22 celebrities you forgot were in The O.C.
I’ve spent most days since The O.C. finished – i.e. the past nine years – trying to convert the uninitiated to this holy grail of young adult programming. Quite incomprehensibly, the quest hasn’t been going so well, so I’ve decided to use this public platform to promulgate what I believe to be the show’s biggest selling point; being able to watch loads of big celebrities in bit roles before (or, sometimes, after) they were famous. From top Hollywood movie stars to leading names in TV, and even the creator of Star Wars, for heavens’ sake, The O.C. had it all. So have a scroll through these clips and pics, and then come back and tell me you won’t binge watch the entire show in a hurry. Go on, I dare you.
Who would’ve guessed that Summer’s shaggy-haired activist college pal Che would go on to become the leading man in the fourth highest grossing film of all time? Here’s Chris Pratt before Guardians of the Galaxy, before Jurassic World, and before the abs, but still being his irresistibly lovable and hilarious self.
Okay, so this really happened at the height of her ‘fame’, but it’s still priceless for the sheer awkwardness of Paris taking proto-selfies with a flip phone while also claiming to be writing a thesis on the work of Thomas Pynchon. Here’s Hilton playing random club girl #2381, A.K.A. ‘Kate’. Also, can we talk about that rhinestone skull and crossbones necklace for a sec?
The very same episode that saw Paris Hilton tempting Seth’s desires also featured Tom Hanks’s son Colin as ‘Grady Bridges’; the star of Summer’s favourite soap opera, The Valley. Asides from his ridiculous hair, Colin’s appearance in The O.C. is particularly amusing considering he’d starred in the movie Orange County just two years before. Or maybe nobody finds that interesting other than me. Colin of course went on to play more reputable roles in Fargo, Dexter etc. But regardless – we won’t let him live down this look:
Ah, the ol’ ‘Mallpisode’… Arguably the most fun moment of season two, we all lived out our dreams of being stranded at the mall after hours with our sweethearts in this classic episode. But among all the fun and games, did anybody notice the future Mrs Johnny Depp, Amber Heard, as this anonymous salesgirl?
We always knew he reminded us of someone! Yup, New Girl‘s Schmidt played an adorable young Sandy Cohen in Kirsten’s romantic flashback to the day they first met on campus. All set to a moving song from Youth Group, like every great emotional O.C. scene.
Before she starred alongside Ben McKenzie in Gotham, and coupled up with him/had his freaking baby in real life, Morena Baccarin crossed paths with the actor then known as Ryan Atwood when she played Maya Griffin – the daughter of Sandy’s rival, Henry Griffin.
Ohhh this is the big one. Back before she became a movie star, Wilde got her big break as Alex Kelly – the bi-sexual owner of music venue ‘The Bait Shop’, who simultaneously dated Seth and Marissa across thirteen episodes of the show’s second season. She absolutely killed it as the show’s resident bad girl who was secretly totally sensitive and relatable, which helped the young actress go on to score a number of big roles. Just another O.C. success story, y’all!
Speaking of that troublesome Alex character, Entourage star Emmanuelle Chriqui played Wilde’s possessive ex-girlfriend, Jodie, who effectively forced Alex to break up with Seth when she showed up in town for a couple of episodes. Here she is in action:
Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Before scoring his big roles in Grey’s Anatomy, The Good Wife and The Walking Dead, Jeffrey Dean Morgan played this antagonistic jailed arsonist who was just full of bad vibes.
Prior to her roles in Hart of Dixie and My Generagtio, generic blonde hottie / member of Taylor Swift’s squad Jaime King played Mary-Sue; a naughty spring break party girl whom Seth licked whipped cream off of on a wild night in Miami. And boy, did that get him in a spot of trouble with Summer…
Most recognisable as Dwight’s weird hick cousin Mose from The Office, but best known as the co-creator of Parks and Recreation, Schur tried to recruit Summer to join his environmental agency, G.E.O.R.G.E, in this episode from 2007 (which was written by his real-life wife, J.J. Philbin).
Before she went on to be inexplicably popular and successful, Insurgent actress Shailene Woodley appeared as a younger version of Marissa’s sister, Kaitlyn. At the end of season one, Kaitlin was shipped off to boarding school, and Woodley had to re-audition to reclaim her role when Kaitlyn returned in season three. Obviously, she lost the part to the much sassier Willa Holland, but nevertheless has gone on to do big things!
For some reason, half the cast of Twilight had a start on The O.C. Firstly, Jackson Rathbone played Kaitlin’s aggro boarding school ex-boyfriend, Justin, who turned out to be wise beyond his years:
Nikki Reed and Cam Giganget
Rathbone’s Twilight co-stars Nikki Reed and Cam Giganget also had stints in Orange County before making the move to Forks, Washington. She had a brief romantic relationship with Ryan as Sadie Campbell, and he was the notorious Volchok, who well and truly tore down everything that was good in Orange County and the surrounding area with his inexplicable hatred for everyone and everything, and *spoilers* caused Marissa’s fiery death. Good one, mate.
Ashley Benson, Janel Parrish and Lucy Hale
Another triple threat, these Pretty Little Liars actresses all had roles in The O.C.: Benson was an enemy of Kaitlin’s:
Parrish was this rando teen:
And Hale was Kaitlin’s roommate:
While you’re unlikely to have forgotten about his character, Trey Atwood, who was at the centre of one of the show’s most iconic storylines/scenes, you may not have connected the role with Marshall-Green’s more recent career, which has included big movie roles in Prometheus, The Invitation, and Devil.
Back when he was on the rise to superstardom, Chris Brown appeared on the show as brainy new student and band geek Will, who helped Kaitlyn to study for a test on the women’s rights movement. Since he has such a great reputation when it comes to women’s rights and all.. Here he is trying to imbue the character with some meaning.
Believe it or not, the actual George Lucas showed up to give Seth advice about whether to attend a meeting about his graphic novel Atomic Country, or go to his prom. The appearance wasn’t entirely selfless though, as Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was conveniently released a week after the episode aired. Here’s the clip in Spanish, since that’s all we could find on the internet.
Everyone knows that The O.C. featured a number of cooler than thou musical acts before they properly sold out, both on its soundtrack and in live performances at The Bait Shop. And when it comes to the show’s musical alumni, you don’t get much bigger than The Killers, who played their soon-to-be massive hits “Smile Like You Mean It”, “Mr. Brightside” and “Everything Will Be Alright” to Seth, Summer and the gang. While we’re at it, can we also give an honourable mention to Seth’s favourite band, Death Cab for Cutie, who also performed on the show?