It's finally here. For One Tree Hill fans, the much-anticipated Season 5 airs tonight with a special two-hour premiere (8 pm/ET, CW). Along with a significant jump ahead in time, we'll see some rocky relationships, emotional turmoil and new faces, but many questions loom. Will there be a proposal? Will they all return home? And where did the strike make its cut? Sophia Bush talked with TVGuide.com about the upcoming twists and turns of the Tree Hill gang and why skipping the college years might just save this show.
TVGuide.com: I'm so excited for the premiere; we're four years ahead now.
Sophia Bush: I really am, too. It's one of the neater things we've ever gotten to do, and I know it's reinvigorated the actors and the writing staff. Nobody wants to see the college years. I think you run out of interesting storylines.
TVGuide.com: Will this keep the show going, unlike some other teen dramas that attempted the college years?
Bush: Well, what's very advantageous to us is that it gives us a lot of leeway with creating new obstacles for all these characters. It's only been four years. Nobody is completely set when they're just getting out of college. You're still so young and learning so much about yourself. Your twenties are such informative years, and in some sense these kids are so grown up but in other [ways], you really get to see the kids you left at graduation at the end of Season 4.
TVGuide.com: Will we find out something about the past four years in any of the episodes?
Bush: Some are just present-day, but we have some really incredible flashback sections in other episodes that lead you through where everyone's been. It gives the audience a little bit of a puzzle.
TVGuide.com: Will it be Lost-style flashbacks, where you just get a minute or two of the past?
Bush: It really depends on the episode. Most of them are not that enormous, but there are definitely moments where we've really taken the liberty to show you what happened two years ago.
TVGuide.com: What will be the most shocking change for fans in the two-hour premiere?
Bush: Where Nathan and Haley are. It's very different, and you get to really witness the reality of a marriage and its complications rather than the puppy love of teenage years. It's very powerful. They have a baby who's now 4 years old, and it's interesting to see what the emotional issues of that commitment can be. It's also pretty incredible for me to take Brooke from being that cheer captain, happy-go-lucky girl who kept all her emotional issues underneath to this mogul in the fashion world. She [has] this life that everybody would assume is perfect, but she's still dealing with a lot of the things she dealt with in high school. It's interesting for me to build this character who still feels really lost. She's got her life together, and everybody else is having issues. There's one episode that's only one evening with everybody out at a bar. Brooke sits at the bar all night and everybody keeps coming up to her and asking advice. They're all going to her for help, but she needs help as well. No matter how together you think someone may be, it doesn't mean they don't have their own set of problems.
TVGuide.com: Does she have a new love interest?
Bush: Eventually, but it's pretty wild, I have not had to kiss anybody in 12 episodes.
TVGuide.com: Which is very unlike Brooke.
Bush: Yeah, she's keeping them waiting. But the guy playing my love interest, Joe Manganiello, is just wonderful and was a really great addition to our cast. We have the best guest stars we have ever had on our show. You'll [see] Joe as my love interest; Robbie Jones [Nathan and Haley's son], who just lights up our set, he's an amazing kid. Michaela McManus is an addition this year, she is just stellar, and Lisa Goldstein is the girl playing my assistant — I just want to hug her!
TVGuide.com: So in all the commercials we've seen, it looks like Lucas proposes to Peyton.... What can you tell me about that?
Bush: I can't give that away.
TVGuide.com: Will the whole gang find themselves all back together at some point?
Bush: It's interesting to see who comes back home, who visits home and who never left home.
TVGuide.com: Of the 12 episodes, is the last one a cliff-hanger?
Bush: The last episode we shot was our 100th episode. It was such a milestone, and it's wild to think that so few shows get there. But it was very bittersweet — we didn't stop shooting because the show is finished, we stopped shooting because of the strike. So it was just another episode, and then all of a sudden we had to go home. It was definitely not a finale in any way, shape or form.
TVGuide.com: Well, even though fans would be watching if there weren't a strike, the return certainly comes at a good time for TV viewers. Maybe you'll get some more people addicted to the Tree Hill gang.
Bush: They wanted to do it this way so we wouldn't have to keep taking all these long breaks, so it's worked out to our advantage because at least for the people who watch our show, we can put something new out there. And that's a good feeling.
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