Can you believe it’s been 10 whole years since the teen cult classic The O.C. has been on the air? One full decade has passed since we last saw Ryan, Marissa, Seth, Summer, and their friends and family doing their thing in Orange County (makes you feel kind of old, huh?). The show ran for four seasons from 2003-2007, and now that we find ourselves in 2017, we kind of miss all those rich, drama queen goofballs. At least, I do.
So to take a walk down memory lane for a minute, let’s look at the cast back then and now. Of course, 10 years has, without a doubt, changed the women of The O.C., both physically and otherwise. Today, we’ll focus only on the physical, however. And you’re in for a treat, because these ladies, who were known for being the fairest of them all, so to speak, have only gotten hotter in the decade since The O.C. last aired. Even the older crowd of Newport Beach — Kirsten and Julie, for example — have managed to just keep getting more and more attractive the older they got.
I present to you 15 ladies of The O.C. then and now, in photos placed side by side so you can see what I mean regarding their increased hotness. Some of the women were main characters in the show, and some had smaller parts, although you’ll remember them all because they all had their role to play in the story the show told.
15. Hailey Nichol/Amanda Righetti
There’s not a person on Earth who would call Amanda Righetti’s character of Hailey Nichol unattractive, but I think we can all agree that the more mature version of Amanda, on the right, is preferable. Hailey was somewhat of a black sheep in the Nichol family and was the younger sister of Cohen matriarch Kirsten. She was also the older half-sister to Lindsey Gardner, played by Shannon Lucio (see number six on this list). Interestingly, Hailey was 11 years older than Ben Mckenzie and Adam Brody’s characters in the show, but in real life, she’s several years younger than them. Her age now is 34, and since The O.C., her biggest roles have been on the television shows The Mentalist and Colony.
14. Jess Sathers/Nikki Griffin
Nikki Griffin has just the right look (then and now) to play a pretty, blonde party girl, which is exactly what she did. In seasons two and three of The O.C., Nikki played the promiscuous, drug-addicted Jess Sathers. Luckily, Nikki Griffin is far from being anything like her character in real life; the only thing the two share is the Barbie doll look. She’s known for movies like The Dukes of Hazzard and The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift but has been missing from Hollywood since 2013, when she played Katie in the short film The Gamer. Maybe she found a different calling; after all, this girl loves to play poker, is trained in special effects makeup, lived in Germany for six years, and has said her career ambition is to do a vampire film. She could be doing anything right about now! But the point is that she’s hotter doing whatever it is she’s doing now than when she was playing Jess Sathers more than 10 years ago.
13. Summer Roberts/Rachel Bilson
The quirky Summer Roberts was always my favorite character on The O.C., and she was played by Rachel Bilson. In fact, Summer was only supposed to be a small supporting character, but Josh Schwartz said, “She was adorable and funny and smart, which was a really fresh way to go with that character. And the more we gave her to do in the first couple of episodes, the more she kept nailing. Finally, in the episode with the Tijuana road trip, we watched a scene between her and Seth in the diner and knew: This girl is amazing. Let’s make her a series regular.” And thank goodness they did! Can you imagine The O.C. without Summer? Rachel Bilson, since her time on The O.C., has known success in her own right, from movies like Jumper and The Last Kiss to shows like How I Met Your Mother and Hart of Dixie, in which she played the lead role.
12. Taylor Townsend/Autumn Reeser
Perpetually perky overachiever Taylor Townsend showed up during The O.C.’s third season and was played by Autumn Reeser. Like Amanda Righetti, Autumn also looks much hotter having aged 10 years. Taylor was not so likable at first, but by the fourth and final season, she was a fan favorite. Yahoo! TV’s Michael Yarish described the character as a “smart, French-speaking valedictorian who became a fan favorite with her sheer exuberance.” And Autumn did an awesome job portraying her. Now 36 (but definitely not looking even close to it), Autumn has had smaller roles in numerous television shows like Hawaii Five-0, Last Resort, and The Arrangement. In 2017, she’ll appear in four feature films.
11. Alex Kelly/Olivia Wilde
Olivia Wilde is arguably the actress from The O.C. who has known the most success. The O.C. was one of her very first roles, and since then, she’s been in countless movies and television shows. She had a leading role on House from 2007-2012, and has starred in several blockbusters such as TRON: Legacy, TRON: Uprising, The Lazarus Effect, Love the Coopers, and many more. Unlike most of her The O.C. co-stars, Olivia’s fame has skyrocketed since it ended. Josh Schwartz, creator of The O.C., described Olivia’s character of Alex as “the bad girl who runs the Bait Shop, which is the new club the kids are going to be hanging out at where all these bands will be performing at.” Alex is also bisexual and dates both Seth and Marissa in season two.
10. Anna Stern/Samaire Armstrong
Samaire Armstrong is a very obvious case of getting hotter with age. While she retains that sweet, blue-eyed, blonde-haired cuteness at her current age of 36, mature Samaire is much more preferable to immature Samaire. I think the above photos illustrates perfectly what I’m talking about. Luckily for her, she has one of those baby faces that will make her look young far longer than most people will. In her mid-thirties now, she could still pass for mid-twenties, if you ask me. On The O.C., Samaire played Pittsburgh-transfer Anna Stern, who had a relationship with Seth throughout the first season. She wound up moving back East but made a two-episode appearance again in season three. Since The O.C., Samaire has had plenty of work in both the film and television industries.
9. Marissa Cooper/Mischa Barton
Marissa Cooper was the troubled girl-next-door in The O.C., a privileged socialite who struggled with substance abuse and risky behavior. She was one of the main characters of the show until season three when she was killed in a car accident. Show creator Josh Schwartz says of the decision to kill her off, “It had as much to do with creatively feeling like this was always in the cards for this character and she was an inherently tragic heroine, and part of the Ryan/Marissa story was him trying to save her from a fate that she couldn’t be rescued from.” Mischa Barton, who played Marissa, said, “My character has been through so, so much, and there’s really nothing more left for her to do… I was really excited that I get to die, to be honest… It was better than one of those lame farewells.” Now 31, Barton has experienced similar troubles to her character since The O.C., although not as extreme. A little older now, she looks much hotter than she did back then, despite said troubles.
8. Kaitlin Cooper/Willa Holland
Nowadays, people probably recognize Willa Holland as Thea Queen from The Flash and Arrow, or Agnes Andrews from Gossip Girl before they remember that prior to any of that, she was Marissa Cooper’s little sister Kaitlin on The O.C. Willa just turned 26, and she looks pretty much the same as she did at 16, except that now, she has womanly curves and has grown into a beautiful young adult. She played a scrawny, bratty teenager on The O.C., but now, she primarily plays Thea Queen/Speedy on the CW superhero shows. But The O.C. was where she really started acting, and of playing Kaitlin, she says, “I enjoyed The O.C. immensely, but I want to expand my horizons more before repeating myself.”
7. Kaitlin Cooper/Shailene Woodley
Shailene Woodley is pretty hot in Hollywood right now since starring in the Divergent movies as protagonist Tris Prior. Before that, she was the lead in the five-season-long The Secret Life of the American Teenager. And there’s one major reason she’s way hotter today than she was 10 years ago, and that’s because of her age. Preceding Willa Holland in the role of Kaitlin Cooper, Shailene was only 12 or 13 when she was on The O.C. Obviously, 10 years later she’s much better (and more legal) to look at. Since The O.C., Shailene has gained serious stardom from playing the leading roles in films like The Descendants, The Fault in Our Stars, Snowden, and, of course, Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant.
6. Sadie Campbell/Nikki Reed
Sadie Campbell, played by Nikki Reed, is just one of Ryan Atwood’s many love interests throughout The O.C. Sadie is a jeweler, and she can be seen in season three but leaves at the end of it to pursue her jewelry-making business outside of Newport. Nikki is most well known for playing the beautiful vampire Rosalie in the Twilight Saga films but has also been in several other major productions, such as Sleepy Hollow, In Your Eyes, Chain Letter, Cherry Crush, Lords of Dogtown, and Thirteen, which she co-wrote and starred in at the age of 15. It was based on her own experiences as a young teen. She says of her movie, “I had hoped that girls all over the world would relate to Thirteen. But had no idea that girls I was sitting next to went through the same things I did.”
5. Lindsay Gardner/Shannon Lucio
True Blood alum Shannon Lucio is also The O.C. alum Lindsey Gardner, although these two roles were about as opposite as they could get. Shannon went from playing the illegitimate daughter of one of the wealthiest men in Newport, who is made fun of and drives a beat-up car, to playing the ex-confederate soldier-turned-vampire wife in True Blood. That’s quite the leap! But if anything, it shows how versatile an actress Shannon Lucio can be. Now 37, Shannon still has the face of a twenty-something and has been in a ton of other shows, like Prison Break, American Horror Story, The Gates, Grey’s Anatomy, and many more. She also worked alongside major stars like Julia Roberts and Ryan Reynolds in Fireflies in the Garden and Morgan Freeman and Greg Kinnear in Feast of Love.
4. Theresa Diaz/Navi Rawat
Remember Theresa Diaz from The O.C.? She was only in 13 episodes, but they spanned the first three seasons. And as Ryan’s childhood friend and baby mama, she’s a pretty important part of the storyline, regardless of how few episodes she was in. Theresa was portrayed by actress Navi Rawat, who’s also known for playing Amita Ramanujan for six seasons on Numbers. She was gorgeous on The O.C. when she played Theresa (who is Hispanic, although, in real life, Navi was born to an Indian father and a German mother), and she’s even more gorgeous now, 10 years after the fact. However, Navi has been absent from the Hollywood scene for a while as her last project was the 2014 short film The Lachrymist.
3. Charlotte Morgan/Jeri Ryan
Well-known Hollywood actress Jeri Ryan played con-artist Charlotte Morgan on The O.C. Her character had a seven-episode arc in 2005. Charlotte entered the world of Newport Beach pretending to be a recovering alcoholic but really had a plan to steal money through hosting fundraisers. When her plan failed, she left Newport, and that was the end of that. I must say, while beautiful, the German-born Jeri Ryan does have one of those faces capable of looking sinister at the same time. Although her storyline was overall random and unnecessary to The O.C., she was a good choice for the part. And just like Jennifer Aniston or Angelina Jolie, she’s aging quite gracefully, so much so that you can’t even tell that 10 years have gone by! Currently, Jeri plays Veronica Allen on the crime drama Bosch.
2. Julie Cooper/Melinda Clarke
Gorgeous ginger Melinda Clarke played businesswoman and socialite Julie Cooper on The O.C. Of course, she was also Marissa and Kaitlin’s mother. Since she had Marissa at just 18 years old, it makes sense that in the show, she looks so young and sexy. In fact, even 10 years later, the sexiness has not faded, not with that hair and that sultry grin she likes to flaunt in every photo. Melinda is an accomplished actress outside of The O.C., as well. She’s known for her large roles in countless productions — The Vampire Diaries, Nikita, Entourage, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Days of Our Lives to name a few.
1. Kirsten Cohen/Kelly Rowan
Kelly Rowan will always be a classic blonde beauty, and although she’s 51 years young, she still looks stunning. I would even argue that she’s aged so gracefully that she looks just as good as, if not better, than she did in her four years playing Seth’s mom and the adoptive mother to The O.C.’s brooding protagonist, Ryan. She was also the wife of Sandy, daughter of Caleb, sister of Hailey, and friend of Julie, so she was pretty central to the show. Since playing Kirsten on The O.C., which is probably her most famous role, Kelly has had several roles on several shows, but none as big. It seems as though she shares a similar fate in that respect with several of her fellow cast members. Her most recent project was a 2016 television movie called Tulips in Spring.
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