Shortly afterwards, the media took great joy in documenting the rise and fall of Mischa Barton, who was still in her late teens at the time and figuring life in the lens of the world.
In this pressure cooker of fame, Mischa was arrested for driving whilst over the limit, rumours swirled around her being hospitalised and an ex leaked an explicit video of her in a horrific example of revenge porn.
However, when meeting Mischa Barton today, it’s all too clear that the 33-year-old has used her bumpy journey with fame to empower her and as we discuss her TV comeback in The Hills: New Beginnings, Mischa reveals the lessons she has learnt from overcoming her struggles in the public eye…
There really isn’t much Mischa Barton hasn’t had to deal with in the public eye. Shooting to international fame as the troubled socialite Marissa in the smash hit teen drama The OC in the mid-noughties, it wasn’t long until the paparazzi were tracking her every move.
What has been the empowerment mantra that has seen you through hard times?
“I am a strong woman and I have already gone through a lot and seen myself through that. I am here, I am healthy and I am on the other side – life is a journey.”
Why did you join The Hills – is it a way of controlling your own narrative?
“We are all at a time in our lives that’s very different and I think there has always been a lot of mystery around me. It’s fun to allow people to actually see me!”
One of the central issues in The Hills is sisterhood. What has the show taught you about the power of sisterhood?
“It’s girls supporting girls – I mean there is the odd fight in there, too! I hadn’t had quite so many girlfriends before this show so it’s funny to have five women hanging out together. I also respect them so much for being working mothers – that is not an easy job!”
You have been a working actress from such a young age and you have gone through so many cycles of fame. What do you think is the biggest thing you have had to overcome with fame?
“Having people talking about every aspect of my life. There really was a time when I couldn’t do anything or get away with anything or even leave the house without having to really think it through. Those were the days when you would have a caravan of paparazzi following you and seven cars of paparazzi. They would make up what would sell the photos and go along with that and whatever made it interesting because going to the store is actually pretty boring!”
How did you deal with that level of intrusion?
“I dealt with it with a lot of humour and also a lot of travel. I moved back to London for a bit, I went to Paris and I did a movie in India. Seeing the world through another perspective and other people’s eyes really opens you up to why people are so fascinated with and the way they look at Hollywood. When you put things in perspective it really helps too.”
You have gone through so many difficult things in the public eye. What have you learnt about yourself on that journey?
“I did start being very famous when I was only 17 years old in The OC. Your twenties are crazy anyway and if you magnify that, it was wild doing all of that in the public eye. There’s really nothing I haven’t started to learn about myself. I am pretty resilient, I have learnt.”
What has been the biggest change in the industry for you?
“It’s nice to be in the post me-too era. It’s nice that people are being held accountable for their actions. That’s a great thing as a young actress and as a woman, that’s the thing of our generation that it’s a relief to be on the other side of that and there is a voice for women now.”
How have you dealt with toxic masculinity when you have come up against it?
“I am a tough cookie. I think i dealt with it with some tenacity. I am tough and I was raised that way. I am from a family of girls and we were raised to be tough and to stand up for ourselves. I was never afraid to do that. When I was a bit younger I really didn’t understand the power of female friendship as much as I do now and now I really get it.”
The Hills: New Beginnings premiers Tuesday 25th June at 8pm on MTV UK