“I saw things a little differently, I guess,” says Bilson.
Mischa Barton recently shared her truth of “what was really going on behind the scenes” of “The O.C.” on the 15th anniversary of her getting killed off the show — and her account doesn’t exactly line up with that of her costars.
Speaking with E! in May, Barton was asked when conversations about Marissa Cooper getting written off started — with Mischa dropping Rachel Bilson’s name in her explanation. On the latest episode of their “Welcome to The O.C., Bitches” podcast, both Bilson and costar Melinda Clarke weighed in on her comments.
Mischa Barton Says She Was Bullied On The OC Set: People 'Were Very Mean To Me'
“It had a lot to do with them adding Rachel [Bilson] in last minute as, after the first season, a series regular and evening out everybody’s pay—and sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really s—ty,” Barton told E!. While she looked back at her time on the show “pretty fondly,” she also said “there’s stuff I think people did wrong” and claimed some people on set were “very mean” to her.
With movie offers coming in and a general sense of “not really feeling protected by my cast and crew,” she also said leaving the show was “the best thing for me and my health” at the time.
Podcaster Danny Pellegrino brought up the Barton interview during his appearance on Bilson and Clarke’s show. While his full episode won’t drop until later in the season, Bilson explained they released this segment early “in hopes Mischa would hear us talk about it and would be willing to come join us on the show so we could hear her entire perspective and what she is saying that she experienced.”
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Pellegrino explained Barton referred to people being mean on set and asked whether her two costars “understood what she was trying to say in terms of why she left the show.”
“Melinda and I were talking immediately after it came out, like, ‘What?'” said BIlson.
“The one thing going into this podcast — and Rachel and I discussed this — I can tell you about my experience with total honestly and transparency, I cannot speak for somebody else’s experience,” said Clarke. “We have touched on this, that someone who’s 16, 17, 18, that amount of hours of work, pressure, at such a young age, at best you’re exhausted and at worst, it’s overwhelming and chaotic.”
“It kind of breaks my heart a little to know — we knew there was a lot of pressure on her — but if it was really that bad of an experience, that’s not right for any young person,” she continued. “But some of the comments were very perplexing to me, so I don’t know what the truth is about that. I do know that, yes, this was an enormous amount of pressure.”
Bilson then referred to Barton name-dropping her.
“In one of her first comments she said that I was added last minute after the first season, which is actually completely false and not what happened,” said Rachel. “So it’s starting out that way, I was like, ‘Well, that’s misinformation. Where is she going with this and what is she trying to say?'”
“I would actually like to talk to her and find out what her experience was from her perspective,” she continued. “I saw things a little differently, I guess.”
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Clarke explained that both her and Rachel’s characters — Julie Cooper and Summer Roberts, respectively — were originally going to be series regulars, “but the powers that be” changed their minds and had them as guest stars for the first 11 episodes of the first season. They became series regulars in the back 9 episodes.
“So that was a little perplexing,” said Clarke. “We all do know that now, in the early 2000s, the scrutiny of the young ladies going out and the Nicole Richies and the Parises and Lindsays and Mischas, there was a lot of attention and just by being out there somehow it got turned against them and we’re finding out it may have been quite a toxic environment. Rachel and I both think it’s important, if she wants to come and talk to us and share her story, we would love to explore that. I think it’s something we’re all becoming aware of and it’s important for us to learn in our culture what can be very damaging to young people.”
“Hollywood is notorious for doing 18-20 hour days and it’s not for the faint of heart,” she added. “But being that young, I do think it can be an additional stress.”
Pellegrino then asked about Mischa specifically saying she was bullied by some of the men on set, saying that it felt like she was “alluding to cast members.”
“I’m definitely pretty confused by most of it and I don’t know who she’s referring to,” Bilson answered. “I didn’t personally witness any of that, so I don’t know who she’s referring to or what, because I didn’t see it myself.”
“I did not either. Like I said, everyone has their own experience and it, to me, I couldn’t wait to get to work,” added Clarke. “It was like going to musical theater camp, I just loved being there.”
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Bilson said the whole interview sent “kind of mixed messages” about Barton’s experience on set. Clarke then sympathized a bit with Mischa, saying she couldn’t comprehend what she was going through at the time.
“But when you literally, a human being, is the star of a show and you are working incredibly long hours and you’re the ‘It Girl’ and everybody wants a piece of you and the paparazzi wants you and you have agents and managers telling you, ‘You’re getting offered all of these movies and because you’re on this show you can’t take these offers,’ what do you do with all of that?” she asked. “How do you process all of that without feeling like you don’t have freedom to do what you want and maybe this show is a grind.”
Not wanting to speculate or disparage Barton, she added, “We can only imagine that it was pretty overwhelming and how to navigate these waters at that age.”
Listen to the full episode below:
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