t pull me into a sidebar conversation, you can’t do any of that if I’m just shooting the s–t and making jokes with my dad.”
Moira Kelly encouraged Sophia to walk away from the show
Before Sophia left the series during season 6, she says her costar Moira Kelly was the only person who gave her “permission to just go.” Although Sophia had wanted to leave the show, no one had supported her decision until she talked to Moira. During their discussion, Moira told Sophia to “run,” giving her the advice that “there’s so many chapters in life and this is just one.”
“I so valued your opinion of me and of our business and the way you prioritized your family over work, and that’s what I wanted — what you had is what I wanted,” Sophia told Moira on the podcast, adding, “It’s like, ‘Oh, my God. You don’t know that you saved my life.’ I don’t know what would have happened to me if I stayed. I met my husband. My son exists because Moira Kelly told me to run and so I did. I just think about how different my life would be if she wasn’t that one person to give me permission to just go.”
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