When The O.C. first appeared in the summer of 2003 on the Fox channel, no one watched it. Fox did something daring, though; it replayed the pilot again and again. Six episodes later, the O.C. became the pop culture phenomena of the decade, and to this day, it still remains the most indelible teen soap operas, thanks in combination to its quick pacing, its many storylines, its social commentary and of course its humor. It was the hottest new series for Fox, and made stars of its core four: Adam Brody, Mischa Barton, Ben McKenzie and Rachel Bilson.
The O.C. started as a fish-out-of-water show with Mckenzie as a kid from the wrong side of the tracks who suddenly gets immersed in the wealth of the Cohens and Coopers. Bilson was played for laughs, Mischa was the beautiful girl next door (literally), and Brody introduced to the world geek culture and DCFC. The one thing the show nailed was having the characters undergo major changes in a short period of time, just like in real life.
Luke, for example, despised Ryan in Season 1, but during the mid-point of the season, they become friends. Summer was the ditz whose main line was "Ewww," but she eventually got accepted to Brown. Julie Cooper was a rich socialite but divorced Jimmy after he lost all their money, and later, with no man in her life, she became so poor that she ended up in a trailer park.
But one of the most vital things that the show accomplished was using its undeniably attractive roster of teenagers and making them the most relatable high school students ever on TV. It's been 15 years since The O.C. dominated the cultural zeitgeist, and since we love the show so much, we've given you 25 things about the cast of The O.C. that fans like you should know. Here we go!
24 The One Where Ben McKenzie Successfully Eluded Becoming Typecast
Ben McKenzie played Ryan Atwood. He was the troubled teen, the brooding bad boy who lived on the wrong side of the tracks in Chimo before being adopted by Sandy and Kirsten Cohen. McKenzie was a successful actor, as he transitioned from The O.C. to two TV hits that were the farthest thing from playing a teenager. He starred in the critically-acclaimed Southland, which premiered in 2009 and lasted five seasons. In 2014, he landed the role of James Gordon, a young detective in Gotham City in the Batman prequel, Gotham. The show is still on.
23 The One Where wild child Summer Roberts Ends Up At Brown
Besides all the good-looking actors and the parties in each episode where someone gets punched, The O.C. was a hit in part by the fact that the characters kept evolving. Take Rachel Bilson's character Summer Roberts. Bilson was a throw-away character meant to be seen in only a handful of episodes. Instead, she ended up as a permanent member of the cast because she was a fan favorite. We all thought she was a bimbo because she was relegated to one line, which was "Eww!" But she was growing during each season. We learned that Madame Bovary was her favorite book. But above all, she received a high score on the SATs and was accepted by Brown. Now who's the bimbo?
22 The One Where Olivia Wilde Is Crushing On Marissa
These days, actress Olivia Wilde makes movies. Her, Rush and In Time were popular fan favorites, but a bunch of movies she made went nowhere. But she had an indelible role on The O.C. during its second season, playing a girl named Alex who dated not just Seth, but also Marissa too. Rumors spread during the time that Marissa's dalliance with Alex was to push ratings up, but we may never know the truth. What we do know is that Wilde lost the part of Marissa to Mischa Barton and that she was the second choice to play Marissa Cooper. The producers felt she had too strong of a personality to take on the emotional roller coaster that was Marissa Cooper. (Source: TvOverMind)
21 The One Where Willa Holland Successfully Moved On From The O.C.
Willa Holland played Marissa Cooper's little sister Kaitlin from season 3 onwards. The joke to explain that her character was never around during Thanksgiving or any other holiday was to claim she was in boarding school. Didn't her school close for the breaks? Anyway, Holland was lucky to find work after The O.C. ended. She has starred in Arrow for 7 whopping seasons, starting in 2012. Then, because of her connection with Josh Schwartz, she appeared in his show Gossip Girl as a pot stirrer. But even though her role was minimal, she made a lasting impact and she appeared in 5 episodes.
20 The One Where Rachel Bilson Plays a Doctor
Along with Ben McKenzie, Rachel Bilson has had arguably the most successful career after The O.C. ended. She wound up in a handful of movies but most notably played the lead role in The CW’s Hart of Dixie, which teamed her up again with Josh Schwartz, the executive who produced the show and who created The O.C. The show lasted for four seasons, ending in 2015. In 2017, Bilson joined the cast of CMT's Nashville which reunited her with Chris Carmack.
19 The One Where Rachel Bilson Created A Clothing Line
Did you know that Bilson is not only a talented actor, but also a successful entrepreneur? Well she is! She has a clothing line called Edie Rose, which started in 2007 and which was a collaboration with DKNY. Bilson's line-up featured jeans, casual dresses, jackets in denim and leather, and tailored blazers. Bilson's goal was to create fashion that's accessible to young women, which is why each piece is under $100. The line is fun and whimsy, as well as very feminine. (Source: MarieClaire)
18 The One Where Guest Stars Found Success After The O.C.
Many guest stars on The O.C. have gone on to fabulous projects. But you may have forgotten that they were actually on the show. Here's a compressed rundown. Cam Gigandet played Marissa's boyfriend, Kevin Volchok. a bad boy who had really cut abs. Gigandet moved onto play a crucial part in Twilight. Hercules himself Kevin Sorbo played Ryan Atwood's deadbeat dad in Season 4. Chris Pratt played a Brown student who makes friends with Summer. He went on to star in the blockbuster Guardians Of The Galaxy series. In season 1, a young Shailene Woodley played a bit role as Kaitlin Cooper and went on to great success by starring in the Divergent series. Paul Wesley brandished a gun in the 1st season and found incredible success as the star of The Vampire Diaries. (Source: Bustle)
17 The One Where Rachel Bilson Expanded Her Empire
In 2011, Bilson expanded her Edie Rose clothing line to include a tabletop collection and a few houseware pieces. Bilson was going for fresh and feminine tabletops. And her love of birds, butterflies and anything that's pure whimsy are incorporated in her affordable line. Bilson has said, “I was on what seemed like an endless search for really cute dishware and tabletop items when I thought it would be fun to design what I was looking for. I have a passion for dishes and thought it would be a great opportunity to design exactly what I wanted -- cute and stylish entertaining and dining ware that is affordable." Like the owl teapot above! (Source: BuisnessWire)
16 The One Where Adam Brody Bites The Hand That Feeds Him
Adam Brody played the geeky and awkward teen Seth Cohen in The O.C who'd rather die than miss Comic-Con, When asked if he misses the show, he said, "No." In an interview with HuffPost Live, Brody said:
"It was a wonderful time, but I'm significantly older, and that was ... maybe it's the equivalent of, 'Do you miss being back in college?' -- which I never went to, but probably a little, there are fun things about it. But that character? No." We have one tidbit Brody should know: do not eve bite the hand you feed. Maybe that's why Brody never appeared in any Josh Schwartz show.
15 The One Where Fashionista Bilson Launches a Shoe Collection
Bilson found great success after The O.C., something that eluded co-star Mischa Barton. She was often seen on the red carpet, she was a known fashionista who's always dressed in style and whose looks are what young women want to emulate. Naturally, after her clothing line and her tabletop pieces, she would create a shoe collection. With ShoeMint, she did. Created in collaboration with her stylist Nicole Chavez and the huge footwear designer Steve Madden, the collection has a nice collection of wedges and platform heels, which is just the kind of thing that Bilson loves to wear. Oh, and the price of each shoe is $79.99 because Bilson always tries to keep prices low. (Source: Cosmopolitan)
14 The One Where Mischa Barton Spoils Her Character's Fate
An hour before the season finale of Season 3, Mischa Barton ruined it for fans by revealing a major spoiler. There were rumors for many months before that Marissa was going to be cut off from the show, which meant that she was leaving it. She confirmed the rumors to Access Hollywood that her character passes at the end of Season 3. All professional actors know they're not allowed to spoil the endings of their show, and even during regular episodes. And on many occasions, actors aren’t even given the scripts themselves until the last minute to minimize any possibility of leaks. The fact that Barton revealed her passing shows not only her unprofessionalism but also that she was a prima donna who wanted to reveal to the world that she was above playing a high school student on a hit show. (Source: Screenrant)
13 The One Where Adam Brody Reveals He Fears Boats
Seth Cohen loves sailing. Even in the busy pilot episode, there's a scene where he and Ryan take to the water in his sailboat, which we later learn was named Summer, after, yep, Summer Roberts. In the dramatic season one finale, Ryan is about to leave Newport and Seth takes off by sailing away in his boat to Tahiti because it turns out he can't live in a world without Ryan. Yep, it was a bromance! Instead, Seth ends up living with Luke and his father in Portland, Oregon at the start of Season 2. The problem is, Adam Brody hates boats. Actually, he has a fear of them. So the person we see sailing away into the sunset at the end of Season 1 is a stunt double who wore a wig to make it appear that it was actually Seth. Problem solved! (Source: TvOverMind)
12 The One Where Jimmy Cooper Found Success After The O.C.
Jimmy was the doomed financial planner and father of Marissa. He was also a successful actor before he ended up on The O.C, starring in such critically acclaimed films like Ethan Frome. After The O.C. ended, he did a lot of guest spots on TV shows. In 2005, Donovan was nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for his work on the movie Good Night, and Good Luck. In 2007, Donovan starred as a series regular in the hit TV show Damages alongside Glenn Close. His character was killed off after three seasons. But don't worry, Donovan always has options.
11 The One Where Mischa Barton Became The Breakout Star Of The O.C.
Mischa Barton, who played the beautiful but unstable Marissa Cooper, turned out to be the break-out star of The O.C. She received two Teen Choice Awards for her role in The O.C. The role brought Barton into mainstream fame, and she made People's Most Beautiful People issue. She was the only one who found success while starring in The O.C. This was due to her immense product endorsements and her modeling career. No other actor on the show was asked to do a product endorsement, or made a film or did anything creative outside the show. Barton modeled for Calvin Klein, Bebe shoes, Aeropostle, Dooney & Bourke, among others. She was the face of Neutrogena in TV commercials and became the spokesperson for Keds Sneakers, which substantially increased their sales. Of course, we know how it ends with Barton. (Source: Cosmopolitan)
10 The One Where Mischa Barton Was Cast On The O.C. Based On Her Looks
Casting is hard. How do you know if your choice works? Well, for The O.C. executive producer McG, Mischa Barton "was our only choice for Marissa." At the time Barton was 18 and a fresh face and a natural beauty. Or, as McG gushed, “The depths and size of her eyes, the structure of her chin, a delicate nose and soft flowing hair—all the highlights of history’s most beautiful women.” Perhaps that's why Neutrogena asked her to be their spokesperson and she did television commercials for them. (Source: People)
9 The One Where Creator Josh Schwartz and Adam Brody did not get along
Adam Brody was a geek at first, and loved comic books. Then he got respect at Harbor High when he started dating Summer. It's hard to see anyone but Brody playing Seth Cohen, but it turns out that he wasn't even wanted on the show. Josh Schwartz, the creator of The O.C. actually hated him in the role. According to Schwartz, "When [Brody] first came in to audition, it was pilot season and he was going on dozens of auditions, and he didn’t really bother to learn the lines, so he just came in and I was like, “What scene is he doing? Is this even from our show?” We tried to find other actors, and our casting director. . . told me, “[T]his Adam Brody is very special.” And I thought, “That guy? I kind of hated that guy. He didn’t even learn any of the words!” (Source: TheDailyBeast)
8 The One Where Ben McKenzie Binge Watches The O.C.
Unlike Mischa Barton, who wanted to be released from her The O.C. contract and no longer wanted to play a teenager, and unlike Adam Brody who dissed the show years after it ended, forgetting that his role on the show made him a star, Ben McKenzie found no fault starring on the show. He still has respect for his first role ever, and how it ultimately changed his life. Without The O.C., he would've never been cast in Southland. In fact, in a 2014 Hollywood Life interview, Ben admitted, "Every year I sit through and watch four seasons." Now that's respect! (Source: HollywoodLife)
7 The One Where Ben McKenzie Reminisces About Being A Struggling Actor
Nowadays, Ben is a big TV star, but he hasn’t forgotten about his days before he played the troubled teen who always ended up punching someone at each party that he attends. In the 2014 Hollywood Life interview, Ben mentioned his early days before getting "the big break." He said, “I was driving in my five hundred dollar car to my temp agency job…basically like a telemarketer.” At the time he was a struggling actor. "[Then] the phone rang and they said I got The O.C. I did drive to work and I did tell my boss I’m not coming back, but that was about as much as I ever did. That was a pretty good moment.” (Source: HollywoodLife)
6 The One Where The Cohen's House Is Entirely Fake
The Cohen's McMansion was built on a studio lot, which means that all interiors of the show are set there. And that beautiful skyline over the ocean? It's entirely painted for both day and night and wrapped around the house. These things aren't that surprising. What is is that the Cohen's infinity pool is actually only four feet deep due to studio limitations. The pool does look realistic though. (Source: EverythingTheOC)
5 The One Where Summer Roberts and Julie Cooper Took Over The Show
In The O.C. Summer Roberts and Julie Cooper were supposed to be toss-off recurring characters, but they became such fan favorites that the show expanded their roles and made them series regulars. While the Summer Roberts character was a ditz and spoke only three lines in the pilot episode, it proved that she was more than that as she got some great storylines, like her falling in love with Seth while, at the same time, fighting against it, and like being Marissa's best friend. Who would Marissa talk to without Sum? So, after the seventh episode, she became a series regular. This was also the case for Melinda Clarke's Julie Cooper. She was just the mom to Marissa but then we saw her devious side, including her hatred of Ryan that created some great storylines. She became a regular midway through the first season. (Source: Screenrant)
4 The One Where Tate Donovan Confirms The Rumour That The Core Four Were Really tired Of The Show
We've heard the rumors that the teens on The O.C. were pretty much sick of the show by the end of Season 2. They were hot stars then and believed that they had options better than being on The O.C. But this was always a rumor until Tate Donovan, who played Jimmy Cooper, opened up and told the truth on The O.C.'s ten-year anniversary. He said, "The kids on the show had developed a really bad attitude. They just didn’t want to be doing the show anymore. . , they were very tough to work with. . . .When you achieve a certain amount of success, you want to be doing something else. [O]ne of them turned to me and said, 'This show is ruining my film career,' and he had never done a film before." (Source: Vulture)
3 The One Where Taylor Townsend Stole The Show In Season 4
Autumn Reeser played the neurotic Taylor Townsend who wanted to bring Marissa down as social chair in Season 3. In Season 4, she became a series regular and became Ryan's love interest. She was by far the funniest and wittiest character on the show, and always referenced pop culture to comedic effect, like referring to Derrida on a talk show and like referring to disgraced memoirist James Frey. She was adorable in her attempts to win over Ryan and even dressed up in a beaver costume to get his attention. She has the funniest lines. Like, when referring to Ryan, she said, "We were never going to work anyway, he doesn't even like cheese." Like when she admits she's a stalker: "Sometimes when I like someone I sometimes, kinda stalk them." There's much more too! (Source: Bustle)
2 The One Where The O.C. Made Indie Music Mainstream
Each episode of the show used indie music. But the indie route wasn't initially intended. As Josh Schwartz said, "It was because we didn't have a lot of money, so it was fortunate that there were a lot of indie rock acts, because they were easier to license." During Season 2, the producers added "The Bait Shop," a club that the core four went to for live music. Bands like The Walkmen, The Killers, The Thrills, Modest Mouse, Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins (see above pic) appeared, and became overnight sensations. Schwartz doesn't feel responsible for this music craze, but he did say, "I think that there are definitely times that I hear songs that are on shows or in movies and I think 'Hey, we used that on our show years ago.' ... And also [the bands] had an appetite to be licensed because at that moment there was no iTunes, there was no internet radio, really ... so if you were an indie rock band this was kind of the only way to get your music heard for a while." (Source: TVGuide)
1 The One Where Fox Execs didn't want seth cohen
Adam Brody might've never been on The O.C. because the network, Fox, hated him. He was "going to be a nerdy, book-loving Jewish kid," creator Josh Schwartz said. In fact, Fox hated Seth so much they actually tried to abort him! This is hilarious! Here's Schwartz again: "I was told at one point they really did not like the Seth character early on in the pilot process and the way the note was relayed to me was, 'Could the Cohens have had an abortion?' In the network's defense, the character of Seth may have been a little bit more annoying than he ended up being ultimately, but it was a bit harsh." (Source: TVGuide)