We all know that “The Beautiful Life: TBL” star and embattled tabloid fixture Mischa Barton had bad dental work done this summer and that it may or may not have landed her in a psych ward. We also know that said dental work may or may not have made her face temporarily puff up.
What we don’t know is why she decided to come back to television. After playing Newport Beach’s most tragicomic teen, Marissa Cooper, for three years, she famously left “The O.C.” — her character perishing on-camera after she’s run over by a crazed ex-boyfriend — to pursue a career in film full time.
The good news is that Barton, 23, was only too happy to talk to Show Tracker at length about her reasons for coming back to prime time — Her new character? A famous, troubled, jaded model — and why things are different for the actress this time around.
What made you decide to return to television?
The fashion world is something I don’t think anyone’s ever examined in a really realistic way, and I thought this show would be a good fit for me because I get to play a real character, and a lot of people associate me with fashion like I’m a fashion icon already.
Mike Kelley [a writer on “The O.C.”] wrote the pilot and wanted me to play this model, Sonja, who is a pretty interesting girl. She’s a little bit bitchy but also kind of nice. I’m having a lot of fun playing her.
Were you actively looking for TV projects?
Yeah, I was reading scripts. I was checking out what was going on, and this project seemed really interesting for a major network. It’s edgier. It’s not a show that’s being remade, again …
Ha! [‘The Beautiful Life’ is airing on the CW, also home to the ‘90210’ and ‘Melrose Place’ reboots.]
Not that there’s anything wrong with that! (Laughs) But for me this was new material. And Sonja’s a good character. There’s a lot you can do with her. I think if she’s well written and we’re lucky enough to keep Mike, then we’ll be good. We can make a cool show.
You left TV to do film. Did anything change that made you want to come back?
Well, yeah. There are a few things. For starters, I think a lot of people associate me with television. Since I left “The O.C.” I worked a lot in film, and none of it, even the movies that I really liked, like “Assasination of a High School President,” they never came out. Everybody said I wasn’t working or I wasn’t doing anything. That’s something that really [upset me] because I was doing nothing but working.
So I really felt like it was a good idea to go back to television because it’s a steady job. And it feels so good to wake up every day and know you’re going to make a good paycheck and have a job and get to actually act and not just sit around while you figure out if the next movie you make is even going to come out. It started to get infuriating.
Mischa talks about how things have changed, how playing Sonja is therapeutic, and why she didn’t participate in the show’s naked ad campaign … after the jump …