Mischa Barton admits to ‘complicated’ romance with ‘The OC’ co-star

Mischa Barton confirmed that she and her The OC co-star Ben McKenzie had a “complicated” off-screen romance.

On Wednesday’s episode of Call Her Daddy, the 38-year-old actor came clean about the nature of her relationship with her on-screen paramour and love interest. She shared what it was like coming onto the set of the Fox series as the youngest cast member, saying that she felt like she had to “grow up quickly.”

“I went into that a virgin, a kid, really feeling like I needed to grow up quickly,” she said. “Acting with people older than me was a bit like, ‘Oh wow. They know what they’re doing. And there’s gonna be relationships on this show and you’re gonna need to play that part,’ and I didn’t feel really ready for that ‘cause I was always a really late bloomer in school and I hadn’t really dated.”

At the time, Barton said that she felt that she had “no idea what I was doing.” She noted that she tried to compensate for being the youngest, “So I felt like I needed to catch up I think a lot of the time.” With her experiencing a lot of her “firsts” and her mom being on set, things were “tricky” between her and her co-stars, including Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody.

“I was experiencing all my firsts and I was so young and my mom would be on set and ... I just needed a lot more attention in that sense.” She added, “It was a lot of my firsts, let’s put it like that. And that kind of really separated me, a little, from them, in the sense that I wasn’t out there living on my own in LA yet.”

One of her “firsts” was with her love interest McKenzie, who was 25 at the time while she was 17.

“And I had no idea what I was doing,” she said of her relationship with the now-45-year-old actor. “I think that kind of set things off on the wrong foot, too, because it was like – you know people hook up on these shows and whatever, these things happen, but it was – we threw ourselves all into it very fast.”

Because the pair had coupled up “right out of the gate,” things became complicated on set after they split up.

“I felt overwhelmed and not ready for any of that,” she told Cooper. “I remember they were like, ‘Mischa’s disappeared with Ben and she’s only 17 and a half, 18,’ and the producers went to my parents and were like... it was kind of a whole ordeal.”

Barton added that her three-season run on the show felt like a lifetime. She said it was like “seven years,” explaining that the experience was “crammed into this tiny little space” and starting a show by dating her costar made things worse.

“That’s in the very beginning of the show before we’re even halfway through a season,” she noted. “So there was a lot going on there. That show ... so much happened in three seasons.”

This isn’t the first time Barton addressed how she lost her virginity. In a 2021 essay for Harper’s Bazaar UK, Barton got candid about how she felt like she was “pressured” to lose her virginity while she was on the show because she felt “like a fraud” being a virgin playing wealthy party girl Marissa, whom Barton described as “fast and loose.”