Mischa Barton is glad people are no longer talking about her caramel Frappuccinos.
It wasn't all that long ago that pretty much anything the 27-year-old actress did made headlines. Thrust into stardom playing Marissa Cooper on "The O.C.," suddenly the British-born actress was a Hollywood "it" girl, and everything she did made headlines. Some things merited coverage (her 2007 DUI arrest and subsequent psychiatric confinement) and others, not so much (those awful cellulite photos and the relentless scrutiny over her weight).
After being killed off the Fox show in 2006, reportedly dropped from her talent agency in 2008, and then failing to draw in viewers to her 2009 follow-up series, "The Beautiful Life: TBL," Barton dropped out of the spotlight -- except for largely unseen movies ("Apartment 1303 3D," anyone?), an episode of "Law & Order: SVU" (she played a pregnant prostitute), and a random Noel Gallagher music video (in which she ran around in leopard-print underwear). However, now she's back to promote a new indie horror flick, "A Resurrection" -- and she granted a rare interview to the Daily Beast in which she talked about breaking free from tabloid torment.
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"I'm so relieved it's not how it was," said the actress in the story appropriately titled "Whatever Happened to 'The O.C.' Star Mischa Barton?" "It's not the person. It was the time. Everything was an 'It' girl this or 'It' girl that. It was just over the top."
Barton, who told the website she does not miss the spotlight and doesn't even employ a personal publicist, admitted the constant scrutiny had an adverse impact on her.
"I just think there's a negative side -- obviously, that's an understatement -- to having all that attention," she said. "Because it's not friendly. It's invasive. I find, in order to get your job done, actors need a certain amount of anonymity. You're being blown up to that extent, and everybody is following every little piece of your life. 'Oh, she went to Starbucks to get a Frappuccino with a caramel.' Then they follow you to the gas station. It's impossible to concentrate on the work. When you just want to go on vacation and you hear a twig snap and there's a guy in a tree, it's not relaxing. You can't be a real person. So I'm happy things have changed."
Her stint playing Marissa Cooper opposite Ben McKenzie's Ryan Atwood seemed like "a long time ago," said Barton, yet in some ways also "like yesterday." Barton went on to talk about how much she's changed since appearing on the teen drama.
"I've evolved a lot," she noted. "I'm a lot older now. Not a lot older, but time's passed. I think in your 20s, all your years are quite formative. I'm sure I'm quite different."
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In "A Resurrection," which is one of Michael Clarke Duncan's last roles and features Jamie Kennedy as a producer, Barton plays a high school guidance counselor instead of an actual high schooler.
"We didn't have a huge budget," Barton said of the film. "We shot it in 20 days. It was fun."
She also has another indie flick in the can in which she plays a layered alcoholic, which she claimed was "one of the best films I've ever been offered."
"Things are heating up again, which is probably a good thing," she added.
However, not all of her troubles have disappeared.
In February, Barton's lawyer was in a Los Angeles court to fight a default judgment against her in the amount of $95,000. The case stemmed from 2009, which was the year of her psychiatric confinement, when she used the services of Doctors' Choice Nursing -- reportedly employing a team of sober coaches -- and failed to pay the bill. The case is pending.
She's also been trying hard to unload the eight-bedroom Beverly Hills home she purchased in her "O.C." heyday. After buying the house for $6.4 million in 2005, she's tried repeatedly to sell it since she stopped pulling in her big paychecks, which we detailed here. Last month -– in an apparent attempt to squeeze some cash out of the palatial place -- she decided to rent it out for a jaw-dropping $35,000 a month.
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