The O.C., Autumn Reeser, Benjamin McKenzie

FOX

They said it couldn't be done. The O.C. reborn in year four? A stupendous season minus Marissa Cooper?! Pshaw! Many scoffed at the idea, but they obviously hadn't yet learned the power of the almighty...wait for it, wait for it…Taylor Townsend. The O.C.'s latest addition is perky, prissy and meddling as all hell, and as you fellow O.C. fans know, perhaps the biggest reason we're all still watching the show this year. So, when I heard a rumor that the woman herself (also known as Autumn Reeser) was in the E! building, you best believe I stalked that little lady for some scoop!

Read on for exclusive dish on the show, how she feels about die-hard Marissa fans and why getting wet for Ryan Atwood wasn't really all that bad.

Taylor Townsend saved The O.C.!
[Laughs.] Oh, thank you, but I don't know about that! I have a great time playing her. The only time I'm not thrilled is when I have to be at work at five in the morning. That's tough, because Taylor is so energetic and focused and I'm not at six in the morning. It's a lot to pull out when it's still dark outside.

So, I suppose you're not a whole lot like Taylor in real life?
I do relate to many things about her. I'm a big organizer. I totally spend my weeknights filing photos or recipes. I don't like to get in other people's business as much as she does. And she's more neurotic and needier. But I love Taylor.

She's a little different than she was last season, though. Did you have fun doing that whole sudsy, soapy Ryan Atwood fantasy sequence a few weeks back?
[Laughs.] That was awesome. I got to shoot that on my birthday. It was a great gift for me, because I'm a dancer and I like to express myself physically. I liked being able to go off, do whatever I wanted and be somebody different. It was so much fun.

What did you think when the producers told you that Taylor and Ryan would have a thing this year?
Actually, they didn't really tell us. They sort of hinted at it [in the scripts] and then it kind of just progressed in the episodes. I thought it was a good place for the show to go. I think Taylor and Ryan actually make a really good couple together. She's a good influence on him, and I like the storyline. I think the fans like it, too.

Were you at all worried that fans would turn against you for being with Marissa's man?
Oh yeah. Absolutely. I still am half-worried that people are going to hate me [and say], "She's stealing Marissa's boyfriend!" I'm sure there are people who are pissed, but mostly it's been a good response.

Is it very different on set this season with Mischa [Barton] gone?
Yeah it is. It's always different when you lose somebody who was such an intrinsic part of what you began with.

What can you say about Taylor's future? Might we see her French husband again? Will she continue to live with Julie and Kaitlin now that Summer's back in Newport?
We will see Taylor's husband again. I can tease to that. But honestly, Taylor needs to move out [of the Cooper house] and get her life on the right path again. Everything was derailed for her when she went to France. It's like her whole life has taken this different course. There was just no planning it, so she really needs to start over, because if she's not training for a job or something, there's going to be trouble down the way. I think she should go back to school, get her own apartment and get stuff together. Stop meddling in everyone's life, Taylor, and get your own! 

The next episode of The O.C. airs tonight on Fox.

—Additional reporting by Korbi Ghosh

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