For years, Mischa Barton has been trying to shed fans’ view of her as Marissa Cooper. However, she’s now joined the cast of The Hills, which takes place in – wait for it – the real O.C., and was inspired by the Fox show she appeared on from 2003 to 2006.
“In the beginning, there was an expectation of me to still remain being Marissa Cooper in this Laguna Beach, California, world, but it’s not feasible at the end of the day,” the 33-year-old told The New York Times in a new interview. She then adds, on The Hills, “You are going to see me. … It’s not in any way really scripted at all.”
That’s part of the reason she took on the MTV reality show – “people seem to have always associated me with one thing, and I thought it would be a good opportunity for them to get to see the real me,” she said – and left The O.C. behind.
The actress claims she chose to exit the drama ahead of its fourth season in 2003; her character, Marissa Cooper, was killed in the season 3 finale.
“I just had a lot in my career that I wanted to do and accomplish. I felt like things were really heavily reliant upon me, and I was getting no time to do any of the other offers that were out there,” the Dancing With the Stars alum added, noting that it was an “intense” time for her in her personal life. (She was only 17 when the show premiered.)
“Making the show was a lot towards the end,” she added. “I really feel like everything sort of worked out in the way it was probably supposed to. I may never have gotten a job or a career if I hadn’t taken just taken it then.”
That said, there was a ton of backlash over the decision to kill off her beloved character, who had battled with substance abuse throughout the series. But that was what Barton wanted. Writers spoke about an alternate ending in which Marissa could just move towns, leaving the possibility there for her to return in future seasons.
“I fought tooth and nail for that to not happen, because I just don’t think that’s Marissa Cooper. I just don’t think sailing off into the sunset’s the proper goodbye,” she told the Times. “She’s one of those burnout characters where I don’t know how much more we could have done with her anyway.”
The Hills: New Beginnings premieres on MTV Monday, June 24, at 10 p.m. ET.
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