TV & Movies

The O.C. Cast Got Nostalgic On The Show’s 20th Anniversary

“I keep showing my kids pics to prove how cool I used to be.”

Adam Brody, Mischa Barton, Benjamin McKenzie, and Rachel Bilson of "The O.C." (Photo by KMazur/WireI...
KMazur/WireImage/Getty Images

The stars of The O.C. are coming right back where they started from. On Aug. 5, 2003, Fox introduced viewers to “troubled teen” Ryan Atwood, whose life is forever changed when public defender Sandy Cohen takes him into his posh Newport Beach, California, home and he meets Sandy’s son, Seth, and neighbor Marissa Cooper. To mark The O.C.’s 20th anniversary on Aug. 5, original cast members, including Ben McKenzie, who played Ryan, and Rachel Bilson, aka Summer Roberts, took a stroll down memory lane to the early 2000s.

The OC premiered 20 years ago today,” McKenzie captioned an Instagram photo of himself and co-star Adam Brody, who played Seth Cohen, on Aug. 5, joking, “I keep showing my kids pics to prove how cool I used to be, but for some reason they don’t seem to get it.” (He has three children with wife and fellow actor Morena Baccarin, who guest-starred on The O.C. in 2006.) In the comments section, Bilson added three red hearts, while castmate Melinda Clarke (Marissa’s mom, Julie Cooper) insisted he’s “still cool,” attaching a smiling face with sunglasses emoji.

Meanwhile, Bilson and Clarke, who co-host the Welcome to the OC, Bitches! podcast, also shared their own memories from the show, which Fox aired for four seasons. Writing only, “Twenty,” in her caption, Bilson shared a photo of a bikini-clad Summer delivering her classic line, “Chino? Ew!” In her Instagram stories, the actor also promoted journalist Alan Sepinwall’s oral history book Welcome to The O.C., which drops on Nov. 28, and celebrated series creator Josh Schwartz’s birthday with an “embarrassing” throwback photo from 20 years ago.

Clarke, for her part, shared a shot of her and Peter Gallagher (Sandy), writing, “Wait Whut?! We’re how old?” along with the hashtags “20 years today” and “forever young.” In an April 2021 Bustle interview, the actor dubbed Julie as “one of the original Housewives,” explaining, “She’s a villain but you never play a villain as a villain. You believe your character’s truth — and her truth was maintaining this beautiful façade. Physically and monetarily. But ultimately she is an outsider, and that’s what Josh has explained is the biggest theme of this show: Everyone is really an outsider. They were one, or they become an outsider, or they feel like an outsider.”

Olivia Wilde, who played Alex Kelly, reminisced about the show, sharing an old photo with Barton to her Instagram story, per Metro. “Ok I see it’s (The OC) having a moment because it premiered 20 years ago,” the Don’t Worry Darling director wrote, adding, “Mischa = One of the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen. I remember just being like whoooaaaaa.”

Though Barton did not commemorate the premiere’s anniversary on social media, she’s reflected on her character’s shocking death in the Season 3 finale, as well as her “complicated” time on the set, which included her making accusations of bullying, in recent years.

“I was really sad I was going because that was like my family, but there had also been some things that weren’t so cool and I would be lying to say I wasn’t a little bit relieved that I was going to extricate myself from that situation,” she recalled to E! in 2021. “But I also do really love that she had this epic death and that it ended like that because it’s memorable and it’s not just another flash in the pan. People still come up to me to this day and they’re like, ‘I remember where I was when your character died!’ And they’re still emotional about it, like it was really me. I think that that’s cool that people actually took something away from it. There were lessons to be learned from Marissa, for better or for worse.”