One Tree Hill cast claim they were ‘threatened’ into doing Maxim cover shoot

One Tree Hill stars Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz have claimed the show’s producers forced them to do a Maxim cover shoot against their wills.

In a new episode of their podcast Drama Queens, the actors opened up about what went on behind the scenes of the show’s fourth season, which aired in October 2006.

Burton and Bush claimed that show creator Mark Schwan – who was accused of sexual harassment by the cast and crew on the show in 2017 – threatened their careers if they refused to take part.

At the same time, Lenz alleged that she was told she was “too fat” to be on the magazine cover.

Bush, who played Brooke Davis, said she did not want to do the shoot because of how her character “had been so sexualised” in the show.

“I was like, ‘Look, if the girls want to do it, that’s great. I don’t. I have gone into battle trying to make Brooke less of this thing that you guys tried to force me into. I don’t want to do it,’” she said.

“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’.”

Burton, who played Peyton Sawyer, alleged that Schwan told her “no [magazine] wants you guys”.

“It was very much a, ‘No one wants you, the studio wants to cancel your show. 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’,” she said.

Bush added: “At that time, I said, ‘No I don’t want to do this’ and was told I had to. It was such a profound threat and a threat to be able to- 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.

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“I would come into work, do my [scenes] and 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.”

At one point, Joy Lenz said she was “replaced” on the Maxim cover by their other co-star, Danneel Ackles.

She claimed: “They told me that they didn’t come to me because I was too fat. I wasn’t a hot girl on the show anymore.”

Burton and Bush appeared shocked to hear Joy Lenz’s statement and said they were told she was asked and had said no to being on the magazine.

“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’,” Bush alleged.

“They scapegoated you to tell the three of us we couldn’t say no. We weren’t mad at you but we were p***ed about it.”

The former stars of the early-Noughties TV series have been discussing the show on their podcast since June 2021.

In August, they unpicked the “heinous” sexual assault of Peyton, which was depicted in episode eight of season one.

Speaking about what would have happened if the show was made today, Burton said the characters “would definitely be reporting this”.

“There is something that is deeply traumatic about the realisation as a young woman that you move through the world and, by more people than you thought, are looked [at] as prey rather than as a person and we really just gloss over that,” Joy Lenz added.

In 2017, cast members and crew of One Tree Hill came forward to accuse Schwan of sexual harassment. In an open letter, they voiced their support for former colleague Audrey Wauchope, who was the first to accuse the creator of harassment.

The letter, signed by Bush, Burton, Joy Lenz, and others, detailed how “many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally”.

Schwan has never responded to the allegations. The Independent was unable to contact him for comment.