Can you imagine anyone else playing Marissa Cooper?
If Mischa Barton had the chance for a do-over, she's not sure she'd play the wealthy, troubled teen for three seasons of The O.C. Would she have accepted the role in hindsight? "Probably not," she admits.
In fact, Barton was skeptical about starring in the Fox drama from the start. "It's something I came so close to not doing. I had a really great thing with film. People say be grateful for what you have but it certainly not the kind of thing I was expecting it to be," the star tells Metro U.K. "I've kind of seen it all."
Barton had a rough time in Hollywood. She was arrested for DUI and marijuana possession in 2007 and exited The O.C. earlier than co-stars Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody and Ben McKenzie. In 2009, the actress was admitted into a psych ward under an involuntary hold after she threatened to take her own life.
Asked if she cared about her reputation, Barton tells Metro U.K., "Clearly not!"
"That would really do your head in if you were thinking like that," the star of A Resurrection, 28, says. "I just like to be seen for the hard-working actress that I am and not for a bunch of extraneous press. In general people are super quick to harbor on the gossipy stuff and less on how much work goes into it."
Having her personal problems overshadow her career has been difficult. "It's really tough when you are young in this business," the British-American actress says. "People blow a lot of hot air at you. That's the main thing. Keep your head on your shoulders—even when you think your head is on your shoulders, sometimes it isn't. It's just one of those things when you are growing under a microscope and changing and that evolution is human. That humanity aspect means flaws—which people don't want to see."
Though The O.C. made Barton a star, she'd been working for years. In fact, she thinks the notion of overnight success likely hurt her career. "People think they are overnight successes even when tons of blood, sweat and tears and years of ground work goes into it, which I find strange about society in general," the actress says. "They think it's an instant thing where you work really hard for these things."
What advice does she have for today's starlets? "Keep your private life private to the greatest extent that you can," she warns. "People have this insatiable appetite for it—so how far can you go with that?"