It's been 15 years since fans said goodbye to Marissa Cooper on The O.C.
The character, played by Mischa Barton, was killed in the season three finale of the early 2000s series. Barton didn't really speak about her exit from the show. But in a recent interview with E! News, the 35-year-old actress addressed her departure.
Barton said conversations about her leaving The O.C. "started pretty early on" after Rachel Bilson joined as a series regular, "evening out everybody's pay." She also cited "general bullying" from men she declined to identify by name.
"There were people on that set that were very mean to me," she later added. "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."
It was halfway through season two—when the cast and crew "started doubling up on episodes and shooting [became] so much harder"—that Barton knew she couldn't continue.
She said the producers gave her two choices: "Do you want your job and to sail off into the sunset and potentially you can come back in the future in some bizarre TV scenario?" she recalled. "Or, we can kill your character off and you can go on with your career that you want and what you want to do?"
Ultimately, Barton decided to move on.
While Barton thought it was a "great ending" to Marissa's story, bidding farewell wasn't easy. "I was really sad I was going because that was like my family," she told E! News, "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."
Warner Bros. TV declined E! News' request for comment and Fox did not respond.
To see how the rest of Barton's co-stars' lives have evolved, scroll on.