Sophia Bush Improvised An Iconic Brooke Davis Moment On "One Tree Hill," Plus 26 More Behind-The-Scenes Stories From Sophia Bush

    "There are so many Brooke Davis moments where I'm proud of the way that she grew and where I was proud of her for standing up for other people."

    1. First, you started working on Good Sam before the pandemic, so it has been quite a few years in the making. How did you first get involved?

    Back in 2019, I had a dinner with Katie Wech. I was looking at properties to produce, and her wonderful agent, David Boxerbaum, who represents all of these amazing writers, was sending me some scripts. He told me she was working on a script that wasn't ready yet, but he knew we'd hit it off. So Katie and I went out to dinner, and she told me about three shows she was working on, all of which sounded amazing. I remember saying to her, "Well, I want to read them all when they're done, but that medical show, that's really sticking to me for some reason." 

    The story just sounded so interesting. The dynamic of the father and daughter and this generational shift between a family dynasty that mirrors the battle we're in as a society with, how do we allow more women to take seats at the table? You know, how do we create new verticals of leadership? How do we end harmful patriarchy, and what does it look like moving forward? I couldn't stop thinking about it. So when the script was ready in 2020, I read it and I just knew I wanted to work on it.

    2. On your podcast Work in Progress, you talked about how even though you expressed interest in Good Sam, the finished script didn't come to you right away. What happened there?

    I'm one of those people who feels really allergic to bugging people. I just hate to be in the way. And what I've learned in the last couple of years is that that means everyone always assumes I'm so busy. I didn't follow up because I thought, I expressed that I loved this, so they'll send it to me. Then they were like, "Well, you didn't follow up. We figured you were doing something else." It was this hilarious comedy of errors. So I read the script and they said, "Can you come in tomorrow?" And normally, that would send me into a full-blown panic attack. I remember reading it and just thinking, This is so personal to me in some strange way. So I told them I could come in the next day. Fourteen hours later? Done. No problem. On it.

    3. Medical shows have such a long and beloved history on TV, with shows like ER and Grey's Anatomy, so what is it like also getting to join the list of notable medical dramas?

    I mean, it's the most fun thing for me. It's one of my favorite genres of television personally. I've been able to work in genres that I love, and to combine a family drama, which I came up in and what roots some of my very favorite shows, with a medical show is so great. I come into work every day and just think, Is this real? It's very "pinch me."

    4. Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz are going to appear in an upcoming episode of Good Sam, and it's the first time you've all acted onscreen together since One Tree Hill. How did that come about?

    We've been together so much that we were kind of like, Wait, we haven't all acted together onscreen in 14 years! It has been 11 years for Joy and I, and 14 years for me and Hilarie. It just so happened that Episode 8 of Good Sam was the script we were getting the day we got back to filming in 2022. I was doing press for Good Sam, and because of Drama Queens, everyone was asking if Hilarie, Joy, and I would ever act together again and if I'd have them on Good Sam. So Katie, my sweet angel of a boss, listened to all of the press I did for Good Sam before the premiere, heard me talking about wanting Hilarie and Joy to come play, and sent me the script for Season 1, Episode 8 and was like, "There's sisters in 1x08. Want them to come play them?" I was so stunned because they had to come film, like, the following week. 

    In our dissection of One Tree Hill with the podcast, Joy has talked about how, because she played Haley, everyone really thinks of her as this good girl. She's always wanted the opportunity to play somebody messy. So when I read the script for their episode, one of the sisters is a mess. I just knew Joy had to play her, and Hilarie the other one. It was just so much fun to have them here and to do it. Everyone on set was like, "Oh my god, y'all are like a tornado. What's going on here?" We just have a lot of energy, and we've built this over 20 years. It was so exciting.

    5. Do you have a favorite memory from filming Good Sam with Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz?

    Without giving too much away, one of my favorite memories is when they wrapped. I made the whole crew stop to just say, "I know some of you in this room understand who these women are to me." But as soon as I opened my mouth, I started weeping. I didn't expect to cry so quickly. I was sobbing. My whole crew was like, "Oh my god, are you okay?" Then Hilarie and Joy were sobbing and everyone was crying. It was very cute.

    6. With the Drama Queens podcast, you, Hilarie, and Joy have talked about how this is allowing you to "reclaim" One Tree Hill and really dive deeper into everything that happened behind the scenes. How has this experience been for the three of you?

    Oh, it's heaven. I don't know many people who've had the opportunity to take a wound and go back and clean it out, and then stitch it together beautifully. That's what this feels like. So many of us as women have had this uniting experience and this rallying cry of the #MeToo movement. We've lit torches and we're ready to go to war for each other. Not a lot of people have been able to go back and heal their experiences. When the experience that hurt you was also an experience that had other angles that you love, it can be confusing and it's really tough on the mind, your emotional recall, and your experience of trauma. 

    Drama Queens has been so special, and what's great about it is how much fun it is. I actually love that we can model that healing isn't sad, and that sanding away the sharpness of your trauma is also joyful. We all hear trauma and think it's big, ugly, scary, and too intense, when, actually, you can light all this shit on fire and have a bonfire. It's kind of great.

    7. When did the conversation to start Drama Queens and revisit One Tree Hill in this way first begin?

    We always knew there was something to do because we've been asked for 10 years about a reboot. It's kind of felt like someone sticking a finger in the wound or like sticking a thorn in your side. It stings when people ask. There was just something about two years ago when we first started to [talk] about what would a reboot mean? What would that look like? Are people ever gonna stop asking? If they're not going to stop asking, should we start thinking about what that kind of project could be? It kind of felt like touching a hot stove. I think my experience with doing Work in Progress made me think about what if, instead of touching the thing we don't want to touch, at least not yet, what if we did our own thing? What if we used the fuel to make our own box that we could put this in? And it's been fucking gorgeous.

    8. Who is your dream Work in Progress guest right now?

    I really would love Michelle Obama. I was honored to do so much work in the Obama administration and work on both elections. Working on Let Girls Learn with Michelle was a highlight for me of my activism. We did a panel together years ago at South by Southwest. Talk about an amazing day. It was myself, Michelle Obama, Missy Elliott, and Diane Warren, and Queen Latifah moderated the panel. I was like, "This is the best day of my life." We talked about artists and activism and ways to use your platform. It was so beautiful, and that conversation has stuck me. 

    I'd love to go back and revisit some of what we talked about then and also hear about her experiences since and what's informing her now. She's just the coolest person. There's a picture of us from South by Southwest, like, double high-fiving. I was like, "That should be my Christmas card." Sorry, future husband, but this one is for me and Michelle.

    9. What's a role people would be surprised to find out you auditioned for, but you didn't get?

    I auditioned for Amy Adams' part in Catch Me if You Can. The movie was so good. and I remember being so stressed before the audition. It was either finals or midterms week when I was at USC. I remember getting there, and the audition was big. I just felt unprepared. I remember just the panic of being like, I don't even know if I should be here. Then I remember watching the movie, and I was like, "Oh my god, Amy is brilliant." So, yes, 100% I totally auditioned for her part. And now she's gone on to be nominated for like hundreds of Oscars, so obviously this made sense.

    10. Sam and Griff's relationship on Good Sam is very important. What is it like playing this father-daughter dynamic alongside Jason Isaacs? How early in the process was he cast as Griff?

    Jason came on, I guess it would've been a couple of weeks after me. We were so thrilled to get him; he's so amazing. I am such a massive fan of The OA. I was like, "Oh my god, Hap is coming. Hap is playing my dad." I texted that to so many people. And so many people, of course, didn't care about him in The OA, and they'd respond with, "Your dad is Lucius Malfoy?!" 

    I remember when Jason and I first met, I told him, "Professional Sophia Bush is going to leave the room for about five minutes, and I just have to talk to you as a fan. Then the real Sophia will come back." He was just dying laughing. I think we were pretty quickly bonded after that. Working with Jason is such a delight. I've done so many long-running series, and Jason has worked on so many individual projects. He has hundreds of film credits to his name. So we bring these two very different perspectives to work, and we're able to add them together. The sum total is very magical. We're having a ball.

    11. The other amazing relationship on Good Sam is between Sam and Lex. When did you and Skye P. Marshall first meet?

    We met a couple of weeks before Good Sam was on any of our radars. There was a Black AIDS Institute event, and Karamo Brown asked me to come and introduce him. He was winning an award that night, and I was so flattered to be included and to speak in a space like that. I remember being at that event, and this stunning woman ran up to me and was like, "Oh my god, you don't know me, but I know you. I'm from Chicago. I've never seen a person on TV represent my city in a way that feels authentic like you did playing Erin Lindsay on Chicago P.D." So Skye and I had this really sweet moment. 

    Then, a couple of weeks later, I said to Katie and Jennie [Snyder Urman], who is a Good Sam producer, that I wanted to come in and test everyone during the auditions. I wanted the actors to read with me, and I wanted them to know if we had chemistry. I wanted to see who I clicked with so they could see it too. They were kind of like, "You're going to come to all the auditions?" And I just thought, That's what a good producer does. Anyway, they told me they had a favorite actor for Lex, who had a different name at the time, and it ended up being Skye. So we already had this familiarity with each other in the audition room. 

    12. And now, what is it like having your real-life friendship with Skye translate to the scenes you do on Good Sam as Sam and Lex?

    It's been such a joy for us. She is an undeniable human and a force and a really good friend. One of the silver linings of the pandemic delay of about a year was, we actually got to spend a lot of time together outside of a work setting. We'd have long hangs in my backyard, you know, with my fiancé [Grant Hughes] doing wine tastings for us. It was hiking in LA with our dogs, and it was time going to marches and protests and standing up for what we both believe in. It was incredibly special for us to vibe together, and it runs deep. I think that's why you really root for Sam and Lex as their own love story, even though they're having this conflict over Lex's relationship with Griff.

    13. Looking back, which Brooke Davis scenes from One Tree Hill are you most proud of?

    The scene in Season 4, the photo project where she finally admits that she's not enough. That scene was so personal to me. That was something that I had opened up to our writers about in my own life. I remember when I read that script, I felt so ashamed. I felt so exposed reading it on the page. I remember feeling so embarrassed and being like, Oh my god, I was having a conversation about motivation for characters, and they're using it. I don't know if this is okay. It was my first lesson that if you can be courageous enough to open the thing that you're most afraid of, people won't back away from you; they'll lean toward you and say, "Wow, you, too?" To create that for our audience and to begin to learn that for myself as a young woman was really a profound experience. That was a big one.

    And then, there were a lot of conversations in the series finale that meant a lot to me because I felt like getting to the end of the show and being the character who had done the most episodes and being the person who'd been on a huge journey of evolution was incredible. Brooke Davis really was forged in fire. I was proud of being able to speak things through her that I knew the audience was going to feel when they watched the show. 

    The whole monologue in the hallway with Julian against the lockers wasn't scripted. I just did it. That day, I was really emotional; I could not stop crying. I just started talking about what the show meant to me and what I knew it meant to the fans, and that's what made the episode. There are so many Brooke Davis moments where I'm proud of the way that she grew and where I was proud of her for standing up for other people.

    14. Do you have a favorite behind-the-scenes memory from filming the One Tree Hill series finale?

    I have to tell you this one because you're a fan and you'll never be able to watch the scene the same way, so I apologize. Do you remember the slo-mo shots at Jamie's basketball game in the finale? So — I'm almost hesitant to tell you because I know it's gonna get memed and I'm going to be embarrassed — I could not, and I mean I could not, stop crying during the entire finale. I was sobbing. So we're filming the scene where we're all clapping for Jamie Scott. The cameras are pushing in and I'm supposed to be beaming at my godson. Anyway, I was trying so hard not to cry, and there's a shot where one of my eyes is getting smaller than the other because I was straining so hard not to burst into tears that my face started twitching. I remember watching the moment back and being like, Well, that's a look.

    BuzzFeed: Now I'm never going to be able to unsee it.

    I know, I'm sorry. I hope I didn't ruin the moment for you, but you had to know.

    15. If you could have any of your former characters hang out with Sam from Good Sam, who would it be?

    Oooh, that's interesting. I'm going to cheat and do three characters. Right off the bat, I think Sam and Brooke Davis would be fun. I think they would get into a rhythm. Then my next thought was, I think Sam would like to have a patient like Erin Lindsay because she would really try to put her in treatment for PTSD. And I think Alexandria, this character I played on Easy, who Joe Swanberg and I based on a real documentary filmmaker who I am so obsessed with. She made Frame by Frame and Not on Her Shoulders, and her name is Alexandria. So I would love to see my character Alexandria from Easy make a documentary about Sam's hospital and this hospital run by a woman. I think that would be very cool.

    16. Who is your dream guest star on Good Sam?

    One of my goals is if we get to be one of those medical shows that becomes, you know, a family for our viewers over the years, should [we] be so lucky, we can have so many great people come on and play patients, visiting doctors, or whatever. I would love to bring all my friends from One Tree Hill and other projects. Having medical cases gives you the opportunity to cycle your loved ones into a show. It would be so cool.

    17. Who is someone you admired growing up that really shaped who you are today?

    Oprah. When I look back, I realize Oprah is really the reason I studied journalism. She's the reason that I know how to interview people. She's such an icon. I'd love to have her on Work in Progress too.

    18. Who have you been the most starstruck by?

    I'm starstruck all the time.

    BuzzFeed: No way, really?

    It's terrible. My best friend, Jenny [Smart], is always like, "You need to stop it. You are a famous person. You cannot behave this way around other famous people." But I'm sorry, I am not the same as, like, Tom Hanks. I've never gotten un-amazed — that's not a word; I'm stressed just thinking about this question. 

    BuzzFeed: So the story you've told about fangirling over Tatiana Maslany is totally accurate and happens with other people too.

    The photo we took, I actually sent to Jenny and she goes, "Your smile in this picture is unacceptable." I looked like I was about to have a nervous breakdown. I was so excited, I don't even know what my face was doing. I remember we, like, DM'd on Twitter for a while, and I literally couldn't talk to her. I didn't know how to text with her normally. Plenty of people in my industry meet other people in the industry and become friends, but I don't know how to do that. I am such a fan. I can't be around other actors I love.

    19. For three of your biggest TV shows — One Tree Hill, Chicago P.D., and Good Sam — you've filmed outside of Los Angeles in Wilmington, Chicago, and now Toronto. How does filming on location help bond the casts you've been part of?

    [Laughs] Somehow, I literally never work in LA. This is really why so many show romances happen on every show ever. I remember we'd always laugh when we were doing One Tree Hill; we would be like, "Oh, all the Gossip Girl kids are dating each other, but they're in NYC; they could be dating anybody." It's hilarious. I look at that earnestness about young love with such a sweet, like, camp counselor energy. I think what's so lovely is to realize that as you grow into adults, that earnestness and that really deep bonding that tends to happen on these teen dramas still happens, except with Good Sam, most of us are married or here with our partners. We keep joking that it's the late-30s-to-50s version of cast romances, except now we're having dinner parties, cooking together, doing table reads on Sundays, and just spending a lot of time together. It's like the commune version of a showmance.

    20. And you've said in other interviews how the friendships with your Good Sam castmates feel extra special. How has it been working with all of them?

    I know I've said this before, but we do have something rare here. There's a rare air, and everyone knows it. Everyone has been on enough jobs to know that this is very different and special. The reality of the friendships. You're not all friends because you're together, you're friends because you genuinely care about each other. It's really unique. We've all done so much showing up for each other. We've spent so much of the pandemic together. Even Michael [Stahl-David], who plays Caleb, and his wife came and stayed with Grant and I for a week in LA over the pandemic. 

    We've really all been together so much. We all tried to plan a surprise birthday party for Katie Wech, and then she might've been exposed to COVID with one of her kids at school, but we still had the party and just FaceTimed her in, sang "Happy Birthday," and had cake. I mean, it was amazing. I love this group of people so much, and we have a deep, genuine desire to be together. I really cherish it.

    21. What are the last TV shows you binge-watched?

    I really don't have much time with doing Good Sam and producing the show. Sometimes I'll save a show that I'm really excited for when I really need it. So this weekend I watched a couple episodes of the Texas chunk of the new Queer Eye season. I just sobbed every episode because, why wouldn't I?

    22. What's the last movie you watched?

    Megan Park's movie The Fallout. Oh my god. I had such a deep, emotional reaction to it that I was like, Oh, everything in my body is shutting down. I knew if I began to let myself really cry, I would never stop. It was so beautiful. Also, it was such a special full-circle moment because Megan is part of our One Tree Hill family because of Tyler Hilton. I was so in awe of what she did and how she did it. I feel so honored to be her friend, and so thrilled that so many of us who grew up on these teen shows are figuring out ways to tell our stories. It's beautiful.

    23. Since One Tree Hill is considered a lot of people's "comfort show," do you have a TV show you feel that way about?

    I've been rewatching The West Wing because it gives me faith that there is any possibility that we will not become a fascist authoritarian dictatorship. So when people tell me One Tree Hill is their comfort show, I totally get it. The West Wing is mine.

    24. What's a book you recently read and loved?

    Anxious People by Fredrik Backman. I'm obsessed with it. I'm kind of devastated someone's made it into a show because I wanted to, but here we are.

    25. And what's your favorite book of all time?

    Probably my favorite book of all time, because it's a book I reread once a year very religiously, is Tiny, Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed. I'm also obsessed with anything Taylor Jenkins Reid writes. I'm obsessed with her.

    BuzzFeed: The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo is my favorite book of all time. Followed closely by Daisy Jones and the Six.

    They are brilliant. I'm so excited for the Daisy Jones TV series. I had Taylor on Work in Progress, and she's just so cool.

    26. Have you ever caught somebody on a plane or anywhere else watching a TV show or movie that you're in?

    Totally, and it's so awkward, especially when it's the person next to you and they're looking at their screen and they look at you, and then back at their screen. I always don't know what to do. I think the weirdest interaction I ever had was on a plane. I forget what airline that used to let you, like, chat [with] people in other seats using the built-in screens. Like, someone on the plane kept sending me a chat. I was like, "This is not appropriate." I don't need to get an anonymous message from somebody, like, six rows back being like, "I really like watching you." It's a little serial killer–like.

    27. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

    When I was gearing up to direct my first episode of One Tree Hill, I was shadowing a director who was on set with us, who I really respected. I asked about the vibe because, you know, a set vibe is incredibly important. It's the thing that, you know, aside from knowing my lines here on Good Sam every day, a good vibe is my number one priority on set. Like, how safe people feel and how respected people feel, and that everyone is experiencing joy at work. So I asked this director how he cultivated such a great vibe, and he said, "Easy. When I was coming up and I was shadowing a director I really respected, I learned this: The best idea always wins." 

    It was such a lightning rod moment. There's an assumption of hierarchy and ego in this business, and those are two things I do not subscribe to, and so my motto on set every day is, "The best idea always wins." Whether it's my idea, the director's idea, my costar's idea, the grip's idea, the second camera operator on camera B, the focus puller, the sound guy — it doesn't matter if it comes from the person at craft services who makes a phenomenal BLT — it's just that the best idea wins. By making that your foundation energy, you let everyone know that their opinions are valued, that their existence is respected, that who they are and why they're here matters to you. The more diverse experiences and humans you have offering thoughts, the better ideas you wind up using. It's the most glorious goal.

    You can watch Sophia Bush on Good Sam, which airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET on CBS. And also catch up with Sophia on her two podcasts: Drama Queens and Work in Progress.