Hilarie Burton Tearfully Says Costar Moira Kelly Gave Her the Strength to Leave ‘One Tree Hill’: ‘You Saved My Life’

Women supporting women. When Moira Kelly joined the “Drama Queens” podcast to recap the latest episode, she got into an emotional conversation with hosts Hilarie Burton, Sophia Bush and Joy Lenz.

“Hearing honestly what all of you young women had to go through — I don’t want to get choked up. If I could go back, I would have made my presence stronger there,” the New York native, 53, said during the Monday, October 25, episode of the One Tree Hill podcast. “I felt like, you know, being somewhat of a veteran, you were all so very young coming into this situation, there’s a part of me that feels like I let you all down.”

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Kelly, who starred as Karen Roe on the CW drama, was seemingly referencing what the young stars went through with creator Mark Schwahn, who was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of cast members and crew in 2017. The writer never responded to any allegations.

Hilarie Burton Gets Emotional With Moira Kelly About One Tree Hill Experience
Hilarie Burton and Moira Kelly Shutterstock (2)

“If I had been more present, I would have been more aware maybe of what was going on, I surely would have said something,” the Cutting Edge star continued. “I surely would have done something, and so, if I could go back and do anything different, I would make my presence so solid on that show and I would have made myself so available to all of you.”

Hilarie Burton Moira Kelly Saved My Life
CW

After a brief pause, Burton, 39, began crying.

“You were, though. Moira, this is the first time I’ve seen you since I left the show. I’ve wanted to tell you this for years and years and years, but in the last episode of the show, everyone in my world was telling me, ‘You can’t leave. You can’t leave.’ I didn’t direct because I didn’t want to be on set all day because it was so bad,” the White Collar vet, who previously alleged that she was sexually harassed by Schwahn, explained. “You came and you sat next to me and you started off by just joking, and you were like, ‘What’s going on?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know what to do,’ and you said, ‘Run.’ You started it off with, like, a joke, and I was like, ‘Yeah?’ You said to me, ‘There’s so many chapters in life and this is just one. This is just one.'”

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The Rural Diaries author, who exited the show at the end of season 6 because of what she allegedly experienced with the showrunner, added, “You were the only person that gave me permission to go, but I so valued your opinion of me and of our business and the way you prioritized your family over work, and that’s what I wanted — what you had is what I wanted. You didn’t have to say anything because you lived it and we could just, like, see it. … I have wanted to thank you for that, honestly, since I was 26 years old. … You set such an excellent example for all of us and you were safe.”

After the Panic alum logged off the podcast, Burton continued chatting with Lenz, 40, and Bush, 39, about her time on the show and the conversation they just had with their former costar.

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“It’s like, ‘Oh, my God. You don’t know that you saved my life.’ I don’t know what would have happened to me if I stayed. I met my husband [Jeffrey Dean Morgan]. My son [Gus] exists because Moira Kelly told me to run and so I did,” she shared. “I just think about how different my life would be if she wasn’t that one person to give me permission to just go.”

The Lethal Weapon alum met Morgan, 55, within weeks of wrapping the show in 2009. The couple immediately hit it off and welcomed son Gus in March 2010. The Walking Dead costars, who also welcomed daughter George in 2018, tied the knot in 2019.

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