It’s been 15 years since fans said goodbye to Marissa Cooper on The O.C.
The character, played by Mischa Barton, was killed in the season three finale of the early 2000s series. And up until recently, Barton hadn’t really spoken about her exit from the show. But in a recent interview with E! News, the 35-year-old actress addressed her departure.
Barton said conversations about her leaving The O.C. “started pretty early on” after Rachel Bilson joined as a series regular, “evening out everybody’s pay.” She also cited “general bullying from some of the men on set.” Though, Barton did not reveal any names. And dealing with the invasion of her personal life left her feeling “very unprotected.”
“There were people on that set that were very mean to me,” she later added. “It wasn’t, like, the most ideal environment for a young, sensitive girl who’s also been thrust into stardom to have to put up with.”
It was halfway through season two—when the cast and crew “started doubling up on episodes and shooting [became] so much harder”—that Barton knew she couldn’t continue.
“I didn’t know where the character was going,” she admitted. “I look back on it pretty fondly, but there’s stuff I think people did wrong and the way they handled it. So, I just didn’t feel I could keep going.”
She said the producers gave her two choices: “Do you want your job and to sail off into the sunset and potentially you can come back in the future in some bizarre TV scenario?” she recalled. “Or, we can kill your character off and you can go on with your career that you want and what you want to do?”