Hilarie Burton and her “One Tree Hill” co-stars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz host the “Drama Queens” podcast in which the trio rewatch episodes of their hit series and chat about what was really going on in front of and behind the camera — and the stories aren’t always fun. In the latest episode, “For Better and For Worse,” Burton revealed that her boss at the show was so desperate to interact with her when they weren’t on speaking terms that he wrote himself into a scene.
She said, “I wasn’t speaking to him in real life, and so he wrote himself into the episode of me hugging him.”
Bush immediately replied, “That is so psychotic. Can you guys imagine Shonda Rhimes or Aaron Sorkin casting themselves on their own show?”
Burton didn’t name the boss in question and instead referred to him as Voldemort, the villain from the “Harry Potter” franchise. The show was created by Mark Schwahn, who served as showrunner throughout its run and appeared on the show as “Max.”
The actress did share that she was so uncomfortable with the script for the episode “Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace” that she asked her dad to come to set with her that day.
She explained, “It was so creepy. I got the script and I was like, ‘All right, it’s one day of work. It’s just one day of work.’ And you know my boyfriend’s dad [Gregory Prange] was directing, and my brother’s on set. There’s all these dudes on set and it just wasn’t quite enough, so I invited my dad to work this day, and my dad came and sat behind the monitor the whole day.”
Her father’s presence helped her feel calm and unapproachable. Burton continued, “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 making jokes with my dad.”
Her dad also took the extra step of bringing a bullwhip to set with him — just in case the boss tried to overstep. Burton added that when the team took lunch, “Voldemort goes off to the production office, where his office has like a view of the parking lot.”
She concluded, “And my dad and [sound mixer Michael Rayle, a former animal trainer and fellow whip enthusiast] proceed to go out to parking and pull out bullwhips and start doing all these tricks and cracking them real loud. It was just like a message, like: Don’t.”
The trio issued a statement as well and explained, “Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally. More than one of us is still in treatment for post-traumatic stress. Many of us were put in uncomfortable positions and had to swiftly learn to fight back, sometimes physically, because it was made clear to us that the supervisors in the room were not the protectors they were supposed to be.”
The statement continued, “Many of us were spoken to in ways that ran the spectrum from deeply upsetting, to traumatizing, to downright illegal. And a few of us were put in positions where we felt physically unsafe. More than one woman on our show had her career trajectory threatened.”
Earlier this year, Burton revealed on the podcast that the same boss sexually assaulted her at least twice while filming the series, and her costar Chad Michael Murray had to step in to stop it. Burton was on a flight with the boss when he assaulted her for the first time, she said.
Burton detailed, “The flight back from that is when he assaulted me. He assaulted me again in the car on the drive from Raleigh to Wilmington … I didn’t know how to process it anymore and you can see it in the episode. You can see that I’m not there… I look like s–t, I’m not connecting in any way.”
Murray stepped in while the cast and crew were out together. Burton continued, “Chad walked up and goes, ‘What are you doing?’ He said that to our boss in the bar. He watched our boss grab me in front of a lot of people, and you know, Chad didn’t have anything to lose, because he knew our boss hated him anyway.”
Schwahn is credited as an actor in two of the show’s episodes. The first, from season four, was titled “Songs to Love and Die By.” The second episode is the season five episode Burton spoke of on the podcast.
Schwahn has not worked on another series since the allegations were raised, nor has he responded to the allegations against him.