Sixteen years after the hit teen drama’s finale, what are its leads Ben McKenzie, Mischa Barton, Adam Brody and Rachel Bilson up to?
“Californiaaaaaaa”, Phantom Planet sang at the beginning of the episodes of The O.C. Today, when it happens to come across some reruns on TV, it’s impossible not to get excited hearing those notes and thinking back to the moments spent in the company of Ryan and his friends in the early 2000s. The FOX teen drama, a meteoric global success, launched the careers of its young protagonists with a story that was somewhat reminiscent of that of Willy, the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: A troubled teenager leaves the difficult and dangerous reality in which he grew up to live with his public defender’s family in wealthy and elegant Newport Beach, Orange County (OC), where he tries to fit in while making new friends and find love. Sixteen years later, many of those actors and actresses are still working in television. But not all. For some, one in particular, life has taken a different path; unexpected if we think of the clamor of those days. What happened to Ben McKenzie, Mischa Barton, Adam Brody, Rachel Bilson and the other protagonists of The OC? What happened in their lives and where can we see them again?
What happened to them? The cast of The OC yesterday and today
Ben McKenzie (Ryan Atwood)
Ben McKenzie was anything but a teenager when The O.C. he made his debut in 2003. However, it is with the role of Ryan Atwood, a delinquent who, removed from his pseudo-family, goes to live in privileged Newport Beach, that he makes himself known to the general public after studying economics and a handful of small guest star roles . Over the past two decades, McKenzie has continued to work as a television actor. First he was an agent on TNT’s gritty crime drama Southland and then returned to FOX to play the iconic role of a young Commissioner James Gordon in Gotham. Since its conclusion in 2019 he has all but disappeared from circulation, but in recent days ABC has cast him in the lead role in the medical drama The Hurt Unit. The potential series follows a highly skilled team of surgeons and trauma nurses rushing to the scene of an emergency to treat patients whose lives hang in the balance, to the point where they don’t have enough time to be transported to the hospital. He plays Danny, the head of the unit with a pathological appetite for risk that seems destined for serious consequences. In private life, McKenzie has been married to his co-star since 2017 Gotham Morena Baccarinwith whom he had two children: Frances and Arthur.
Mischa Barton (Marissa Cooper)
As Marissa Cooper, a spoiled girl whose relationships with family, boyfriends and friends are often tumultuous, partly due to her unruly lifestyle, Mischa Barton she was Ryan’s first love interest in Newport Beach. Her character was at the center of one of the series’ most controversial moments. A decision, to have Marissa die in a car accident at the end of the third season, totally creative. An actress since her childhood and a “weird sex symbol” during her years at OC, Barton has never made it secret that she has suffered the media pressure resulting from the success of the series. Attentions and intrusions that led her to have post-traumatic stress disorder. After The O.C. and an arrest for drunk driving, The CW had cast her in a role in The Beautiful Life, but his presence in the short series was complicated by his mental health problems and subsequent hospitalization in the psychiatric ward of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Although she hasn’t stopped acting, favoring small independent films and in recent years the MTV reality show The Hills: New Beginningsin a recent essay published by Harper’s BazaarBarton revealed that she felt “sexualized” by her past film roles and also pressured to lose her virginity at age 18 when she rose to fame as a sexually active character in The O.C. The latest shocking revelation dates back to this year. According to the actress, around the same time, her publicist told her to sleep with Leonardo DiCaprio to further her career. His last (very short) time on the screen dates back to 2020, in the film Spree.
Adam Brody (Seth Cohen)
Also Adam Brody was little known before The O.C.although he had the most experience among the younger cast members (including an arc in the popular A mum for a friend). His sarcastic Seth Cohen, the only child of Ryan’s new parents, Sandy and Kirsten, immediately entered the hearts of fans, doing justice to the figure of the nerd. On the set of the series Brody also found love, Rachel Bilson, but their story ended before the series did. In 2013, he started dating the actress Leighton Meester (Gossip Girl). Once again, convict was the set of the comedy Sorry, I like your father. The couple have been married since 2014 and have two children. Professionally, Brody starred in the Hulu/Disney+ miniseries last year Fleishman a pezziin which he plays best friends with Jesse Eisenberg’s character, a 40-year-old who plunges back into the sea of dating after his divorce. Another important experience was that in StartUp. In the three-season crime drama Crackle, he plays the son of a crooked banker who uses the huge proceeds from his father’s shady deals to help those in need of very low-interest credit change their lives. Easier said than done, of course. Currently in cinemas with Shazam! Fury of the Godsin which he reprises the role of superhero Freddy, it was announced last summer that he will return to share the set with his wife and Taran Killam, as in the ABC comedy Single Parentsin The River Wilda film that re-imagines the 1994 adventure thriller of the same name. The film follows two loving but wary brothers (Killam and Meester) embark on a more dangerous than meets the eye rafting adventure with a small group of people, including the childhood friend (Brody).
Rachel Bilson (Summer Roberts)
You probably know the curious history of the role of Rachel Bilson in The O.C. His Summer Roberts, Marissa’s popular and naïve best friend and Seth’s love interest, was only to appear in a few episodes, but the way she won over audiences ended up quickly making her a series regular. Bilson capitalized on the success of those years with a starring role in The CW’s delightful dramedy Hart of Dixie, in which she played for four seasons the role of Zoe Hart, a young woman who moves to a small town in Alabama to practice as a general practitioner in a clinic left to her by a mysterious man who she discovers is her real father. Bilson returned to TV starring in 2018 with the crime dramedy Take Two, but her portrayal of a disgraced actress who pairs up with a private detective to better empathize with her next character didn’t make a splash; the series was canceled after one season. This year, however, she was one of the faces of FOX’s crime-legal anthology drama Accused. In the he episode of him, a teenager fears the worst when he learns that his mother’s former hospice caretaker is dating his father. Romantically, Bilson has been linked with the award-winning actor Bill Hader until 2020. In addition, he has been conducting with the former costar of for a couple of years The O.C. Melinda Clarke Welcome to the OC, Bitches!a podcast in which they and some notable guests watch and comment on episodes of the teen drama.
Chris Carmack (Luke Ward)
In The O.C. Chris Carmack he played Luke Ward, Marissa’s first boyfriend, the character who coined the famous expression “Welcome to the OC, you little prick!” with which he greets Ryan in Newport Beach after a fight. Initially the antagonist of the series, Luke has become what is called a “comic punching bag” in television and film parlance for the other characters. His stay was short, but he enjoys a certain consideration by the fans precisely because of the positive evolution of his character, also through the bond with his father, who he discovers is gay. Some time later, Seth finds him in Portland, discovering that Luke has found a serenity in him, even sentimental. After several guest-starring roles and in minor films, Carmack became one of the faces of ABC by starring first in the musical drama Nashville and still in the medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. In the first case he played an attractive aspiring country singer who, having become aware of his homosexuality, initially keeps it hidden fearing that it could hinder his career. In the second is instead Dr. Atticus Lincoln, for all Link, an orthopedic surgeon who divided Meredith’s attention with his colleague Andrew DeLuca, for a long time in the orbit of Amelia, with whom he has a son, and then ever closer to Jo. Now 42, Carmack has been married for four years to Erin Slaver and is the father of two girls.
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