Mischa Barton claims ‘bullying’ on The OC set led to her exit

Star’s explosive departure from show took place in 2006

Ellie Harrison
Wednesday 19 May 2021 07:53
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Mischa Barton laments being on the OC

Mischa Barton has opened up about her exit from The OC, claiming that she left because of bullying behind the scenes.

The actor played Marissa Cooper in the teen drama from 2003 to 2006. The show, which ran until 2007, followed a group of young people and their families in the wealthy, upper-class neighbourhood of Newport Beach, Orange County, California.

In a new interview with E! News, Barton said: “There were people on that set that were very mean to me. 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.”

The 35-year-old recalled that working on the show became more difficult in season two.

Calling the situation “complicated”, she said that her decision to leave “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****y”.

She added: “But, you know, I also loved the show and had to build up my own walls and ways of getting around dealing with that and the fame that was thrust specifically at me. Just dealing with like the amount of invasion I was having in my personal life, I just felt very unprotected, I guess is the best way to put it.”

The Independent has contacted Warner Bros for comment.

Ben McKenzie and Mischa Barton

In 2017, Schwartz told The Daily Beast: “Mischa didn’t want off the show anymore than any of the other kids wanted off the show. It was a complicated chemistry with the cast… But she certainly wasn’t actively seeking to leave the show.”

Barton’s departure devastated fans at the time, with Marissa’s on-and-off boyfriend Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) carrying her lifeless body away from a car crash, to the soundtrack of “Hallelujah” by Jeff Buckley.

“They made me feel like the show is going to go on with or without you and it is what it is,” Barton said. “So I was just, like, OK, cool, then let’s go out with a bang.”

The OC’s Peter Gallagher, an older cast member, recently said he had “discussions” with the young cast “about how one should behave”.

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And in 2013, Tate Donovan, who played Marissa’s father Jimmy Cooper, told Vulture: “By [season three], the kids had developed a really bad attitude. They just didn’t want to be doing the show anymore. It was pretty tough; they were very tough to work with.”

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