'One Tree Hill': Sophia Bush brings Brooke Davis to life one last time
Confession: When Sophia Bush tweeted her final photo from the "One Tree Hill" set on the night that the series wrapped for good, we started crying. In public. It wasn't exactly our finest moment.
While the series may have ended for Sophia, though, we can look forward to 13 final episodes with Brooke Davis (and the rest of the gang, of course) before we officially say goodbye. We were lucky enough to visit Sophia and her co-stars in Wilmington back in September, when we sat down with Sophia and got the scoop on her last weeks with B. Davis.
When Season 9 begins, we meet Brooke in a very happy place as she and Haley ( Bethany Joy Galeotti) bring back a bit of nostaglia for themselves -- and the fans -- at Karen's Café. "It's great that she and Haley have come together to start this café. Joy and I were having so much fun that first episode," Sophia says, sitting with us in the "Naley" house living room set as thunder raged outside the studio. "We had this whole rhythm down -- how we would move, and where we could keep our aprons, and what we'd do to make it look like we'd done it a million times already. That's really great for [Brooke], and it's such a tie to the community and where she grew up. Brooke, more than anyone, has wanted nothing more than to be in her home. So I love her having that, and I love Brooke and Haley having that partnership, because they're such good friends."
If you're envisioning sunny café scenes that recall Season 1, you're not far off -- but things in Tree Hill never stay too simple for long. If you didn't already know, Brooke's father, played by Richard Burgi, is finally making an appearance this year after being MIA for way too long. She'll also revisit a terrifying face from her past when Xavier ( Devin McGee), who assaulted her in Season 6 and later went to prison for killing Quentin, returns to Tree Hill. Through it all, though, Brooke's priority remains her new family, as we saw her and Julian ( Austin Nichols) welcome twins Davis and Jude in the Season 8 finale.
"I do think it's nice now to see Brooke and Julian as a couple, dealing with the kids and dealing with life, and dealing with work," she says. "It's reality that when you have children, other things go by the wayside. You see that in season 9. Brooke starts working again and some of the work is doable, but some of the work needs to be shelved for a hot minute so she can deal with her kids. That's reality."
Sophia was the first actor approached by the studio about signing on for a possible Season 9. She was also the first actor to agree to return for a final 13 episodes, which she felt was ideal -- enough time to say a well-deserved goodbye to the character and the crew that she loves, but not so much time that she'd be held back later on. "The idea that we would do this as 13 final episode and almost shoot like it a miniseries really appealed to me," she says. "On a professional level, if we had shot 22 episodes, it would be one more year we'd be shooting through pilot season and unavailable for other things."
In the end, the actual story for the season was what convinced her step into Brooke's always-fabulous shoes once again. Though so much of the uber-dramatic season is under wraps right now, we can tell you that Brooke is tested in Season 9 like she's never been tested before -- and this is a woman who has had more than her fair share of troubles.
"There were some big issues -- one, in particular, that has to do with the kids -- that [executive producer Mark Schwahn] kind of pitched to me, and I thought, 'That's why I'm an actor, because people have things happen to them.' Sometimes it's just one little cog that gets off in the wheel and your life falls apart. That's what I like to do, and I'm not trying to be totally sadistic, but I enjoy that stuff."
She also relates to it. We can safely say that we've never interviewed an actor who connects as deeply with their character as Sophia does with Brooke, on many levels. "She is a person to me, after all these years," Sophia says. "I think about the things I go through in life, or that my girlfriends go through. No matter how together you are, no matter how professional you are, and no matter how many good things happen, we've all been through things that are almost unspeakable. All of us! I think it's important, especially for me, to have played someone who is flawed and who has been hurt and who has been betrayed even though she's a great person."
The considerable hurdles that Sophia has faced in her own life have enabled her to relate to the heightened, dramatic "reality" that Tree Hill presents. In this final season, she really had to dig deep into her own reserve of emotion to give Brooke her due as she experiences the highest of highs and, of course, the lowest of lows.
"I've been through things in life where people have asked, 'How do you move forward from that?' And the answer is always 'Because you do,'" Sophia says, animated, as if she's speaking to a generation, not a table full of cynical, under-caffeinated journalists. "Life matters, and passion matters, and being a good person matters, and your professionalism matters -- all of those things. I've been able to do that with Brooke, and it's very funny because I look at the timelines of her evolutions and my evolutions through my twenties being here. Sometimes Brooke was going through things before I knew I was, and sometimes Brooke was going through things after I had."
Heartache isn't the only thing that Sophia and Brooke have shared on occasion, of course -- Schwahn integrated Sophia's love for fashion into the character after seeing Sophia's painstaking involvement with Brooke's wardrobe.
When we asked Sophia -- who, of course, had not yet read the finale script -- about her last wishes for Brooke, that was a big factor. While she loves seeing Brooke at the café, she holds out hope for a return to the big dreams she's been cultivating since her Tree Hill High days.
"I really hope Brooke has, in some form, fashion back in her life. I don't know what that will be, maybe it's something small just in Tree Hill, or it could be something that would grow and be on a larger scale," she says. "I think it's great if being married and having a kid fulfill you, but my personal belief for anyone in life is that you need to be fulfilled as an individual before you can let anything else complete you. And if you are like Brooke, married with kids, those things should be bonuses in her life, because God forbid that can be taken away from you at any minute of any day. And then what are you left with? You have to be satisfied, especially as a woman, it's important to feel that you have charge of your own life. And I really want to make sure Brooke has that again so that she can have the total package. That's possible in the land of make believe."
Weigh in below in the comments section about your wishes for Brooke (and her loved ones) as we approach these final "One Tree Hill" episodes -- and don't forget to be in front of your TV screens on January 11 at 8 p.m. EST on The CW. We recommend bringing tissues. And possibly buying stock in them.