If you’re anything like us, your heart still stops when you hear “California” by Phantom Planet — better known as the theme song to iconic teen drama The O.C. SheKnows talked to Rachel Bilson about motherhood, The O.C., and celebrating yourself, but we had a hard time not geeking out about sitting across from the one and only Summer Roberts. While the show has too many gems to mine through in detail, perhaps its greatest gift was Rachel Bilson’s Summer Roberts: a sharp-tongued, fiercely loyal It Girl who slowly softens to the nerdy charms of Seth Cohen (don’t even get us started on that epic romance!).
Since The O.C. ended in 2007, Bilson’s life has been a whirlwind. She starred in a series of films, starting with 2008’s Jumper, then returned to TV, taking roles in hit shows How I Met Your Mother, Hart of Dixie, Nashville and Take Two. Between all that, she gave birth to a daughter in 2014: Briar Rose, who she shares with onetime-fiancé and Jumper co-star Hayden Christensen. Bilson may have dropped the Summer Roberts role a long time ago: but the powerhouse energy and signature charm were clearly hers all along.
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SheKnows caught up with Rachel Bilson as she kicked off La Marca Prosecco’s Celebreak campaign. As a single mom, Bilson knows that taking a break is easier said than done, and that’s why she’s passionate about CeleBreaks. Read on to find out how 4-year-old Briar Rose has changed Bilson’s life, why she won’t be watching HBO’s Euphoria and yes, whether she’d ever consider an O.C. reboot.
SheKnows: You’re a very busy working mom. Do you have any advice for people on how to find a work-life balance?
Rachel Bilson: It’s definitely tricky and it takes a lot of focus and care. But for me, being a mom is always number one. So, with that, it has to be something really worthwhile — and, also setting an example for my daughter that it’s a positive thing when I am working, so she associates with doing something you love in a positive way.
SK: What’s the biggest thing that’s changed for you since becoming a mom?
RB: Well, you don’t sleep ever…haven’t slept in four and a half years! But you just feel like — you really are living a life with a purpose and like I said, setting an example for her is the most important. So, in that, it’s like every move you make you know is being watched, so you have to consider things a little more carefully.
SK: What’s Briar Rose interested in at this age?
RB: Oh man. She is definitely a combination of girly-girly and tomboy-ish. She will get in the dirt with all of — although, you know, there’s not really such a thing as girly or boy-like — she likes everything, I’ll say.
SK: Do you have a favorite mother-daughter activity?
RB: Oh gosh, we play hard, a lot. She’s really into swimming right now — she’s learning how to swim, so that’s super fun.
SK: Is she headed to school in the fall?
RB: She’s still in preschool. So she’ll have one more year in preschool before kindergarten and I can’t even think about kindergarten because it’s just horrifying, she’s going to be gone every day!
SK: Would you let her watch The O.C. when she gets older?
RB: When she’s like 30! Not a day before.
SK: Would you ever consider doing an O.C. reboot?
RB: Oh yeah, I mean — I love The O.C. It gave me everything, and I’m still super close to Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage and I would do anything with them in a heartbeat, so…
SK: What do you think adult Summer Roberts would be up to?
RB: Oh man. She really went to the opposite extreme and went to Brown and was an activist and everything, which I think is super awesome. I feel like she became a lawyer, she was really good at arguing.
SK: What was it like to be part of such a hit show at a young age?
RB: It was really surreal. And especially — it was in a time before social media and all of these things so, you really kind of experienced it in the moment. It was the best thing, and I feel like I was in a good place to experience it and I was surrounded by really great people and it was a great group and it was a special time and I look back on it fondly.
SK: Do you have any projects right now that you’re excited about coming up?
RB: I don’t have a project currently — there’s a few things I’m thinking about, but like I said, it has to be super worthwhile. Spending time away from [Briar Rose] is always really hard.
SK: What is the biggest consideration for you when you’re picking a new project right now?
RB: I mean, you definitely think about being a role model in the parts you take — obviously, there’s things she won’t have to see until she’s older, but I actually would love to do a kid-friendly thing that she could watch. I think that would be cool for her to see her mom in something that she likes.
SK: Has she seen any of the stuff that you’ve done?
RB: No. I think she saw me once presenting at something — she was maybe 2 at the time so it didn’t really register. But she was like: “Mommy’s on TV!”
SK: Are there any kids’ stories that you would especially want to be in if it were an option?
RB: Something with a positive message is always good. I’ve realized that there are bad guys in every single thing, and she tells me that she will not watch things with bad guys. She’s very sensitive — but she’s vocal about it, which is great, so we’re still kind of on the mild things. It would have to be turning something very sweet into a movie or show.
SK: Can you tell us about this CeleBreaks campaign?
RB: As a mom — for me, celebrating the little moments that you have for yourself is so important because you don’t get that many. As a woman, being able to have these things is huge. I love what it represents — everyone needs to take a moment to celebrate every day and acknowledge that.
SK: Do you feel like that’s something you’ve learned more as you’ve gotten older?
RB: Absolutely. You really learn to appreciate the moments you have to yourself, and the things that you do that you’re proud of — especially having a daughter — are so important. So yeah, for me, it’s huge.
SK: What are your biggest fears about raising a daughter?
RB: Oh gosh. So many! Someone was saying this morning, “don’t watch Euphoria.” Maybe I shouldn’t? You can only do the best you can and hope for the best. You know, I went through a phase but I turned out okay. You can’t keep them bubbled up forever, but you can try to just set a perfect — not a perfect, but a good example.
This interview has been edited for style and length.