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Mischa Barton compares her recent stint on Dancing With the Stars to The Hunger Games, declaring the competition program an uncollaborative "popularity contest."
In a new interview with The Ringer, the 30-year-old actress candidly shares how she had been declining a spot on the show for years, until she could have more creative control.
"I had no idea it would be so bad," the former O.C. star says. "I got told off by my dancer. I was supposed to control the costumes — I was told that I could do the design aspect of it, that's kind of the reason why I agreed to do it."
"That didn't happen," Barton adds. "It wasn't collaborative like a choreographer on a film set … I was so confused by it. It was like The Hunger Games. It was all a popularity contest. It was awful. I was so glad to get kicked off."
Barton and her dance partner, Artem Chigvintsev, were the second couple eliminated during the 22nd season of the series.
Getting one of the lowest scores in week one, Barton's performance was criticized by judges and destroyed her confidence.
"I'm not a quitter but at the same time, I was like, 'I don't know!'" she told ET, following another disappointing performance in week two. "But ultimately I'm not a quitter, so we'll keep powering through and find our rhythm and get these dances."
With DWTS behind her, the actress is now focused on turning a new chapter in her life.
In addition to satisfying her passion for vintage cars by co-hosting the Esquire Network's Joyride, she recently sold the "extremely uncomfortable" Beverly Hills home where she spent most of her twenties and has relocated to West Hollywood, where she attends SoulCycle sessions, sometimes twice daily.
Potential television, movie and fashion projects are also on Barton's mind.
"I keep thinking of this thing I heard, that if you don't reinvent yourself every seven years, you're doing yourself a disservice. I think that's interesting," Barton tells The Ringer. "I think it's really hard to do — I think it's extremely scary for women especially, every seven years, but I'm kind of at that crossroads again. It's about time for me again to reinvent myself and do something different."
The fashionista also looked back on the turbulent heights of her fame, during which she entered the psychiatric ward at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center at the age of 23 and faced court-ordered rehab and supervision from a sober coach after pleading no contest to a DUI in 2007.
"It was an intense time," she shares. "It used to be like 10 or 12 paparazzi swarming the car all the time. It was no way to live. And the magazines, they insulted and judged everything I did. Everyone I dated. I really wanted to step back and take a break and reassess."
See Barton talking to ET about Dancing With the Stars in the video below.