The Untold Truth Of Sophia Bush

Sophia Bush caught her big break when she landed the role of Brooke Davis on One Tree Hill in 2003. For nearly a decade, she portrayed the carefree, popular teen for whom every fan rooted as she grew from the love interest of Chad Michael Murray's Lucas Scott into a successful, independent fashion designer.

After the hit CW teen drama went off the air in 2012 following an impressive nine-season run, Bush went on to star on the short-lived television series "Partners," while focusing much of her time and energy on her activist work. Two years later, she officially left her famous on-screen alter ego behind when she landed a lead role on "Chicago P.D." before going on to voice Voyd in the highly anticipated "Incredibles 2." She followed that up with guest spots on various TV shows — including "Jane the Virgin" and "This Is Us." She also appeared in the series "Love, Victor," and the 2022 film "Deborah," among other projects.

Basically, the actress has worked steadily throughout her post-"OTH" career. But while there's much to be said about Bush's on-screen counterparts, how much do you really know about the TV star's real life? Here are a few facts that might surprise you.

She really regrets marrying Chad Michael Murray

Bush has a history of dating her co-stars, including fellow "One Tree Hill" alums James Lafferty and Austin Nichols and "Chicago P.D." Jesse Lee Soffer. But the relationship she seems to regret the most is her notoriously short-lived marriage to OTH's Chad Michael Murray. The former castmates tied the knot in April 2005 but separated after just five months. As they continued to work together, the two finalized their divorce in December 2006. 

"Everybody's been 22 and stupid. It was not a thing I actually really wanted to do," Bush said on Andy Cohen's SiriusXM radio show in June 2018. Explaining that she felt pressured into marrying him, she said, "Because how do you let everybody down?"

The actress' comments went viral and sparked swift backlash among OTH fans. Murray's rep hit back in a statement, calling the story "ludicrous." Meanwhile, Bush clarified things on Twitter, claiming she was merely making fun of her past self. She added, "If all the years that have passed haven't made it WILDLY clear that we're all grown ups who've become the best versions of ourselves, then I just don't know what to say."

She didn't want to be an actress

It's hard to imagine, but, if it wasn't for a high school requirement to perform in a play, Bush may not have ever caught the acting bug. "I wanted to be a doctor since I was a small child," she told BuzzFeed in 2014, explaining that one formative theater production had changed everything.

"Something just clicked, and I realized that my passion for English and my love of literature could be put into action. It rocked my world and I just thought, I get this," Bush told Mariska Hargitay in an interview for Vegas magazine.

Bush jokingly told BuzzFeed, "So that was an interesting conversation to have with my parents." With dreams of Hollywood suddenly on the horizon, the future TV star booked her first manager. However, she remained focused on her studies and only acted during school breaks. "I remember my agent saying it felt like I was treating my career like an extracurricular activity — and I was. School came first."

Brooke Davis or Goldilocks?

Bush booked her long-running gig on "One Tree Hill" during her junior year of college. While her trajectory toward fame was rather swift, the teen drama's showrunners didn't make the audition process easy on the actress.

"I came in and read, and was told that I was not sexy enough to play Brooke," she said at the 2011 panel discussion An Evening with One Tree Hill. "So then I came in again and wore this mini-skirt that I wanted to die [in]." Creator Mark Schwahn deemed her outfit to be "too short." Of the "too sexy"/"not sexy enough" criticism, Bush said, "I guess it was like, you know, Goldilocks — the third try, I got it right."

Even the process of being offered the part proved to be a challenge, as Schwahn had jokingly told her that her audition hadn't gone as well as expected. "I was like, 'I blew it. I totally blew it,'" she recalled. "And all the guys ran in and was like, 'You got the job!'" Laughing, she added, "So that was the first time I punched Mark Schwann."

She's an outspoken activist

Sophia Bush is a longtime activist devoted to using her celebrity to foster real change in the world. While the actress is a supporter of a number of charities, the causes closest to her heart include human rights, animal rights, gun control, and environmentalism.

"Advocacy has been my life far before I had a platform for it," she said on Refinery29's "UnStyled" podcast in December 2017, adding that her outspoken activism and liberal views have been known to make her a target of online trolls. "As they like to call me a 'libtard,' or a coastal elite, they're so shocked to find out that I've been a sharp shooter since I was twelve years old."

Rather than keeping her down, the risk of backlash empowers Bush to continue to balance her dream day job with her philanthropic work. She jokingly told BuzzFeed, "One of my best friends describes me as an activist who is inconvenienced — in a good way — by her career as an actress." She continued, "I love my job, but I couldn't keep doing this if it ever actually precluded me from working on the world. I would just get another job."

Her family suffered a tragic loss

On January 8, 2011, Bush and her family suffered an unimaginable loss. During the assassination attempt made on Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Ariz., the actress' 9-year-old cousin, Christina Green, was fatally shot. Eighteen people in total were shot during the tragic attack, which claimed the lives of six people. Bush's cousin was the youngest victim.

"Devastating," Bush tweeted at the time, adding, "There are no words to explain what my cousin's family is going through in Arizona. How can this be? Violence is never the answer." 

Days later, the TV star reflected on the loss during an appearance on "Chelsea Lately." "It's been a lesson more than anything for me and for my family that life is incredibly short," she told host Chelsea Handler (via Access Online). "You've gotta take every day and tell the people you love that you do. It's really important for all of us to take a step back."

Her ex-boyfriend passed away

Bush suffered another terrible loss in April 2015. Her ex-boyfriend, Google executive Dan Fredinburg, tragically died in an avalanche on Mount Everest when a devastating earthquake hit Nepal. 

"There are no adequate words," the actress wrote on Instagram, noting how his untimely death had significantly impacted her. "Dan Fredinburg was one-of-a-kind. Fearless. Funny ... He was one of my favorite human beings on Earth." The former couple had remained close friends after calling it quits just a year before. 

"I'm devastated and simultaneously so deeply grateful to have known and loved him," she continued, before centering her message on the 1,000 other victims of the natural disaster. "Disasters like this are often unquantifiable, the enormity is too much to understand. Please remember that each person who is now gone was someone's Dan."

Inspired by Fredinburg's actionable philanthropy to foster change in the world, Bush worked to raise awareness for the Celebrating Dan CrowdRise campaign. Prior to his passing, the engineer had been raising money for Orphan Gift. The first $60,000 of the over $100,000 raised went to that cause, while the rest provided aid to rebuilding Nepal, as well as to STEM education.

She's a crazy dog lady

To say that Sophia Bush loves dogs might be an understatement. "[I'm] the dog version of the crazy cat lady," she once told Pets WebMD, explaining that she'd grown up with a family dog — a protective Doberman named Bouncer — before rescuing her first dog at only 6 years old.

"My tennis teacher's dog, who wasn't spayed, got out one night," the actress explained. "They found her a few hours later, and when they realized she was pregnant, they decided to give the puppies up for adoption." After some begging and pleading, her parents eventually gave in and let her adopt one. The experience sparked a lifelong love of rescue dogs. 

She told Us Weekly in 2012, "I once fostered eight pit bull puppies in my house." However, at the time of her Pets WebMD interview, she only had three. "My two best friends live with me," Bush said, "which is great because the dogs are a lot to manage." We can imagine!

She's connected with her fans

If Bush isn't doing philanthropic work, acting, or hanging out with her rescue dogs, she's most likely actively engaging in conversations with her fans on social media. The actress takes being a role model seriously, and she uses Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to talk to individual followers about anything and everything, ranging from the goings-on in their daily lives to relevant social issues.

"To have conversations with people I'll never meet but know on a soul level because of social media is amazing," she told BuzzFeed. "It's so beautiful and inspiring to have conversations about real life stuff with my followers. We talk about how it feels be in love, and how to accept who you are; how we can own the good and the bad and everything in between about who were are as people without needing to apologize for it."

Her ultimate goal? To use social media as a tool to inspire young people to get involved in fostering change. "I have all these humans who I may not really know," she said. "But, in some ways, I feel like we know each other the best."

She invented the air hashtag

Bush isn't only an actress-activist extraordinaire. As the self-dubbed inventor of the air hashtag, she's also a savvy social media influencer. 

"Many years ago at one of the many nerd conferences I attend ... I was speaking to the founder of Twitter," she explained during an appearance on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" in 2014. "And I was like, '#happening,'" the actress continued, while using her air hashtag gesture. "And he was like, 'What did you just do?' And I said, 'You know, some people will air quote, like it was 'awesome,' and when you want to air hashtag you do down, to the side — there's your pound sign.'"

While host Jimmy Fallon was quick to bring up the popular air hashtag bit he's done on his own show, Bush jokingly argued that hers was better, saying, "Mine only takes one hand and you don't have to say 'hashtag.'" To be fair, even then-CEO of Twitter, Dick Costolo, was impressed by it. "@SophiaBush hey, @ev told me about the air hashtag," he tweeted in 2012. "I'm spreading it around the Twitter office. Love it. Big hit here." No big deal.

She's obsessed with Law & Order: SVU

Bush can be counted among the millions of fans who are obsessed with "Law & Order: SVU." So much so that the TV star was understandably beside herself with excitement when "Chicago P.D." began filming crossover episodes with the popular series.

"We have a case that we need a little bit of help with that began in New York City and that we're now finding the M.O. in Chicago," she explained to TV Guide ahead of the first crossover episode in 2014, "and SVU was investigating it when it was up there and now it's on our hands."

But as Bush continued, her inner fangirl came out. "I'm the biggest SVU fan," she said. "So to have [Ice T] and Kelli [Giddish] come down and work with us and now to be going to work with Mariska [Hargitay], I feel like it's my birthday."

If this epic selfie of the actress with Mariska Hargitay is anything to go by, that feeling seems to be mutual. "The girls are back in town," Bush wrote in the caption, adding the hashtags, "#bensay #buddycops #shouldwemakeamovie #theheatpart2perhaps #wedcrushit."

She loves her raspy voice

As much as Bush is synonymous with her TV and activist work, she's also known for her signature raspy voice — not that she's complaining.

"I love my voice," she wrote for the "Today" show's "Wear What You Want" week in 2017. "It's just how I talk. No, I'm not sick. No, I don't have a cold. I will take your Ricolas, but I don't particularly need them." While writing about self-acceptance and owning who you are, she added, "I was made this way. My voice sounds like this. Why would I want to change it?" Well said.

This empowering stance on her literal voice transfers over to her figurative one, as well. "I don't just mean my speaking voice," she continued. "I mean my voice as in my right and power to speak my mind and state my opinions and fight for the things that I believe in."

She spoke out against Mark Schwahn

Bush was one of dozens of women to sign an open letter accusing "One Tree Hill" creator Mark Schwahn of sexual misconduct and verbal abuse in November 2017. Soon after, "The Royals" cast and crew spoke out against his alleged abusive behavior on their set, and the disgraced showrunner was eventually fired from E! following an internal investigation. 

At the time, Bush tweeted, "43 women came forward. To the ones who did and to the ones who didn't or couldn't, I hope this news is a salve to your souls. To the other predators out there? I hope this is a lesson that sometimes, even if it takes time, justice is served. You're next."

The actress highlighted her own personal experiences with her old boss the following June. "The first time Mark Schwahn grabbed my a**, I hit him in front of six other producers, and I hit him f**king hard," Bush said on Andy Cohen's SiriusXM radio show. When asked why she stayed on the show, she rhetorically asked, "Why am I supposed to suffer and kill my own career because somebody else can't keep their d**k in their pants?"

Her shocking Chicago P.D. exit

Bush shocked "Chicago P.D." fans when she exited the show after four seasons in May 2017. However, details surrounding her seemingly sudden departure have remained murky ever since she and viewers alike first said goodbye to her character, Detective Erin Lindsay.

"[It] took me a long time and a lot of hard work to get out of that show," the actress wrote that October in response to a social media user who alleged that she was simply cut from the series (via The Hollywood Reporter). "Please don't demean my capabilities by degrading my position. I left because I wanted to. End of story."

Two months later, Bush finally shared some insight into why exactly she wanted to leave on Refinery29's "UnStyled" podcast. Explaining that she'd given the showrunners an ultimatum after the show's third season wrapped, the TV star revealed that she needed certain things to change in the series' workplace environment for her to stay on past the fourth season. While she didn't elaborate on the specifics of these requested changes, Bush revealed, "I realized by the end of the second season I couldn't do that job anymore."

She's moving behind the camera

Months after Sophia Bush's surprising "Chicago P.D." exit, the actress proved that she had no intentions on leaving the world of television any time soon. In October 2017, she signed a talent hold and development deal with 20th Century Fox TV. The impressive gig would not only see her star in a comedy or drama during the 2018-2019 pilot season but also see her behind the scenes as an executive producer on various projects.

"Well hot damn! Keeping this a secret the past few months has been sooo haaard! SURPRISE Y'ALL!" she tweeted at the time, adding the hashtags, "#DreamJob #PinchMe #Actor #Producer #Director."

"Now more than ever, vital female voices need to be heard," the multi-hyphenate released in a statement to Deadline in 2017. "I'm thrilled to begin developing content that inspires and excites me at 20th Century Fox TV." Among the projects resulting from that development deal was the 2018 documentary "A Girl Named C," on which she had a behind-the-scenes role as producer.

Sophia Bush does her own stunt driving

Sophia Bush is no slouch behind the wheel, something she made clear during a 2015 interview with TheWrap. At the time, Bush was still starring on "Chicago P.D." when she recounted that, hands down, the most exciting part of that season was a four-wheeled stunt she'd filmed for the show.

"By far one of the coolest things I got to do all year was film this high speed chase across Lake Street in Chicago," she recalled. "We had about a mile of the street shut down." She went on to say that she's become "quite the amateur race car driver" and production allows her to do her "own stunt driving on the show."

Apparently, Bush had been doing stunt driving long before joining "Chicago P.D." Interviewed by Seventeen back in 2007, she revealed that she also did some wild driving in the film "The Hitcher." "I got to do a 360-degree spin in the car," she declared. "At first, they didn't want to let me do it, but I begged and begged." Ultimately, she did the 360 (although she was only supposed to do a 180), and enjoyed the experience so much she asked the stunt coordinator if she could do it again. "The adrenaline afterward is really amazing!" she gushed.

She has her own fragrance line

In 2015, Sophia Bush took a left turn down an entrepreneurial road when she became a partner in I Smell Great, a fragrance and beauty line launched by Randi Shinder. Bush signed on as both a brand ambassador and an equity partner in the business. As Bush told People, I Smell Great wasn't just an opportunity to make money from a whole new revenue stream outside of acting, it was also a venture that reflected her own personal philosophy about beauty. 

"I have always been disheartened [by] how beauty has always been marketed in a way of telling women they're not enough and that they need to buy something to feel better about themselves," she said, explaining that the products from I Smell Great were meant to be empowering and inspirational for the women who use them. "For us, it's all about products that women love to use that make us feel good, that make us feel confident and we want those things to be based in an affirmation," she continued.

She echoed that sentiment in a video promoting the brand. "I truly believe in women's empowerment and making sure that women feel their absolute greatest," she said,.

She had a creepy encounter with an ultra-rude 'fan'

Sophia Bush has been fiercely protective of her private life, but has also refused to stop living life the way she would had she not become famous. However, that's occasionally led to some uncomfortable experiences.

Appearing on Penn Badgely's "Podcrushed" podcast, Bush recalled being in a Chicago Bar on St. Patrick's Day when a guy seated nearby kept filming her with his phone, even after she'd politely asked him to cut it out. "I'm not a zoo animal," Bush said, explaining that she'd become so fed up that she decided to confront the dude. "I finally go over and I say, 'Hi, I'm a person. I'd like to shake your hand. My name is Sophia." She then proceeded to tell the man that he made her uncomfortable and ask him to stop.

The guy refused, insisting that because she was a celebrity out in a public place, she was fair game. "And he goes, 'I watch your show, so I pay your f***ing salary. You are a piece of meat to me.' And I just went, 'What?'" Bush recalled, adding that he then told her, "You're just a TV prostitute." Because of that experience, Bush said she no longer enjoyed going out in public the way she used to. "Now I'd much rather be at home," she admitted.

Her second marriage ended after a year

Following her brief marriage to Chad Michael Murray, Sophia Bush was ready to try again in 2021, when she revealed that her boyfriend of a year, Grant Hughes, had popped the question. The following year, the couple got married. They also launched their own nonprofit, the Bush Hughes Foundation for Progress.

Like her first marriage, Bush's second one wound up ending in a relatively short period of time. Just 13 months after tying the knot, Bush filed for divorce. A source confirmed the split in a statement to People. "Sophia and Grant were friends for 10 years and bonded during COVID through their love of community service," the statement read. "They continue to run their nonprofit together and remain good friends."

The pair's conscious uncoupling was not complicated, and didn't appear to be acrimonious. As People reported, Bush's divorce filing indicated that neither of the exes would pay or receive any spousal support, and that each would pay their own legal fees relating to the divorce.

After divorcing her second husband, she reportedly began dating a woman

After divorcing husband No. 2, Grant Hughes, in the fall of 2022, Sophia Bush reportedly dipped her toe back into the dating pool. The first inkling of Bush's new direction in dating came when she shared a June 2023 Instagram post of herself on a panel at the Cannes Lions festival in France. Among her fellow panelists was former professional soccer player Ashlyn Harris, who had recently split from her wife, fellow pro soccer player Ali Krieger.

Rumors the two women were dating began surfacing, particularly when they were seen together attending a very special soccer game in Seattle, watching Megan Rapinoe play her final professional game. As of November 2023, neither Bush nor Harris have publicly commented about their rumored romance. 

However, someone apparently in the know told Us Weekly that they were indeed dating, and had hit it off immediately. "It's only been a couple of weeks since their first official date, but things already feel really natural between them," the source said. "They love being together. They love sports and want to do good in the world." However, another source insisted the two were just friends, and that various media reports had misinterpreted their relationship. "Sophia and Ashlyn insist they were just friends, but by all accounts, it was instant chemistry," the second source said, explaining that the two "bonded over their breakups and having to start over."

The advice she'd give to her 20-year-old self

Sophia Bush was just 20 years old when she was cast as Brooke Davis on "One Tree Hill," and she's experienced quite a journey in the years that have passed since then. 

Interviewed by People in 2017, Bush — then 35 — reflected on the advice she would give that younger version of herself. "The advice I would give to my younger self — or really any young woman who is trying to find her place in the world — is just to stop worrying about being somebody else's definition of enough," Bush said. 

As an example, Bush pointed to something that author Glennon Doyle said, while they appeared together at a conference, that stuck with her: that the mistakes that people make along the way are what contribute to making them who they become when they grow older. "I look back at all of the messy aspects of my 20s and I know that the woman that I am in my 30s was equally influenced by those things as by, you know, everything that I was able to achieve."

She returned to TV in her own series, but it didn't last

When deciding on her next project, Sophia Bush took her time after her exit from "Chicago P.D." It wasn't until five years later, in fact, that Bush finally returned to television with the CBS medical drama "Good Sam." Serving as both star and executive producer, the series marked Bush's arrival as a decision maker behind the scenes, not just an actor for hire. 

Bush played Dr. Sam Griffith, who's just been promoted to her hospital's chief of cardiothoracic surgery after her boss (who's also her dad, played by Jason Isaacs) fell into a six-month coma after being shot. This creates some interesting power shifts when he returns to the hospital, and she's now his boss. 

"You have this dynamic where a man — a white guy in his mid-50s who's always been at the top of his game — is being challenged on how he sees the world not just by his subordinate, but his daughter who has come up in the world of cardiothoracic surgery, which is incredibly male-dominated," Bush told USA Today of her new series when it launched in early 2022. The series was decidedly not a hit; CBS pulled the plug after just 13 episodes aired, with "Good Sam" ending its run as the network's lowest-rated show. 

Sophia Bush's West End debut was cut short for medical reasons

In 2023, Sophia Bush shifted away from television when she was cast in a theatrical production of "2:22 – A Ghost Story" in London's West End. "I love theater," Bush told Broadway World, noting that being in long-running television shows had prevented her from pursuing similar opportunities in the past. However, the cancellation of "Good Sam," and the fact that she had not other television commitments, allowed her to make her professional stage debut. "It felt like all the stars had aligned," she said. 

Unfortunately, Bush's West End run didn't last for long. Bush took on the role in May, but in July she announced she was dropping out. "Last month several members of our company were hit with a virus & in the following weeks everyone recovered except for me," she wrote in a lengthy Instagram post, noting that her doctors had advised her to cease performing and return to the U.S. to focus on recovering. 

Admitting she was "gutted" over having to exit, Bush described her brief experience in theater as a career high point, and one of the most artistically fulfilling experiences of her life. "Being a part of this company put me back in my body and in my soul," she added. "I was reminded, on a cellular level, of why I do this job & how much I love acting."