When The O.C. premiered huge in 2003, star Mischa Barton became an overnight celebrity and a promising talent. Six years later, she was strapped to a hospital bed threatening to kill herself. So what happened? She opens up about how her life "spiraled out of control" in the cover story of People's October 28 issue.
Though her family moved from London to New York when Mischa was 5, it wasn't until she turned 16 and landed her O.C. gig that she found fame — and all of its extravagant perks, like partying with Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie and flying around the world.
"We thought, 'Work hard, play hard.'" she says of those days. "It was a train I could not get off of … There were a lot of enablers around, people to fly you around and make it all possible … When you're young, you can do it, but after a while, it's going to come crashing down on you."
And that's what happened around the time her character, Marissa, was written off of the show in 2006. She was arrested for (and pled no contest to) DUI in 2007, she had a series of tumultuous romances, bloggers criticized her fluctuating weight, and her 2009 CW series The Beautiful Life bombed.
Concerned for her well-being after witnessing her worrisome behavior, her family staged an intervention on July 15, 2009. Having taken a Xanax that afternoon prescribed to her for her anxiety, Mischa blacked out and woke up in the hospital. She became "frantic" and talked about killing herself.
"It was a full-on breakdown," she recalls. "It was terrifying. Straight out of Girl, Interrupted. Story of my life."
She was then committed to the psychiatric ward at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center under a 5150 hold.
"I was never suicidal," she claims. "One slip of the tongue in a heightened moment, and you find yourself in that situation."
She eventually saw the silver lining, however: "I was deeply hurt at first, and then I accepted this was time I needed to be away from work, my family, and all the pressure. I had been through the wringer."
Now, she's splitting her time between London and Hollywood, managing a clothing line and rebuilding her career — with roles in movies like the supernatural romance I Will Follow You Into the Dark, currently in theaters.
"I've learned a lot," she reflects. "I'm stronger now, and I'm excited for what's ahead."
Source: People (print edition)