Sophia Bush Opens Up About Her Decision to Quit Chicago P.D.: 'My Body Was Falling Apart'
"I programmed myself to tolerate the intolerable," she said
Sophia Bush is opening up about the shocking reason she left NBC’s Chicago PD.
On Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast on Monday, the actress revealed that after visiting Onsite, a retreat full of therapeutic and personal growth workshops, she had an epiphany.
“I realized that as I was thinking I was like being the tough guy, doing the thing, showing up to work, I programmed myself to tolerate the intolerable,” Bush, 36, said of her time on the NBC drama. “Part of the big break for me in saying, ‘No. I don’t necessarily know what it is, but I know that what’s happening is not good for me and everything has to change.’ That was a big cut off point when I quit my job.”
“I quit because, what I’ve learned is I’ve been so programmed to be a good girl and to be a work horse and be a tug boat that I have always prioritized tugging the ship for the crew, for the show, for the group, ahead of my own health. The reality was that my body was, like, falling apart, because I was really, really unhappy,” she added.
“I don’t have to give everyone the specific breakdown of exactly why I left until I’m ready to do that. But, the overarching theme for me was that I landed my dream job. I landed this job that, since I was 20 years old and trying to become an actor, I said I wanted. And aspects of it, don’t get me wrong, were wonderful. But … I knew by the end of the second season I couldn’t do that job anymore,” Bush, 35, told Refinery 29’s editor-in-chief Christene Barberich on the UnStyled podcast.
While Bush told Shepard there were “aspects of [the show] that I loved,” she said the work conditions, including getting sick in the cold Chicago weather — were not acceptable.
“I internalized and sort of like, inhabited that role of ‘pull the tug boat’ to the point where just because I’m unhappy or I’m being mistreated or I’m being abused at work, I’m not gonna f— up this job for all these people and what about the camera guy whose two daughters I love and this is how he pays their rent? It becomes such a big thing,” she said. “When your bosses tell you that if you raise a ruckus, you’ll cost everyone their job, you believe them.”
Bush, who had signed a seven-year contract at the beginning of the show, said that she notified her bosses of the issues between seasons 3 and 4 but was “told to stop.”
“I said, ‘Okay, you can put me in the position of going quietly of my own accord or you can put me in the position of suing the network to get me out of my deal and I’ll write an op-ed for The New York Times and tell them why,’ ” she said.
Bush then found out her complaints had been “hidden” from former NBC president Jennifer Salke. (She claimed Salke later reached out to Bush saying, “We would never try to make you stay.”). “That I really appreciated.” said Bush.
“I work really hard. I know I have a good reputation. I am not a difficult person to work with,” she said. “Nearing my tenure there, I was probably difficult to be around because I was in so much pain and I felt so ignored.”
PEOPLE is out to NBC for comment.
It’s not the first time Bush has spoken out about poor work conditions. In November 2017, One Tree Hill creator Mark Schwan was accused of sexual harassment and physical and emotional manipulation by 18 female cast and crew members who worked on the hit CW show — including Bush.
“You’ve had 13 years of work experience that have been a bit of pattern,” Shepard asked Bush. “How are you going forward?”
“Our experience on One Tree Hill was unpleasant, but our boss who was a bad dude lived in L.A.,” she said. “Eighty percent of the time we were on set loving our experience and each other and then he would come to town and it’d be like watch out for f—ing Handsy-McHandsy over there. There was a lot that was inappropriate but it wasn’t all the time…it wasn’t the same.”
“One was like, a guy who we’re like, ‘Oh God, he’s back.’ And one was a consistent onslaught barrage of abusive behavior,” she added. “You start to lose your way when someone assaults you in a room full of people and everyone literally looks away, looks at the floor, looks at the ceiling, and you’re the one woman in the room and every man who’s twice your size doesn’t do something you go, ‘Oh that wasn’t worth defending? I’m not worth defending?'”
Schwahn has never spoken about any of the allegations.