‘It Wasn’t An Overnight Decision’ – Mischa Barton On Why She Decided To Join The Hills: New Beginnings

'There's always been a bit of mystery surrounding me'

Mischa Barton

by Guy Pewsey |

In 2003, The OC (the teen drama based in the luxurious area of Orange County, California), made its TV debut. It centred on Ryan, a teenager from humble beginnings swept into a world of cotillions and pool houses, but it was Marissa Cooper who drew focus. Beautiful, strong-willed and troubled, her popularity made an overnight star of a then 17-year-old Mischa Barton and took the actor on a well-publicised, much scrutinised journey through the peaks and pitfalls of fame. Now, at the age of 33 and after years of calm, she’s back in California to join the cast of The Hills: New Beginnings – the returning staple of the constructed-reality genre - and show the world who she really is.

‘It wasn’t an overnight decision,’ Mischa tells Grazia. ‘It was a process to even decide to do it. And by that, I mean three months thinking about it.’ So, what clinched it? She ponders. ‘There’s always been a bit of mystery surrounding me. And people not really knowing, quote unquote, who Mischa really is. And sometimes it gets a little old, answering those questions.’ We are sitting on a roof terrace at a hotel in Knightsbridge, amid a flurry of flowers and large pink balloons. The mood of the room is decidedly perky, but for Mischa, returning to California to shoot the programme means confronting a decidedly toxic past.

‘You see some of my relocating back to Los Angeles after having taken some time off and really stepped away to the East Coast, to a much more normal life’, she explains. ‘I was in upstate New York, in a very, very relaxed and real environment.’ This quiet existence provided sanctuary when it was needed most. After the success of The OC, Mischa became friends with Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan and became a fixture on the Hollywood party scene. In 2009, she had what she has called ‘a full-on breakdown’ and was committed to a psychiatric ward. ‘There’s something about the business that you love and hate,’ she explains. ‘Los Angeles is so intense, and you have to be in the right frame of mind to get into the audition game. And I suppose that’s sort of what you see me beginning to do: which is to try to get back into that.’

Did Mischa’s role in The OC make this transition easier? ‘It’s all very meta, isn’t it?’ she laughs. ‘Strangely, lines got blurred over the years anyway, with people not even really remembering which was which. I used to get really insulted. I’d be like, “I died!". The death of Marissa, at the end of the third series, was seen by many as the prompt behind The OC’s falling ratings. The show was cancelled after one more season. She stays in touch with some of the cast. ‘Everybody’s sort of gone off in their own directions,’ she says. ‘But if we see each other, it’s lovely. Adam [Brody, who played Seth] has a baby now, and Ben [Mackenzie, who played Ryan] is on his show Gotham. And I stay in touch with Peter Gallagher [Seth’s father, Sandy]. He’s been such a huge part of my life.’ She does not mention Rachel Bilson, who played the role of her best friend, Summer.

Finally, after years of hitting headlines, Mischa seems relaxed and comfortable in her own skin and hopeful about what’s coming next. After all, as the show’s earworm of a theme tune extols, the rest is still unwritten...

‘The Hills: New Beginnings’ premieres Tuesday 25 June at 8pm on MTV UK

Read more below for everything we know about The Hills: New Beginnings so far...

Gallery

The Hills Re-Boot: Everything You Need To Know - Grazia

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CREDIT: Instagram/@thehills

The first episode of the season one aired on the 24th of June, with season two confirmed before it even ended!

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CREDIT: Getty

According to an Instagram story posted by Stephanie Pratt which showed the cast and what appeared to be a camera crew in the background (and the fact Steph and Audrina were seen walking around LA with a crew) it sees like filming for The Hills: New Beginnings began in late August 2018.

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CREDIT: Getty

Lauren Conrad will not be making a return for the re-boot (sob), and there's no doubt both LC and her arch rival Kristen Cavallari (who also won't return will be missed). According to reports, Lauren is skipping the reboot due to 'other priorities' which we're guessing may have something to do with her very recent pregnancy announcement.

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CREDIT: Getty

Confirmed for the season one cast were Made-In-Chelsea's crossover girl Stephanie Pratt, who did the voiceover for the teaser, Audrina Partridge, Justin Bobby (though according to reports a Justin/Audrina reunion definitely isn't on the cards), Heidi Montag and Spencer Pratt, Brody Jenner and Whitney Port.

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CREDIT: Getty

Mischa Barton surprisingly made her onscreen return in the re-boot - which we were completely over excited about and it's throwing up all of the Marissa Cooper memories from The O.C.

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CREDIT: Instagram/@ashleywahler

Now that the cast are all grown up and have children of their own we can expect to see some seriously cute cameo's from their offspring. Entreé Delilah Wahler, Kirra Bohan and Gunnar Pratt. Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee's son, 22-year-old Brandon Thomas will also join the cast.

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