Mischa Barton Has Finally Revealed Why She Left The O.C. and It’s Not Why You Think

Warner Bros. Television

When Marissa Cooper died in Ryan Atwood’s arms in the season three finale of The O.C., we were left with so many burning (please excuse the unfortunate choice of words seeing as she died in a fiery crash) questions.

Could the show survive without our favourite girl troubled “it” girl (not really)? Could Ryan ever find love again (sort of, but we never really shipped “Raylor” that much) and, most importantly — why did Mischa Barton leave the series to begin with?

Speaking to E! News 15 years after her departure from the iconic teen drama, Barton revealed that, ultimately, the bullying she experienced on the series was behind her decision to split.

“There were people on that set that were very mean to me,” said Barton. “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 actress explained that things got progressively harder as production moved into its second season.

“It’s a bit complicated. It started pretty early on because it had a lot to do with them adding Rachel [Bilson, who played Summer Roberts] in last minute as, after the first season, a series regular and evening out everybody’s pay – sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really shitty.”

She then 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.” 

Barton’s former co-stars Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke recently launched an O.C. re-watch podcast — Welcome to the O.C., Bitches! — in which the pair revisit the series and give insider information about what filming the show was like.

Ahead of the podcast’s launch, the pair revealed how they had reacted to finding out that Marissa was going to die with Clarke, who played Mischa’s onscreen mother Julie Cooper, saying she was shocked and Bilson confessing that “it was like a member of our family dying.”

“We’ve talked about all the scenes we had after the fact, and how emotional it really was, because it was pretty surreal.”

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