Part of what made The O.C. one of the best shows of the '00s was its characters. Much like a televisual equivalent of the Spice Girls, the Californian drama offered a character for every facet of your personality: the nerd, the bad boy, the troubled popular girl, the environmentalist. So when looking back at the actors of the series, you'll be surprised to discover there are so many The O.C. stars who are nothing like their characters in real life. When you think about it through, maybe this isn't the biggest surprise in the world; after all, aside from Matthew Perry, how many actors are really just like the characters who made them famous?
But after what felt like a multi-year hangout with Marissa, Ryan, and the gang, it's hard to separate the roles from the actors, especially with actors like Rachel Bilson and Adam Brody once having a relationship (you know, just like they did on screen as Seth and Summer). So maybe it's time to acquaint yourself with what these actors were like in real life. Even the most cynical and level-headed of you may be surprised by what you discover — namely, that these actors had their own lives that were totally different to what you've witnessed onscreen.
Let's start with the most obvious. Ryan Atwood comes from a disadvantaged background and the only well-to-do acquaintance he has is Sandy Cohen. Meanwhile, McKenzie's family is all sorts of well-connected. His grandfather was Robert F. Schenkkan, a professor at the University of Texas who collaborated with luminaries like Lyndon B. Johnson on the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967, and his uncle is the Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Robert Schenkkan.
Seth Cohen is great, but, let's face it, he's a nerd, with all that it entails (good grades, an allergy to hanging out outside). In contrast, back in high school, Brody had "cute girlfriends," got "poor grades," and lived to surf, explaining on Live With Regis and Kelly that he "pretty much lived at the beach."
For one thing, the actor who played Kirsten Cohen, one of the most well-connected women in Orange County, isn't even American, never mind Californian. Instead, Rowan hails from Canada. But, even beyond that, there's one key difference. The character had been married to her husband for decades, while Rowan broke things off with the father of her child, Canadian businessman David Thomson, before they got married (they were engaged for 10 months).
Creator Josh Schwartz described Wilde's character as "the bad girl who runs the Bait Shop, which is the new club the kids are going to be hanging out at where all these bands will be performing at." If you remember when Seth first started working with Alex Kelly, she was notably prickly, even using some martial arts moves on him when he attempted to get her attention by touching her shoulder when she had headphones on. Obviously, I don't know what Wilde's like as a person. This said, you don't generally get to rack up as many films as the actor by having a ton of attitude and being mean to your co-workers, so I'm calling it: she's super fun and easy to work with.
Jimmy Cooper may have been Sandy's rival for his wife's affections, but he was never all that much of a ladies' man. Heck, he has such limited options that he even spends Season 2 sleeping with his remarried ex-wife Julie. In contrast, Donovan has had some very famous girlfriends, including Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Aniston.
The O.C.'s famed public defender is all about two things: his day job and his family, with little time left over for side projects. Meanwhile, despite Gallagher enjoying a rich career as an actor, he's also found time to sing in the all-male a cappella group the Beelzebubs and to record his own album, 7 Days In Memphis.
As businessman Caleb Nichol, he's the consummate insider. But in real life, Dale faced some substantial challenges in his career. Born in New Zealand, after playing Jim Robinson on hit Australian soap opera Neighbours for eight years, he found it difficult to find work and had to sustain himself doing voiceovers. It was only after relocating to America that he was able to reinvent himself and enjoy roles on shows like Ugly Betty, The West Wing, Lost, and 24.
Rachel Bilson is actually interested in fashion in real life, seems as bubbly as Summer, and dated Seth Cohen, or his real life equivalent Brody, for years. Aren't they exactly the same? Well, yes and no. For me, a big part of Summer's role is that Cohen is her happily ever after. And we all know that, in real life, Bilson ended up breaking things off with her onscreen boyfriend and getting together with Hayden Christensen, with whom she has a child.
Pratt's Che took things so, so seriously, but as you probably already know from his comic stylings on Parks and Recreation, the Hollywood star has an amazing sense of humor in real life.
As the above list proves, these roles were very much performances, not a real insight into the O.C.'s stars.