The teen aughts classic The O.C. may have ended, but the drama definitely hasn't. Stars Rachel Bilson (Summer) and Melinda Clarke (Julie Cooper) recently addressed allegations from former co-star Mischa Barton (Marissa Cooper) about the difficult environment on-set, calling her claims "perplexing" and even some "completely false."
"You know Melinda and I were talking immediately after it [the interview] came out," Bilson said. "And we were just like, ‘Wait, what?'"
Barton told the outlet on May 18 that her 2006 exit from the series was bittersweet. "I was really sad I was going because that was like my family," she said. "But, there had also been some things that weren't so cool and I would be lying to say I wasn't a little bit relieved that I was going to extricate myself from that situation. For whatever reasons, years later, certain people, when they see me from the show, they are so excited to see me and they only remember the good times. So, it's a bit of a mixed bag how we all feel about it. I was young, but I was excited to try and get to do new stuff, too, and didn't know if I could keep handling the stress of that environment that I was put in."
Clarke acknowledged that she couldn't speak to a younger person's experience because she was older when the show aired, but understood why Barton could have felt the way that she claimed she did. "Someone who is 16, 17, 18—that amount of hours of work, pressure, at such a young age—at best, you're exhausted," Clarke said. "And at worst, it's overwhelming and chaotic so, it kinda breaks my heart a little."
However, she continued that she found Barton's statements nevertheless a bit "perplexing." "We knew there was a lot of pressure on her but if it was really that bad of an experience, that's not right for any young person," Clarke added. "But, some of the comments were very, um, perplexing to me, so I don't know what the truth is about that. I do know that, yes, this was an enormous amount of pressure for her. And for everybody."
Bilson was a bit more skeptical. "I mean, I'm definitely pretty confused by most of it," she said. "And I don't know who she's referring to because I didn't personally witness any of that."
The actress was especially clear that when it came to one of Barton's specific claims — that her decision to leave the show "started pretty early on because it had a lot to do with them adding Rachel in last minute as, after the first season, a series regular and evening out everybody's pay, and sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really shitty" — she found them "completely false."
"That's misinformation," Bilson argued. "Where is she going with this and what is she trying to say? 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."
Refinery29 reached out to Barton for comment.