Sad Details About Hallmark Star Hilarie Burton's Personal Life

The following contains mention of sexual assault. 

Hilarie Burton has starred in numerous Hallmark movies with feel-good plots that always result in a happy ending, but her real life has been anything but perfect. After joining the network with the 2011 movie "Naughty or Nice," Burton went on to make more heartfelt movies until she was sadly forced to exit the Hallmark Channel in 2019. In a lengthy X post, formerly Twitter, the former "One Tree Hill" actor told fans that she had asked the higher-ups for more diversity within the cast, but her request was met with an ultimatum. "I was told 'take it or leave it.' I left it. And the paycheck. S***ty being penalized for standing up for inclusivity. I really wanted that job. It was close to my house. It paid really well," she wrote, adding that she stands by her decision despite losing the role.

Burton has always been open and outspoken about the plights she has faced in her life. From experiencing infertility to being harassed while on set, the "White Collar" star has gone through many sad moments that she isn't afraid to speak out about.

Hilarie Burton was harassed by her One Tree Hill boss

Hilarie Burton was just 20 when she first starred as Peyton Sawyer in "One Tree Hill," and during her six seasons on the show, she alleged that the show's creator, Mark Schwahn, sexually assaulted her, as reported by Variety. According to Burton, Schwahn kissed her without consent twice and groped her while his wife was present. She also claimed that he invited her to a swingers club, but she chose not to show up. "There was no way I was going to go. So I stood him up, and he was pretty angry about it," she recalled. Burton detailed that at one point during Season 4 of the show, Schwahn tried to massage her shoulders, and she spun around to say, "You gotta stop. Mark, I'm telling you, as your friend, your wife is going to hear about this s**t. You're going to lose your job. You can't touch the girls anymore."

After that incident, Burton stated on her podcast "Drama Queens," with fellow "OTH" stars Sophia Bush and Bethany Joy Lenz, that Schwahn wrote himself into a scene with her in Season 5 so that she'd be forced to hug him. Burton felt so uneasy that she invited her father to come on set with her, along with her brother and boyfriend's dad. "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," she pointed out to her former co-stars.

Hilarie Burton shared her fertility struggles

In March 2018, Hilarie Burton announced the arrival of her daughter, George, but with it came the heartbreaking story of her struggles trying to conceive. "It took a long time for Jeffrey and I to have this baby. The first time I got pregnant, it took a year and a half. I surprised him on Christmas with baby Seahawk booties. We cried. We celebrated. We picked out names. And we lost that baby," she wrote in an Instagram post. Burton shared that it was five years before she was able to carry her daughter to full-term and wanted to give others hope. "Fertility is a fickle thing. And for the other couples out there who have had dark days, we want to introduce our miracle baby to you and send you our love and support in finding yours," the actor wrote.

Burton opened up more about how trying to conceive negatively impacted her marriage with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in her memoir "The Rural Diaries" (via E! News). "There was no romance; the whole thing had become a science experiment. Jeff wanted me to wine and dine him. He wanted to go on a date. He is a narrative-oriented person, and the narrative of peeing on a stick and rushing to have sex was not attractive to him," she wrote. Burton continued, "It was a vicious, unhappy cycle. Every single month that went by felt like a tiny funeral."

Hilarie Burton thought she had to keep quiet about getting groped by Ben Affleck

Once upon a time, Hilarie Burton was an MTV VJ for "Total Request Live" and interviewed many celebrities, including Ben Affleck, who Burton claimed groped her. An X user brought up the incident in a now-deleted tweet captured by People: "He also grabbed Hilarie Burton's breasts on TRL once. Everyone forgot though." Burton replied, "I didn't forget." In "The Rural Diaries," she shared, "I was nineteen, and I'd taken it on the chin and kept going. One of MTV's top brass called me and said, 'You handled that so well.' I didn't realize that I was being groomed — trained to be a good girl and a good sport, someone who would put up with much worse behavior."

Sadly, it took Burton a long time before she realized she had a voice. "I was told that if you speak up, your career is over. You'll be labeled a troublemaker," she told People. Burton opened up about the guilt she felt about keeping quiet, which enabled the abusers to continue their behavior. Now that she has her daughter, George, she is mindful about raising her to be outspoken. "She will never be a pleaser. If my daughter tells someone to f*** off, awesome. I wish I had had the ability to do that," the "Surprised by Love" actor stated.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

Hilarie Burton lost her dear friend Willie Garson

When Hilarie Burton starred in the drama "White Collar" with Willie Garson, they became close friends. Sadly, the "Sex and the City" actor died from pancreatic cancer in September 2021. "My phone hasn't stopped. Friends. Coworkers. Total strangers. The world knows that @willie.garson has been a pivotal player in my life. So I will not be able to fully articulate my feelings here. I'm gonna need some time. [Jeffrey Dean Morgan] and I are devastated," Burton wrote on Instagram. She shared, "He would pay you the biggest compliment in the world ... And right as you'd blush, he'd temper it with 'alright, calm down!' And then laughter. He'd stop you before you could rebuff the compliment." As a tribute, Burton got a tattoo of the words "calm down" on her forearm right before rushing to see him for the last time.

In a 2023 appearance on "The View," Burton revealed that she and Garson bonded over being parents while working on "White Collar." She stated, "When I met Willie, my son was three months old. I got a job with him. He just adopted his son. We were new parents together." Burton reminisced about hanging out with Garson in New York City and got choked up as she described him as her "biggest cheerleader."

Hilarie Burton struggled with depression

Hilarie Burton didn't have a hard time conceiving her first child, a son named Augustus, with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but she faced some difficulties after he was born. In the podcast "Let's Talk Off Camera with Kelly Ripa," Burton shared, "For me, I, in a million years, would've never anticipated that I would have [postpartum depression] because I was such a Pollyanna. Right? I could make the best out of anything." Expecting to tackle motherhood without outside help, she eventually got a baby nurse upon realizing she'd be alone in Los Angeles without family. "We got a recommendation for this baby nurse. And it became very apparent very quickly that she was taking care of me," Burton explained, then telling Kelly Ripa, "She was there to make sure that I ate and showered and did all the things and I was so ashamed that I had to hire a person to take care of me. That was humiliating."

Burton shared with Us Weekly that she didn't realize she had postpartum depression after having Augustus. "I didn't know I did because I was in the fog of it, but I wasn't fun to be around and I was severely depressed after I had my first miscarriage ... I can look at it now and see how self-destructive I was," she admitted. Through her writing "The Rural Diaries" and the help of Morgan, Burton was able to process her grief in her own way. "He's a good man," she said of her husband.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.