Sophia Bush returns to TV in ‘Good Sam’ after ‘Chicago P.D.’ ‘assault’

January 5, 2022
Sophia Bush (right) and Jason Isaacs (left) star in a drama about Dr. Sam Griffith, a gifted heart surgeon who excels in her new leadership role as chief of surgery after her renowned boss, Dr. Rob "Griff" Griffith, falls into a coma, on "Good Sam."
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Sophia Bush is putting her scrubs on for a return to network TV after a nearly five-year hiatus.

Bush, 39, stars as cardiothoracic surgeon Sam Griffith on CBS’ new medical drama “Good Sam” (premiering Wednesday, 10 EST/PST). The role finds her juggling a promotion to chief of cardiothoracic surgery; supervising her gruff father and former boss (Jason Isaacs) after he returns to work following a six-month coma from a gunshot wound; and falling into a budding but sure-to-be messy love triangle. If this sounds like “Grey’s Anatomy,” you’re on the right track.

“People keep saying, ‘Oh my god, it’s like your show is ‘Succession‘ meets ‘This Is Us‘ inside of ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ or ‘House,'” Bush says during a break from production.

“Good Sam” marks the “One Tree Hill” alum’s first regular network series role since leaving NBC’s “Chicago P.D.” in 2017 – something she thought might stay in her past. After leaving the series, Bush said she suffered “assault” and “abusive behavior” on set.

Bush – along with former “One Tree Hill” co-star Hilarie Burton and other female cast members of the 2003-12 teen drama – wrote a letter accusing their showrunner Mark Schwahn of “traumatizing” sexual harassment during the show’s nine-season run on WB and CW. (He was suspended and later fired from E!’s “The Royals.”)

“It was a very jarring thing, to have the two longest-running jobs that I’ve done in my career be poisoned with this kind of behavior that ran the gamut of severity,” Bush says. “It really made me rethink what I wanted to do.”

Bush shares her reasoning behind taking the new role and reflects on the shifting entertainment industry. 

In case you missed this big project:How common is sexual misconduct in Hollywood?

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Question: What attracted you to this role? And what was the audition process like?

Sophia Bush: All of the characters that (showrunner Katie Wech) writes are dynamic and smart and deep. No one is an archetype or stereotype. Sam, in particular, resonated with me so deeply. I remember texting Katie and just saying, ‘What are you doing, reading the journals that I don’t actually keep, the ones in my brain? How did you get in here?’ To see the way that she has humanized a woman who is ambitious and smart and really good at her job, and also deeply empathetic, whose sensitivity is both a superpower and at times can be viewed as a hindrance: Those are things that I understand deeply and I think so many people will relate to when they watch the show.

Q: Especially the tense relationship between your character and Jason Isaacs’ character. What was it like going toe-to-toe with him?

Bush: In the relationship between Griff and Sam, you have two people who both believe they are right. 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.

What are her perspectives? What are the things that she sees and brings to the table, because of the way that her generation has informed change and progress, the way her gender informs her own perspective?

More on the ‘Chicago P.D.’ situation:Sophia Bush fires back at critics, media after speaking out about ‘Chicago PD’ ‘assault’

Q: Have you gotten a handle on all the medical jargon?

Bush: The medical jargon is one of the things I love most. I’m such a nerd. I wanted to go to medical school. I actually wanted to be a heart surgeon. I was obsessed with pediatric heart surgery for a very long time. I don’t know what that’s all about for the younger version of me. But it really feels like I’m having this very crazy, full-circle manifestation moment. All of the things that I love are colliding. The medical terms and the surgical work; I love practicing one-handed surgical knots and working with all of the prosthetics and doing procedures. Just last week, I opened up a prosthetic chest and sawed through a sternum and then opened the clavicle and I was like, ‘This is a dream. What is happening? This is my job? This is crazy.’

Q: You regularly talk about your time on ‘One Tree Hill,’ and you’ve said you’d be open to do a reboot at some point. Is that still on the table for you someday?  

Bush: I’ll never say never, because I love getting to work with (Hilarie Burton and Bethany Joy Lenz) so much. Especially for us, it’s lovely to be able to understand what the fans have seen in our show, going back and watching it together (on the Drama Queens podcast). And it’s really fun to be able to be honest about what the experience was like and what we had to fight for and what we didn’t think was done well, and there’s so much that if we were in charge of a show like that today we would do differently. We weren’t in charge then.  We tried to do our best with our limited ability to make change on the set at the time. And now we’re all in very different positions. It’s something we think about in terms of who is telling stories for young people? Who is influencing teenagers? In what ways do those young people want to be represented and heard?

One medical show has outlasted them all:7 reasons why ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ now 15, has outlasted ‘ER’

Q: You and your co-stars alleged there was sexual harassment on the “One Tree Hill” set, and you’ve also talked about your experience on “Chicago P.D.” with assault and abusive behavior. How have those experiences affected your choice of projects since then?

Bush: It really made me rethink what I wanted to do. It’s the reason that I went and made independent movies that I loved and streaming shows with people whom I trusted and worked full-time on two elections and launched two podcasts, because I didn’t want to be stuck on a set again. Because when you’re stuck, you don’t have any options. You don’t have anywhere to go. (Bush previously recounted how NBC had told her there was “no way” for her to leave “Chicago P.D.” early after signing a seven-year contract; she ultimately left after four seasons.)  

I really have taken my time to find the people who I would be willing to come back to a network show for. I could have very easily continued making projects with Joe Swanberg and Netflix (“Easy”) and Hulu (“Love, Victor”) and all the wonderful people I’ve been working for who’ve been a total dream. I wasn’t really sure I would come back to network TV, because of the stuckness. And then I read (Wech’s) script. And then I sat down with (executive producers) Katie Wech, Jennie Snyder Urman and Joanna Klein. And I was like, ‘I would follow these women anywhere, let’s go.’

Sigh:Sophia Bush says she argued with ‘One Tree Hill’ boss over ‘inappropriate’ scenes

Contributing: Maeve McDermott and Jayme Deerwester

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