Ben McKenzie looks back on making 'The O.C.'

The O.C.'s Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) didn't have a ton of friends (see: bar mitzvah photos). But he always had Captain Oats, the toy horse who rarely left his side. "The idea came up in a script by Jane Espenson," says O.C. creator Josh Schwartz. "I thought it was the funniest thing."

Introduced in season 1 of the hit Fox series, Oats is a Breyer model #1119 "Dusty Dun" horse. When prop master Ed Borasch Jr. found him, it was "love at first sight," recalls Schwartz. (One thing you won't find on every Breyer horse? Oats' removable saddle is sold separately.)

The O.C.
Captain Oats from 'The O.C.'

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The plastic figurine quickly became more than just a joke on the series, even landing a stable love interest when Seth discovered Summer's (Rachel Bilson) My Little Pony, Princess Sparkle. "My dad worked for Hasbro during the My Little Pony era, so when it came time for Seth to finally make it into Summer's room and realize that she had her own version of Captain Oats, Princess Sparkle, it made sense to make that a My Little Pony," says Schwartz. "And thus a great love story was born."

But in all seriousness, Oats was a character on the show in his own right. "It ended up giving us a better understanding of Seth," says Schwartz. "It's someone for him to talk to, and it became a way for him and Summer to bond and for their relationship to deepen." As for what Oats was like on set? "He always hit his mark," jokes Schwartz.

Nowadays, the one and only Captain Oats lives at Josh Schwartz's L.A. home, where his two children, ages 6 and 9, play with him. (Princess Sparkle, however, lives at Schwartz's office, not Rachel Bilson's home, he clarifies. "She has a knock off," says Schwartz. "Don't let her fool you.")

A version of this story appears in the August issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands now or available to order here. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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