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Cast of The O.C., What Was Their Role and What They Are Doing Now

It’s been over two decades since the words “Welcome to the O.C., bitch” unveiled the secretive world of the West Coast elite, where drama was always invited and barely-there designer bikinis were the dress code. See how the major characters’ personal and professional lives have changed throughout the course of the series run from August 5, 2003, to February 22, 2007, after spending years hanging out at the water’s edge (Crab Shack and lifeguard tower included).

Table of Contents

Mischa Barton

Then, Barton played SoCal sweetheart-meets-damsel in-distress Marissa Cooper on The O.C. until the sad loss of her character in season 3.Now: After leaving The O.C., partying took precedence over Barton’s profession, which resulted in a 2007 DUI arrest and a 2009 suicide threat. She revealed her ups and downs to PEOPLE, saying, “It was a full-on breakdown.”

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She then landed a few more film and television roles, including the TV pilot Gutsy Frog and the eerie thriller I Will Follow You Into the Dark. She participated in Dancing With the Stars in 2016, and when she joined the cast of The Hills: New Beginnings remake in 2017. Invitation to a Murder, one of her ongoing crime thrillers, is currently in post-production.

Rachel Bilson

Then, as Summer Roberts, the popular girl who – you guessed it! – fell for the video game nerd (Adam Brody’s Seth Cohen), Bilson won hearts and improved her tan. Off camera, Bilson and Brody dated from 2003 to 2006. They extended their romance beyond the beach.
Currently: Bilson relocated from Orange County to Bluebell, Alabama for her first significant job after The OC, where she played displaced New Yorker Dr. Zoe Hart on The CW’s Hart of Dixie. After that, she traveled to Nashville to portray Alyssa Greene. Together with her former O.C. co-star Melinda Clarke, Bilson currently co-hosts the podcast Welcome To The O.C., Bitches! The actress and her ex-husband Hayden Christensen welcomed their daughter Briar Rose in October 2014. Most recently, she was with Barry Star.

Adam Brody

Back then, Brody’s cool geek persona adored Summer Roberts, Christmas, and comic books. Along with showing his affection for lead actress Bilson off-screen, he also exposed the preteen audience of the show to indie music like Death Cab for Cutie.

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Currently: Since completing his graphic novels, Brody has played a variety of characters, from a dangerous lead singer in the dark comedy Jennifer’s Body in 2009 to a pornstar in the 2013 film Lovelace. Brody has most recently played leading roles in the TV shows StartUp and Single Parents as well as a role in the Academy Award-winning film Promising Young Woman from 2020.

Benjamin McKenzie

then: handsome bad boy When Ryan Atwood handled his post-Chino life and tidal wave-like romance with Marissa Cooper of Barton, he provided as much drama as the Newport housewives — all while donning his trademark white tank top.
Now: McKenzie rejoined the LAPD as Officer Ben Sherman on Southland, which aired until April 2013, two years after he left his pool home apartment. Then, up until 2019, he played detective James Gordon in Gotham and Gotham Stories. McKenzie performed in the 2020 play Grand Horizons, and most notably, he made an appearance in the upcoming 2022 rom-com I Want You Back from Prime. The actor wed Morena Baccarin, his co-star in the television series Gotham, and the couple welcomed their second child together last year.

Olivia Wilde

Then, on The O.C., who earned Wilde’s seal of approval? She had affairs with Seth Cohen (Brody) and Marissa Cooper (Barton) while posing as Alex Kelly and working at the Bait Shop, a popular local hangout.
Currently: Wilde has established herself in Hollywood over the past ten years with parts in Spike Jonze’s New York Film Festival favorite Her, Tron: Legacy, Vinyl, and a five-year tenure on House M.D. With the popular comedy Booksmart from 2019, Wilde makes her directorial debut. Until their breakup in 2020, Wilde and Jason Sudeikis, the actor of Ted Lasso, were romantically engaged for seven years. Son Otis and daughter Daisy are the two children that the former couple has together.

Peter Gallagher

Then there was Sandy Cohen, the wise legal father of Seth and Ryan Atwood, who was born through adoption. Currently: The actor, whose Hollywood career far predates The O.C. (anyone remembers American Beauty and While You Were Sleeping?)?, continues donning the CIA uniform as National Clandestine Service Director on the USA drama Covert Affairs from 2010 to 2014. After being cast as Deputy Chief William Dodds in a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU, he went on to star in a number of other popular TV shows, like Grace and Frankie, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, and most recently, Grey’s Anatomy. Since their 1983 wedding, Gallagher and Paula Harwood have been parents to two kids.

Melinda Clarke

Then, Julie Cooper, Barton’s on-screen mother, who was always cunning (but always funny!) had it going on, even when she had to give up her home for a trailer park.

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Currently: Clarke’s next significant role on the CW’s Nikita, in which she played Amanda Collins, the compulsive liar of a clandestine government-funded organization, was as intense. Between 2010 and 2013, the show aired. Since then, she has played a few cameo parts, including one on CSI: Immortality from 2015. Together with her former co-star Rachel Bilson, she now co-hosts the podcast Welcome To The O.C., Bitches! Ernie Mirich, a Star Trek actor, and Clarke previously wed; they have a daughter together. The actress married experienced river rafter, Adam Farmer, in 2015.

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