Mischa Barton Felt ‘Unprotected’ And Faced ‘Bullying’ From Men On ‘The O.C.’ Set Before Her Shocking Exit

Some people watched The O.C. for Sandy Cohen’s fatherly advice and glorious eyebrows (me), others watched it for the wildly entertaining teen drama (everyone else). And much of that drama came from Marissa Cooper, the prototypical Southern California rich girl played by Mischa Barton. Marissa was one of the show’s core four characters, along with Ryan (Ben McKenzie), Seth (Adam Brody), and Summer (Rachel Bilson), until — mmm, whatcha say? I say SPOILER ALERT — the season three finale when she was killed off. That episode aired 15 years ago today on Fox, and in honor of its anniversary, Barton discussed what led to her exit.

“It’s a bit complicated. It started pretty early on because 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 sh*tty,” Barton told E! Online. She still loved the show and the character, however, so she built “up my own walls and ways of getting around dealing with that and the fame that was thrust specifically at me… I just felt very unprotected.”

Looking back now, Barton feels things started to fall apart during season two, “when we started doubling up on episodes and shooting [became] so much harder… I look back on it pretty fondly, but there’s stuff I think people did wrong and the way they handled it.” Barton didn’t “feel I could keep going,” so she was given an option:

“The producers were like, ‘Well, do you want your job and to sail off into the sunset and potentially you can come back in the future in some bizarre TV scenario or we can kill your character off and you can go on with your career that you want and what you want to do?’ I was getting offers from big films at the time and having to turn them down. I had always been supporting in The Sixth Sense and any of those things. My dream was to be offered those lead roles, so that’s what happened. It just felt like it was the best thing for me and my health and just in terms of not really feeling protected by my cast and crew at that point.

Barton did not have the easiest time while on The O.C., but she’s happy that Marissa was given “this epic death and that it ended like that because it’s memorable and it’s not just another flash in the pan.” You can read the rest of the interview here.

(Via E! Online)