Bush was dating Nichols in real life when he first joined the show in season 6
One Tree Hill’s Brooke Davis finally got her happy ever after with former bad boy Julian Baker, but the romance was never actually meant to be.
On Monday’s episode of the Drama Queens podcast, Sophia Bush revealed the true backstory behind Austin Nichols, who played her on-screen husband, Julian, and what she was originally told Brooke’s fate would be.
Bush, 41, who dated Nichols on and off from 2006 to 2012, said that the show’s “boss” Mark Schwahn made a “promise” to her that she and Nichols’ characters would “barely ever have scenes together” and their relationship would “certainly never be romantic.”
“Oh my God,” Hilarie Burton Morgan replied at her friend’s revelation.
Julian came on the scene as a former love interest of Peyton (Burton Morgan), causing turmoil in her relationship with Lucas (Chad Michael Murray). Bush said that he was slated to be “the bad boy movie producer super cool guy,” and “maybe break up” Peyton and Lucas, but his multi-season arc was never shared with the cast.
“There was a lot of apology from the boss that was like, ‘I had no idea this overlapped with your real life. How weird!’ And I was like, ‘Dude I’ve dated, like, three people in 10 years. What do you mean you had no idea? You’re my nightmare,’” Bush recalled of a conversation with Schwahn, whom both she and Burton- Morgan have publicly accused of sexual assault during their time on the hit CW show.
Schwahn has never spoken about any of the allegations. In November 2017, the actresses — along with 16 other cast and crew members from One Tree Hill — penned an open letter alleging that they were "manipulated psychologically and emotionally" by Schwahn. He was later removed from his role as showrunner of E!'s The Royals after a group of 25 female cast and crew members from that show penned a similar letter about his "abuse" of power.
In Bush's opinion, Schwahn “essentially emotionally castrated Julian and made him into a nerd who didn’t know how to give a high-five and who had a 6-year-old be his best man ‘cause he had no friends,” Bush said, referring to Nathan (James Lafferty) and Haley’s (Bethany Joy Lenz) son Jamie (Jackson Brundage).
“Just wild,” Burton Morgan said of the sequence of events that led to Brooke marrying the former Hollywood producer in season 7 of the show. (They later welcomed twins together in the series finale.)
“Wild," Bush said of the storyline. "And we all were like, ‘What is happening?’”
Now, though, both actresses reflect fondly on Nichols and remain good friends with him.
“I really have enjoyed knowing Austin all these years at this point because he’s a wonderful actor, he’s really f---ing fun, he’s great at like extracurricular stuff,” Burton Morgan praised.
“He’s perfect,” Bush added. “We’ve all realized that in the way that we thought so many of our sweet male costars on this show were like the little brothers we were gonna have to rear — like, he is. And we love him. We’re family, we love each other, that’s all."
The long-running drama series celebrated the 20th anniversary of its premiere in September, and several cast members took to social media to mark the occasion. Murray, 42, wrote in an Instagram Story, "If you'd have asked me back in 2003... Never in my wildest dreams would I've thought we'd still have this magical bond."
Bush opted to take the moment to celebrate her decades-long friendships with Burton Morgan and Lenz, 42, amidst the then-ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike. "Not gonna mention the job that's turning 20 today while our union is on strike," she wrote on Instagram." So instead I'll celebrate 20 years of female friendships being the ultimate love stories and the reclamation of our good, bad, ugly and beautiful through @dramaqueensoth."
Lenz shared a carousel of images from the show, writing in an Instagram post, "This will always be my family. Thank you to everyone who made it possible 🙏"
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One Tree Hill can be streamed in full on Hulu.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual abuse, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
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