Mischa Barton says that she felt “pressured” to have sex for the first time while starring in The OC because her character was sexually active.
The actor was just 18 years old when she starred as Marissa Cooper in the Fox teen drama, which ran for four seasons from 2003 to 2007.
In an essay for Harper’s Bazaar, Barton wrote about growing up in the public eye and the impact finding fame at a young age had on her mental health.
Explaining how the pandemic had led to her reflecting on her past “trauma”, she wrote: “Even from a young age, I was sexualised. Don’t get me wrong, I loved being an actress and my work on stage. I felt very grown-up, proud of my work and really committed myself to it, but I was still just a child.
“When I took the role of Marissa Cooper, I was 18 years old and fresh out of high school… Even being a virgin at the time in that context made me feel like a fraud.”
Describing how she “cultivated” the character of a “streetwise” woman “well beyond her years”, Barton said that she felt pressure to have sex for the first time to be in line with the characters of The OC.
“I knew it was important to get this thing – my virginity – that was looming over me, the elephant in the room if you will, out of the way. I started to really worry that I couldn’t play this character if I didn’t hurry up and mature a little,” she said.
“Did I ever feel pressured to have sex with someone? Well, after being pursued by older men in their thirties, I eventually did the deed. I feel a little guilty because I let it happen. I felt so much pressure to have sex, not just from him, but society in general.”
Last month, Barton claimed that she left The OC because of bullying behind the scenes on the show.