The O.C. star Mischa Barton has said that she felt “pressured” to lose her virginity while starring in the hit ’00s show.
Barton was 18 years old when she played Marissa Cooper in the Fox show, which ran from 2003 to 2007.
In a new essay written for Harper’s Bazaar, Barton spoke about how she was sexualised in the entertainment industry from a young age, and how her character being sexually active made her feel like a “fraud” for not losing her virginity yet herself.
“Even from a young age, I was sexualised,” she wrote, discussing how the coronavirus pandemic has given her time to reflect on past traumas in her life. “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.”
She added: “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.”
“I had cultivated the persona of a New York-based, young and streetwise woman who was well beyond her years. Here, I was playing a confident character who was fast and loose and yet I was still a virgin. The kids in the show were quintessential rich, privileged American teenagers drinking, taking drugs, and of course having sex.
“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.”
“Did I ever feel pressured to have sex with someone?” she added. “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 said that bullying on-set was the reason for her decision to quit The O.C.
“There were people on that set that were very mean to me,” she told E! News. “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.”