“I Had No Idea What I Was Doing”: Mischa Barton Talking About Allegedly Dating Ben McKenzie When She Was 17 Is Disturbing

Mischa Barton Confirms Ben McKenzie Relationship, The O.C.

Mischa’s debut as Marissa in The O.C. hit screens in 2003, when she was 17. She previously spoke about feeling pressured to lose her virginity during The O.C. in a 2021 personal essay, writing, “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.”

In a new episode of Call Her Daddy, Mischa was asked what it was like being significantly younger than some of her costars. “It was a bit tricky for everyone. I was experiencing all my firsts and I was so young and my mom would be on set,” she replied. “I just needed a lot more attention in that sense because I had my mom there and there was stuff going on, and I was just finishing up school.”

Then, when host Alexandra Cooper asked Mischa what it was like acting in a romantic storyline opposite a 25-year-old Ben, Mischa said, “It wasn’t just onscreen.”

“It was complicated for me. I went into that a virgin, a kid, really feeling like I needed to grow up quickly,” she continued. “Acting with people older than me was a bit like, ‘Oh wow. They know what they’re doing. And there’s gonna be relationships on this show and you’re gonna need to play that part,’ and I didn’t feel really ready for that because I was always a really late bloomer in school and I hadn’t really dated.”

“That was my first — I had no idea what I was doing,” Mischa recalled. “I think that kind of set things off on the wrong foot, too, because it was like — you know people hook up on these shows and whatever, these things happen, but it was — we threw ourselves all into it very fast.”

Adding that there was “notoriously” a lot of “interdating” on the show, she said, “It definitely was tricky that it happened right out of the gate and I felt overwhelmed and not ready for any of that.”

“I remember they were like, ‘Mischa’s disappeared with Ben and she’s only 17.5, 18,’ and the producers went to my parents and were like — it was kind of a whole ordeal. And that’s in the very beginning of the show, before we were even halfway through a season,” Mischa said, saying that the three years she spent on the show felt like seven.

She further said that the production team supported her socializing with Ben in the name of “chemistry,” but that she was simultaneously “punished” for it once “it affects production.”

Mischa said that she was the one to end things, citing the “overwhelming” nature of the relationship that she wasn’t “mature enough” for. When it came to acting after the split, she said, “We just had to suck it up and get on with it, but there was a lot of jabs behind the scenes and off camera. I felt like that ostracized me as well, because there was a marked difference in maturity level.”

You can listen to the full episode here.

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