Sophia Bush goes Gaga for 'One Tree Hill,' remains dedicated to the Gulf

one-tree-hill-sophia-722.jpg "One Tree Hill's" Sophia Bush is training to run a half marathon -- and it hasn't been easy. "I've got the most god-awful, painful shin splints," she tells us. "They got bad enough that I realized this means no running... and no walking, either."

Bush - who still struggles with an old knee injury, not to mention asthma - was never an avid runner, but she set the half-marathon goal for herself in order to raise funds for Global Green's effort to rebuild the gulf coast after the oil spill.

Her fellow CW star, "Supernatural's" Misha Collins, has proven the formula successful; this week he ran 52 miles (83 km) in one day and raised over $67,000 dollars for orphanages in Haiti and victims of the Pakistan flooding. That number is still climbing as pledgers pony up their promised donations.

Bush will run in November, but she and boyfriend/co-star Austin Nichols have raised over $11,800 - so it looks like those painful legs are already paying off.

Luckily, she doesn't have to go it alone. "One of the girls on the running team has been putting me through very painful shin splints stretches," Bush says. "I've resisted the urge to kick her in the face." She's also got an army of over 90,000 Twitter followers behind her. "I've got all these people tweeting information on how to make them feel better and how to prevent them in the future," she says.

Sophia never thought she'd be a presence on any kind of social networking site. "The idea of actively giving people access to me and my personal life literally repulsed me," she says. "Now, my one regret is that we didn't start on Twitter years ago. I wish I had a bigger reach, because I know the bigger the reach the better the fund raising."

We spoke with Sophia and Nichols after their trip to Grand Isle in June, when Sophia told us she was "enraged" about the Gulf oil disaster. She hasn't calmed down any. "People think that it's stopped and they think that everything is okay, but things are steadily getting worse," she says. "We're only just starting to realize the ramifications of the abysmal way that the situation was handled."

She explains that the correctant and dispersants being released into the water are actually exacerbating the oil problem, not solving it. "We're just getting information abut how toxic the dispersant is," she says. "B.P. has been very clever in breaking up the oil particles so we're not seeing anymore giant plumes or slicks, and people think things are getting better. Instead, the particles are now so small they're being ingested by our sea life and contaminating everything, killing everything."

Bush encourages her fans and Twitter followers to use their "little voices" whenever possible, and she intends to keep using hers until her message is heard. "The most important piece of information for me to let other people know is that this is a situation that is still causing total devastation. It's not a finite issue. It's not like there was oil and now there isn't."

"I'm very nervous that most people who aren't following this closely think that it's over," she says. "We're still seeing disruptive activity. We're just starting the long road ahead to getting better."

Beside Sophia on that road are some high-profile companions. "I was shooting some specials for this season of 'One Tree Hill' up in Asheville," she says, "And I was in my hotel room on the phone with Ian Somerhalder and Deepak Chopra talking about the changes that still need to be made. It was beyond. Deepak is someone I've admired my whole life, and now we're sitting on the phone and emailing each other and I can't believe it's happening."

As for Somerhalder, Bush practically gushes about him. "Ian is absolutely incredible," she says. "When you connect so seriously on something that is absolutely inherent in your heart, that you're passionate about, you become family. It's like when you meet a friend and immediately, they're just in your soul." She feels the same way about everyone who has raised their voices in support of the victims of the oil spill.

Keep in mind that one way to support Louisiana residents is to contribute to the tourism in the area. "People should absolutely still visit," Sophia says, having loved the area since she was a child. "The amazing restaurants in New Orleans are no less amazing just because they're not serving gulf catch. The town is no less wonderful, the music no less lively. It's absolutely worth it to make those plans and go there now -- but we shouldn't be lying to people about the situation. The fishermen I worked with still aren't comfortable feeding people the catch right now."

So what can we do? "Even though it's scary and frustrating, don't get discouraged," she urges. "Keep paying attention. Keep reading. Keep listening. Keep active. Keep writing. The one thing that we have is our voice."

We can't help but boggle at Bush's dedication. But how does she find the time to raise money, tweet, train for her run, chat with Deepak Chopra, and -- oh yeah -- star in a television show? "It's not easy," she laughs. "These last weeks have been really tough. I'm a bit behind on my fund raising because I'm prepping my episode."

Bush started directing the sixth episode of "One Tree Hill's" 8th season on Thursday, Sept. 2.  "I have the most difficult episode of the year thus far," she says. "It's pretty crazy. Our producers were like, 'Wow, you got this episode? Yikes.' Luckily, I'm OCD, so it'll happen."

For any of Sophia's "little voices" who also consider themselves "little monsters," the episode will be especially awesome. "I've got my own little moment that I inserted," she teases. "It's an homage to Lady Gaga, because she's a bad, bad, b**** and I love her."

On screen, Bush's character Brooke is happily engaged. "She's very happy, but don't think there won't be drama," she says. "There will always, always be drama."

Here's what we do know: the drama won't come in the form of Julian (Nichols) leaving Brooke. "He's not going anywhere," says executive producer Mark Schwahn. "The wedding is happening." Alex ( Jana Kramer) won't be coming between Brooke and Julian again. 

"This is a guy with a good heart," Bush says. "Alex was incredibly inappropriate with him last season, and he's not going to leave anybody who is in trouble stranded, but he's also never going to cheat on his woman. He will wait and wait and wait and tell her over and over again until she gets it."

Bush speaks of Brooke as if she's an old friend, which seems appropriate, given that she's in her eighth year playing the character. Her passion for her job never distracts her from her other missions, though.

"I have some free time tomorrow," she says. "So that's when I'll make about 80 phone calls for fund raising stuff. We've got a lot on the horizon - in addition to contests, we've got giveaways, and we've just collaborated with Gold's Gym on an amazing project to benefit the Gulf. We've had incredible support since we started making our voices heard. It's the one thing we have, as Americans -- they're not allowed to make us be quiet, and that's a very valuable tool."

To support Sophia and Austin on their Run for the Gulf, you can contribute via Crowdrise. If you donate $50 or more to Sophia's Crowdrise page, she'll send you an autographed 8x10 photo. If you donate $50 or more to Austin's Crowdrise, he'll do the same.

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Photo credit: CW