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“It was this weird thing where I was like, ‘Why is everyone sitting down? I feel like I’m being called into the principal’s office,’” Bush tells The Hollywood Reporter. But the actress wasn’t in trouble after all. It turns out the producers wanted to ask Bush to direct the penultimate episode of The CW drama, which is finally ending after nine seasons.
“I burst into tears and acknowledged what an amazing honor that was to be trusted with that,” she says.
Bush, who stars as Brooke Davis on the series, has directed several other episodes of the show. She says that directing the second to last episode of the show felt “very poignant.”
“Everything was really important and everything was really valuable,” she says. “Because I knew that it was the last chance that I was going to have to tell these stories and to honor these characters and to really show their relationships. It just felt supremely important.”
The episode, which airs Wednesday, March 28, gets back to what Bush calls the “heart of the show” – the relationships. Many of the bigger conflicts of the final season – including Nathan’s (James Lafferty) kidnapping and the return of the man who attacked Brooke – have been resolved by this point. The 186th episode follows Haley (Bethany Joy Galeotti) as she prepares to emcee the annual Tree Hill Burning Boat Festival, while Brooke (Bush) uses the opportunity to process her father’s betrayal. Meanwhile Julian (Austin Nichols) tries to breathe new life into a past project and Clay (Robert Buckley) and Quinn (Shantel VanSanten) get ready for a new addition to their beach house.
“[The final two episodes] really get back to who all of these people are at their core and why they love each other and why they fought to build a life and community together,” says Bush.
While the series’ final episode will air on April 4, the show wrapped filming in November 2011. Bush, 29, who points out that she has spent a third of her life on the show, says that after they first wrapped, she cried for some time. “For weeks everyone stopped calling me Sophia and just started calling me waterworks everywhere I went,” she says.
However, now that some time has passed, Bush, a Los Angeles native, says she enjoys being home and waking up in her own bed. “Being able to walk my dogs in my own neighborhood and being able to see my family and see my friends that I grew up with that I didn’t get to see for nine years has all just been great,” she says.
Bush, who has become extremely active in humanitarian issues, has been focusing on her causes and philanthropy. She’ll be traveling to Haiti in the coming weeks, and then to Congo over the summer. She’s also involved with Pencils of Promise, a nonprofit that builds schools in the developing world, and the environmental nonprofit Global Green.
In January, she competed with the charity F Cancer in the Mozilla Firefox Challenge, powered by CrowdRise, and ended up winning for the most money raised — garnering more than $110,000 for her charity, which sets out to educate the public on recognizing crucial early warning signs of cancer.
“There’s a lot of really inspiring groups of people that you can work with and be associated with and help make change,” she says. “I’m really invigorated by the sort of swing in how there’s a ‘trend’ that I see that people are realizing that it’s actually really cool to be a change maker.”
Bush is extremely active on Twitter and Facebook in getting her fans involved in some of her causes, which range from helping to clean up in the Gulf to gay rights.
“We don’t have to shout quite as loud, people are getting really excited about and passionate about change so it’s really cool.”
Bush also recently filmed a pilot called Partners, a comedy shot in front of a live audience, which Bush says was a really exciting experience. “The energy is crazy and you’re running around totally over caffeinated it’s like you’re doing a play,” she says.
The cast has even bonded, taking an outing to New York to see Broadway’s How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying, which castmember Michael Urie is starring in.
“It’s so special when you click with the people you’re working with, it’s lovely,” she says.
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