Rachel Bilson and Melinda Clarke react to Mischa Barton comments about her time on The O.C.
They called some remarks "perplexing," but also looked back from a 2021 perspective.
On the latest installment of their podcast Welcome to the OC, Bitches!, the actresses discussed Barton's latest interview with E! News, in which the star said there were some folks who "were very mean" to her on the set of the teen drama and noted that she felt some relief following her character Marissa Cooper's death scene. (Bilson and Clarke's discussion came in a preview for an upcoming conversation with fellow podcaster Danny Pellegrino.)
Clarke, who played Marissa's mother, Julie Cooper, expressed an understanding of how pressure impacted her younger costars. (Barton was 17 when she began playing Marissa.)
"The one thing going into this podcast — and Rachel and I discussed this — I can tell you about my experience with total honesty, and transparency, and cannot speak for somebody else's experience. And, we have touched on this, Rachel, but someone who's 16, 17, 18 — that amount of hours of work, pressure, at such a young age — at best you're exhausted, and at worst, it's overwhelming and chaotic," Clarke said. "So it kind of breaks my heart a little to know that — we knew there's a lot of pressure on her, but if it was really that bad of an experience, that's not right for any young person."
But Clarke noted that some of Barton's comments confused her. "Some of the comments were very perplexing to me," she said, "so I don't know, I don't know what the truth is about that, but I do know that yes, this was an enormous amount of pressure — for everybody."
Bilson quickly chimed in, addressing Barton's remarks about her — that she was made a series regular later on.
"The one thing that I can say is like, in one of her first comments she says that I was added last-minute after the first season, which is actually completely false and not what happened," she said. "So it starting out that way, I was like, 'Well, that's misinformation. Where are we going with this? And what is she trying to say?' Which I would actually like to talk to her and find out what her experience was from her perspective because I saw things a little differently."
Clarke also approached Barton's comments from a 2021 perspective, looking back at the aughts.
"We all do know that… in the early 2000s, the scrutiny of the young ladies going out, and the Nicole Richies, and the Parises, and the Lindsays, and the Mischas — there was a lot of attention," she said. "And just by being out there, somehow it got turned against them."
She went on to offer Barton the opportunity to come on their O.C. podcast and address more of how she felt at the time. "I think it's something that we're all becoming aware of, and it's important for us to learn," Clarke said.
"Hollywood is notorious for doing 18-, 20-hour days and… it's not for the faint of heart, let's put it that way" she added. "But being that young, I do think it can be an additional stress."
When Pellegrino brought up Barton's comments about experiencing meanness from some of the men on set, Bilson said she didn't see that type of behavior.
"I don't know who she's referring to, because I didn't personally witness any of that," she said.
Bilson added that she thought Barton's interview had "mixed messages. "As their chat on the subject wrapped up, Clarke again expressed sympathy over the kind of pressures undoubtedly thrust upon Barton at the time, including paparazzi attention and having to turn down big-screen offers due to TV commitments (something Tate Donovan talked about on another of the O.C. podcasts). "What do you do with all of that?" she asked.