Fans of the early 2000s have a special place in their hearts for actor Mischa Barton, thanks to her starring role in the hit show “The O.C.” While Barton’s career stalled a bit following her dramatic departure from the show (more on that later) in 2006, she is back in the headlines in 2021 thanks to an interview she did with E! about her decision to leave the teen drama.
Barton said she recently chose to open up about her feelings toward the show that made her a star now because of the timing. She explained, “Now that we’re living in this era where we do speak out about our experiences and women do come clean about what was really going on behind the scenes and how they were treated, it’s a slightly different thing.” She went on to reveal that there was “sort of general bullying from some of the men on set” and that she “just felt very unprotected.”
People reports that former costars Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke took to their podcast to call Barton’s claims “perplexing” but asked Barton to join them on their show so they could hear her entire perspective. It doesn’t appear that Barton remained close to her “O.C.” costars over the years, but the actor has had a major transformation from when she started her career as an actor before “The O.C.,” up to her recent gig on reality TV. Let’s take a look at the “Hills: New Beginnings” star’s transformation over the years!
Mischa Barton made her film debut at age 11 in 1997
While most of us met her as a teen queen, Mischa Barton actually started her acting career as a young child star. She appeared mostly on stage at first in several off Broadway productions. According to her IMDb, she also made TV appearances in the daytime dramas like “All My Children” and the cartoon series “KaBlam!” But the actress really got her first taste of Hollywood at age 11, when she made her film debut in 1997’s “Lawn Dogs.” The young actor received great reviews, with Empire critics writing that she delivered a “hypnotic central performance.”
Perhaps Barton’s most memorable performance as a child actor, however, was her role as a kid ghost in the 1999 psychological thriller “The Sixth Sense.” She also had an appearance in the popular romantic comedy “Notting Hill” that same year.
Barton went on to have more small roles in several independent films like “Lost and Delirious” and “Tart.” It appears she was able to find small roles as an actor up until she landed her first major role as Marissa Cooper on the teen drama “The O.C” at age 17. While Barton was quite young at the time, the show not only proved to be the actor’s breakthrough into stardom but also still seems to be her biggest role yet.
Mischa Barton shot to fame at age 17
Mischa Barton landed her most famous role of Marissa Cooper on “The O.C.” at the young age of 17. The hit Fox show premiered in 2003, making Barton and her other young costars teen superstars. Yet Barton recently revealed that despite the show’s success, she doesn’t remember that time on set too fondly. She told E! in May 2021, “It wasn’t, like, the most ideal environment for a young, sensitive girl who’s also been thrust into stardom to have to put up with.”
During her time on the teen show, Barton won several Teen Choice Awards and graced the cover of magazines like Glamour, Cosmopolitan, and Allure, often being referred to as the “It Girl.” But fame didn’t sit well with the young star. She revealed to E!, “Just dealing with like the amount of invasion I was having in my personal life, I just felt very unprotected.”
Barton decided to leave “The O.C.” in 2006 before the series ended, which led to her character being dramatically killed off. Barton said that she appreciated that she had a choice about how she wanted to go out, adding that she “really love[s] that she had this epic death and that it ended like that because it’s memorable.” While her character’s death happened over a decade ago, fans do still remember. Barton recalled, “People still come up to me to this day and they’re like, ‘I remember where I was when your character died!’ And they’re still emotional about it.”
Mischa Barton became tabloid fodder in 2007
Following her departure from “The O.C.,” things didn’t calm down for actor Mischa Barton, despite her best efforts, which included moving back to her native England for a bit. She explained (via E!), “I just felt like I was in a machine and I couldn’t really get off. So it was time to step back. So I went back to England and it was just a year of real self-exploration.”
Yet, following her turn to Hollywood, it wasn’t long until Barton was back in the headlines again after she “fell ill” at socialite Nicole Richie’s Memorial Day party in 2007 when she mixed too many cocktails with antibiotics and had to be hospitalized. While her representative was able to do damage control for that particular incident, things got much worse for the young star later that year when she was arrested on DUI charges. Barton told Nylon (via E!), “That was a low point for me. I never, ever would have thought I would be arrested.” She added, “I was disappointed because it associated me with a group of girls that I would rather not be associated with,” assumedly referring to early 2000s bad girls Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton.
Unfortunately, things didn’t get easier for Barton for a while, and only two years later, in 2009, the actor checked into a psych ward allegedly for suicidal actions. She later told People, “It was a full-on breakdown. I was under enormous pressure.”
Mischa Barton returned to TV at age 30 on Dancing With the Stars
After releasing her own fashion line and making some appearances in music videos, Mischa Barton decided to return to primetime TV in a surprising way in 2016. At age 30, the actor competed on the popular dancing competition “Dancing With the Stars.” Like we later learned about her “O.C.” days, though, there was some tension on set, particularly between her and her dance partner, Artem Chigvintsev. She later told The Ringer, “Ugh, I had no idea it would be so bad. I got told off by my dancer.” She added, “It was like ‘The Hunger Games.’ It was all a popularity contest. It was awful. I was so glad to get kicked off.” Barton was voted off after only three episodes.
It wasn’t just her co-star that Barton had a problem with during this time, but also her own mother. A year before she appeared on “DWTS,” E! reports that Barton sued her mother and manager, Nuala, for breach of oral contract and fraudulent misrepresentation. The actor alleged her mother lied about the money she was making on a 2013 film and took the difference for herself.
It seems that between her “DWTS” failure and family drama, Barton couldn’t catch a break. Things didn’t get much better in 2017 when Barton was hospitalized again, this time for behaving erratically. She later explained to People that she had been drugged with the date rape drug GHB while out celebrating her birthday.
Mischa Barton took on reality TV in "The Hills: New Beginnings" in 2019
Apparently aware that she was a tabloid darling in the early 2000s, Mischa Barton decided to join the cast of MTV’s “The Hill: New Beginnings.” While it seemed odd for the TV star to join the reality TV show’s reboot, it made sense for those who followed Hollywood in-crowds circa 2007. Yet, Barton told People, “It was a little nerve-racking [to join the cast]. I didn’t know their history. And I think a lot of them thought I was going to be a total b****!”
Barton went on to explain why she wanted to do the reality show instead her usual scripted work, saying, “I just want people to be able to identify with me. But I’m also a very in your face person. I don’t have trouble with confrontation!” Unfortunately, fans of the show and the rest of the cast didn’t seem to take to Barton and she was not asked to return for season two of “The Hills: New Beginnings.” The show’s star Brody Jenner seemingly agreed with the decision, telling the Daily News, “No offense to Mischa, but we don’t really miss Mischa.” He added, “Bringing Mischa on to begin with was just, it was sort of awkward.”
It’s clear the Barton did have some trouble working with others over the years, but she always managed to keep things interesting. We can’t wait to see what next few years bring for “The O.C.” alum.
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