The OC creator reveals which actors were almost cast as Marissa and Ryan

Wonder Woman star originally went up for the part of troubled ‘bad-boy’ Ryan

Annabel Nugent@annabelnugent
Wednesday 05 May 2021 09:31
Mischa Barton laments being on the OC

The OC creator Josh Schwartz has revealed which two actors were originally cast as Ryan and Marissa.

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

Marissa and Ryan’s romance formed a dominant storyline in the series, with Mischa Barton and Benjamin McKenzie becoming instantly recognisable for their roles as the troubled teens.

Appearing on an episode of the recently launched podcast Welcome to The OC, B***es! (hosted by former co-stars Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke), Schwartz spoke about the casting process for the two characters.

He said that McKenzie, who was 23 when he was cast in the hit series, was “different than what we imagined” for the role, stating that Garrett Hedlund (Tron: Legacy)  and DJ Cotrona (GI Joe: Retaliation) were originally up for the part.

“I remember walking up to the casting office and Ben was just outside, I believe he was smoking,” said Schwarz. “He gave us not a big warm hello. I was like, this guy’s really interesting. It’s a different way than we envisioned it. He was so good and felt so soulful.”

He also divulged that Adam Brody (who was eventually cast as Seth Cohen) originally “wanted to read for Ryan”.

The OC stars

Schwarz went on to reveal that Marissa’s role (which Barton was cast for aged 17) almost went to Olivia Wilde.

“Olivia had just moved out to LA, it was one of her first auditions and was super compelling,” he said. Schwarz went on to note that Barton’s younger age “had a bit more of that tragic air to her”.

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Wilde – who made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed 2019 comedy Booksmart – later appeared in The OC’s second season as Marissa’s love interest, Alex. 

Speaking on the podcast, Bilson shared that she had also initially wanted to audition for Marissa’s character before being cast as Summer.

Similarly, Clarke (who played Marissa’s mother, Julie) had originally read for the part of Kristen (Seth’s mother), which eventually went to Kelly Rowan.

Welcome to The OC, B***es! will continue to feature guest stars as Bilson and Clarke recap every episode of the iconic noughties show.

The show’s casting director Patrick Rush previously recalled that Chris Pine had auditioned for the part, but was turned down because he had “bad skin”.

“We saw Chris Pine, he was really really really good but – this is painful. At the time Chris Pine’s skin was really really bad and that broke my heart because I was a kid with acne. I remember thinking he was so good,” recalled Rush.

An earlier version of this article incorrectly attributed Patrick Rush’s quote regarding Chris Pine to Josh Schwartz.

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