Mischa Barton Reveals She Secretly Dated 'The O.C.' Co-Star

Barton and Ben McKenzie played the on-screen couple Marissa and Ryan on 'The O.C.'

Mischa Barton is opening up about the nature of her relationship with The O.C. co-star Ben McKenzie. Barton, who was 17 years old when she began playing Marissa on the hit Fox series, revealed on the Call Her Daddy podcast on Wednesday that her show romance with her 25-year-old co-star's character Ryan wasn't "just on screen."

The actress, now 38, described the situation as "complicated" for her as a young star. "I went into that a virgin, a kid, really feeling like I needed to grow up quickly," Barton said of going into the show as the youngest cast member. "Acting with people older than me was a bit like, 'Oh wow. They know what they're doing.' And there's gonna be relationships on this show and you're gonna need to play that part, and I didn't feel really ready for that 'cause I was always a really late bloomer in school and I hadn't really dated."

Barton noted that she had "no idea" what she was doing, "so I felt like I needed to catch up I think a lot of the time." She continued of the "tricky" age gap with her co-stars, who included Rachel Bilson, Adam Brody and Melinda Clarke, "I was experiencing all my firsts and I was so young and my mom would be on set and ... I just needed a lot more attention in that sense."

Her relationship with McKenzie, now 45, was Barton's "first," in fact, which she said "kind of set things off on the wrong foot" for her. "You know people hook up on these shows and whatever, these things happen, but it was – we threw ourselves all into it very fast," she noted, adding that things became "tricky" when she and McKenzie split. 

"I felt overwhelmed and not ready for any of that," she recalled. "I remember they were like, 'Mischa's disappeared with Ben and she's only 17½, 18,' and the producers went to my parents and were like – it was kind of a whole ordeal." She continued, "That's in the very beginning of the show before we're even halfway through a season, so there was a lot going on there. That show ... so much happened in three seasons."