The Cast Of The OC: What They Looked Like In Their First Season vs. More Than A Decade Later

Anybody who was a tween or teen around 2003 is still mourning the end of The O.C... It’s been over ten years since this angsty teen drama finished, and we’re not over any of it—we still laugh when we remember one of Sandy Cohen’s awful jokes, still wish we had our own Ryan Atwood to save us when we get faded in TJ, and still can’t come to terms with Marissa Cooper’s death. Yes, we’re still secretly hoping that a rich family from the beach will adopt us, give us bagels and let us live in their pool house.

While hard-core fans like us might not be able to let the past go, it’s apparent that the cast-members themselves have moved on from Orange County. We did some research to find out where the stars of the show are at now in their lives, and what we found is pretty interesting! Although some of the actors and actresses have hardly changed at all from when they used to hang out endlessly on the pier (except for their noughties fashion), some former cast-members are almost unrecognizable these days.

A lot has certainly happened since the days at Harbor. Read on to find out what your favorite looks like now!

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15 Ben McKenzie Went From The Troubled Kid To A Sleek Detective

Though there were a lot of loveable (and detestable) characters who appeared in the first season of The O.C., none was as important as Ryan Atwood. Played by Ben McKenzie, Ryan was the center of the entire series, put Chino on the map and showed us that money can’t buy class. Though he sometimes got unnecessarily angry and annoyingly dropped his whole life the minute Marissa Cooper did something stupid, we loved him dearly.

If you look at Ben McKenzie today, he really hasn’t changed that much. He still has the same handsome face that somehow resembles Russell Crowe, though he’s grown out of that troubled-teen vibe and looks more like a distinguished gentleman. He’s still winning at the acting game and starred in Gotham as Detective James Gordon.

14 Adam Brody Didn't End Up With Rachel Bilson, But He Married Another TV Star...

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Though Ryan Atwood was the center of the series, and there would be no show without him, there are many fans who always preferred Seth Cohen. The Cohens’ only son, Seth was a comic fanatic, and when Ryan met him, he had dreams of escaping Newport and somehow getting the chance to talk to Summer Roberts. We still aspire to be as witty as Seth and to come up with something as ground-breaking as Chrismukkah.

Adam Brody has since appeared in a number of acting projects. He didn’t end up marrying his co-star Rachel Bilson, but he did end up with another TV star. Today the actor is happily married to the mother of his child, Leighton Meester, who is iconic for playing Blair Waldorf in The O.C.’s successor, Gossip Girl.

13 Rachel Bilson Is Still Beautiful And Now A Proud Mama

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Summer Roberts started off as a character that nobody really liked. She was mean to Seth and even left Marissa drunk on the pavement outside her house one night. She was originally intended to be a supporting character, but as she grew, and the chemistry she had with Seth was obvious to every viewer, she soon became the favorite female character. By the end of the series, she overcame her selfish ways and developed true compassion before finally marrying the love of her life.

After the show finished, Rachel Bilson appeared in both films and TV shows. Most notably, she starred in the series Hart of Dixie and even took a role on Nashville as Alyssa Greene. She gave birth to her daughter Briar Rose Christensen in October of 2014 with ex-partner Hayden Christensen.

12 Mischa Barton Has Had Some Hard Times But Is Working Her Way Back Up To The Top

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Some people loved Marissa Cooper, while others hated her. We can see why she had so many fans—she went through a lot of hardships in her life and had to learn how to be strong. She was understanding and was never judgmental, and she rocked those early 2000s boho skirts like nobody’s business. But we can also see how people didn’t like her—she constantly made silly decisions knowing that Ryan would give up his whole life to save her and ultimately didn’t want to help herself.

Mischa Barton came under fire just before the series three finale aired, for revealing that she was going to leave the show. She’s made headlines since the show ended for her legal troubles and mental health issues, which she attributed to a ridiculous work schedule. In 2017, Mischa stated on Dr. Phil that she had only eight days off in the entire year.

11 Peter Gallagher Is Still Our Favorite Father-Figure

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We all wish we had a dad, or even an uncle, like Sandy Cohen. He was always there to talk to when Seth or Ryan needed him, pushed the boys toward achieving their best and was arguably one of the only people in Newport who had a heart of gold. Add that to his loveable one-liners and his relatable weakness for cream cheese and you’ve got one endearing character!

Peter Gallagher has taken on a few other acting roles since finishing up with The O.C. He has a recurring role on Law & Order: SVU as Deputy Chief William Dodds and has also appeared on Broadway. Most people don’t know that he’s actually a talented singer and musician too, though you might have guessed from the episode where Sandy serenaded Kirsten at the Bait Shop.

10 Still Acting, Kelly Rowan Hasn't Changed A Bit

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Kirsten Cohen wasn’t always the perfect mom, but she did her best and she transformed a lot between the beginning and end of the series. While she started off as a seemingly shallow yogalates lover, she ended up being a source of support for her family. She had to deal with a lot of issues that began when her own mother passed away and eventually battled alcoholism. Everything she did, she did for Seth and Ryan and overcame many challenges for them.

Born in Canada, Kelly Rowan has also made appearances on a number of television shows since the end of The O.C., including Growing Pains and CSI: Miami, as well as the television film Cyberbully. The year after The O.C. finished, Kelly gave birth to her daughter with ex-partner David Thomson.

9 Melinda Clarke Is Still Gorgeous, Though Not As Conniving

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You might have hated Julie Cooper in the beginning when she was doing everything in her power to keep Ryan and Marissa apart, but you have to admit that by the end, she was one of your favorite characters. Yes, she slept with her daughter’s boyfriend and married Caleb for his money and committed a whole bunch of other unspeakable sins, but she spent the rest of her time with Marissa trying to make it right. And when she lost Marissa, she tried to avoid making those same mistakes with Kaitlin.

After portraying Julie for the last time, Melinda Clarke moved on to other acting projects. She guest-starred on Gotham in 2016 with former cast-mate Ben McKenzie, which means we’re one step closer to a full-blown reunion!

8 Chris Carmack No Longer Looks Like He Plays Water Polo

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Nobody liked Luke Ward when they first saw him. At Ryan’s very first Newport beach party, Luke famously “welcomed” him to the O.C. with a punch in the face and warned him to keep away from Marissa (like that was ever going to happen). But as the episodes went on, Luke let his guard down and turned to Seth and Ryan for support when his own family scandals circulated around Harbor. Luke didn’t stick around for the entire series, but we were sad to see him go!

Chris Carmack was the perfect choice for Luke, since he screamed jock. He’s starred in a number of films since then, including The Dust Storm and The Butterfly Effect 3: Revelations, and he’s still handsome in a much less jock-y way. He welcomed his first child in 2016 with fiancé Erin Slaver.

7 Alan Dale Still Looks Like Caleb Nichol To Us

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Though there were times when we felt sorry for Newport’s resident ogre, Caleb Nichol, we can’t say that we ever actually liked him. He was pretty awful to all his family, including his illegitimate daughter Lindsay, and was especially mean to Ryan, who he felt was sniffing around his daughter’s money. Caleb got his in the end and passed away from a heart attack in his pool.

New Zealand-born actor Alan Dale has done a number of things since his character Caleb lost his life in the pool. Some of the television shows that he’s appeared in include Ugly Betty, Entourage, and The West Wing. He’s also done well for himself in the film industry and has appeared in major movies like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

6 Samaire Armstrong Has Changed A Whole Heap Since Playing Anna


Anna Stern was a cool enough character, and if she hadn’t directly competed with Summer for Seth, we would have liked her a lot more. While she was well-suited to Seth and treated him better than Summer did in the beginning, any fan knows it’s Seth and Summer forever, no questions asked. But we were glad to see Anna when she returned briefly in the third season to help Seth out once more with his Summer-related troubles.

Samaire Armstrong became a mom for the first time in 2012 when she gave birth to her son Calin. Since her days as Anna, she has appeared in Entourage, Grey’s Anatomy, Sons of Anarchy and Dirty Sexy Money. She’s changed her hair from the classic pixie cut, and her face has matured quite a bit. Anna is still in there somewhere, though!

5 Tate Donovan Still Screams Jimmy Cooper

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Poor Jimmy Cooper. Although he had great intentions and in the beginning cared more about his daughter’s happiness than his wife did, he just couldn’t get the father thing. He was never good at being honest, always thought his problems would just end up fixing themselves, and couldn’t pull it together enough to stop being a big kid. Tate Donovan didn’t return for the final season, so we never got to see how Jimmy coped with Marissa’s death.

Since leaving the show, Tate Donovan’s most famous movie role would be Bob Anders in the 2012 blockbuster hit Argo. He’s also appeared in Manchester by the Sea and the TV shows Hostages, Damages and Law and Order: SVU. Tate was a big supporter of Obama in 2008, and again for re-election in 2012.

4 Is That Really Oliver Trask?

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In all the teen dramas out there, we’re not sure if there’s even been a character as infuriating as Oliver Trask. Really, it was his presence in the first season that sparked off the major problems between Ryan and Marissa, from which they never properly recovered. He was a pathological liar who was in love with Marissa, and in the end, everybody could tell except her. We’re still grateful that after he left the show, he never reappeared to cause more trouble.

Taylor Handley looks strikingly different from the character he once played. Since magnificently taking on the role of Oliver, he has appeared in Southland, CSI: NY, Law & Order: LA and Vegas. He was last seen appearing in the series APB as Nicholas Brandt in 2017.

3 You Probably Forgot Shailene Woodley Was Even In The O.C.!

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A lot of people don’t realize that Shailene Woodley actually appeared in The O.C. very briefly in the first season. In the first few episodes, she played the role of the young Kaitlin Cooper, just before she was shipped off to boarding school. We never got to see her much, other than when she was complaining to Jimmy about her alopecia-stricken pony. Kaitlin appeared again in the third season, though this time she appeared to have aged much more than three years and was played by Willa Holland.

Though she didn’t have a very big role on the show, Shailene Woodley has gone on to do some pretty amazing things. Most notably, she starred as Tris in the film adaptation of the Divergent series and also as Hazel Grace Lancaster in The Fault in Our Stars.

2 Navi Rawat Hasn't Aged A Day, Even Though It's Been Over A Decade

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Teresa Diaz was stunning to look at, and we admired her strength and independence. But she wasn’t our favorite character when she appeared in the first season since she ended up helping to create a wedge between Ryan and Marissa. Ryan followed her back to Chino when she fell pregnant, but since she could see he wasn’t happy, she lied about her pregnancy so he would return to Newport.

In all honesty, the beautiful Navi Rawat looks like she hasn’t aged a day! She married Brawley Nolte, the son of actor Nick Nolte, in 2012, and in June of 2016, they welcomed their first daughter together. As an actress, Navi was last seen in The Lachrymist in which she played Savitri Parwana-Lewis in 2014.

1 Amanda Righetti Looks Nothing Like Hailey These Days

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While Kirsten was supposed to be the grounded, people-pleasing daughter of Caleb Nichol, her sister Hailey was the total opposite. She was a free spirit who often trusted the wrong people and got caught up in the wrong crowd. In one episode, she even found herself working in a seedy club in Hollywood. Though she only appeared in 12 episodes, most fans of the show loved Hailey for her ability to stand up to Julie Cooper when Kirsten never could.

Maybe it’s the hair, but Amanda Righetti looks completely different from Hailey nowadays. Since The O.C., she has appeared on both Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D., as well as Entourage and The Mentalist. She married Jordan Alan in 2006 and gave birth to their son Knox Addison in 2013.

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