Both the cast and crew were over the show by its third season, with words like "petulant," "attitude," "feisty" and "frustrating" getting thrown around about the actors in a new oral history — while Brody admits to a "lack of professionalism" that was actually written into the show.
The OC was a breakout hit of the 2003 season, turning its stars into overnight sensations while cementing the actors as fixtures of 2000s pop culture. But, as the show continued to burn through storylines and lose viewers throughout its first two seasons, the cast was similarly burnt out as the series entered its third year.
And, in the new book, Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History, it sure seems like Adam Brody was the most over it by the time 2006 rolled around.
“By the time we got to Season Three, we were all burned out. We’d made so many episodes so quickly, and I think it wasn’t a happy set for long stretches of it,” series creator Josh Schwartz admitted in the book. “Quite frankly, everybody was over it at that point. And I was one of those people who was over it at that point. It had been a great ride, but it had been a volatile ride.”
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Fellow executive producer Stephanie Savage recalled the cast feeling “very lackluster” around that time as well, claiming they started “to be a bit petulant with directors, having an attitude, reading a book during rehearsal instead of paying attention.”
“We were very aware in Season Three of how disliked the scripts were, especially by the kids,” claimed Melinda Clarke, who starred as Julie Cooper on the primetime soap. “Adam and Ben were like, ‘We’re grown men and we’re playing in high school still.’ They didn’t really ever talk to me personally about it, but that was the general understanding on set.”
Her on-screen husband Tate Donovan also said the show’s four younger stars wouldn’t even read scripts for the scenes they filmed together — putting the blame on the higher-ups for not coming to set to tell the actors, “Hey, get your s–t together,” accusing them of going out of their way to remain “friends” with them instead.
According to Schwartz, things got so bad with Brody in particular, that they had him get hooked on marijuana as a way to work his disinterest with the material into the show.
“Brody just changed his delivery, his investment in it. His style shifted to such a degree that we felt like we needed to account for it creatively. That’s where ‘Kaitlin gets Seth hooked on pot’ took root,” he claimed. “We were like, ‘Well, how do we explain his lethargy on-screen? And at least if we can write that he’s stoned, then we’re not trying to write around it.'”
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Brody, for his part, fully admitted to his feelings … while expressing some regret for being so open about them at the time as well.
“I was polite to everyone. I liked the directors, and the crew and I got on really well and I didn’t keep people waiting. I would never scream or yell at anyone, or say anything f–king mean. But I think I very much let my distaste for the later episodes be known,” he said in the book. “I didn’t mask that at all, and I’m sure I openly mocked it a bit. So I’m not proud of that.”
“He was not shy about it,” added Ben McKenzie, who felt that energy trickled down and affected everyone, putting them all in a “feisty, feisty mood.” He added it was “a challenge, and frustrating, and all those sorts of things,” but felt “at times each of us fell victim to that” — well, everyone but Rachel Bilson, he said.
“I started to be creatively less interested. I blame myself for a lack of professionalism, and a disrespect to the work. In terms of engagement as a whole, I’ll just say that they’re different shows, Season One and [the later seasons],” Brody continued. “Had the quality been the quality of Season One, I’m sure I would have been a lot more engaged … I think the quality of it and my engagement went hand in hand.”
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He was also accused of not reading any of the scripts before showing up on set, with Savage saying he told them he’d just read the sides — or pages being shot that day — while filming. Brody admitted it “became a bit of a game” for him to see if he could figure out the larger storylines just by reading his scenes — saying that was unprofessional of him and something he’s “not proud of” to this day. “But I was on time! I was nice. And I knew my lines. I didn’t keep anyone waiting,” he added, conceding that also wasn’t “a ringing endorsement for my conduct.”
Bilson, who was Brody’s girlfriend at the time, said there were moments she definitely wanted to tell him, “Dude, sack it up,” and felt like she was in a tough position having him as both her boyfriend and costar.
“How do you balance that? Because you want to be supportive of the person you’re with. But also I’m a firm believer in always being grateful, and gratitude comes first,” she recalled. “And I think there were probably times where that went by the wayside. You grow up, you look back, and you can realize when you’re young, you might behave in certain ways you wish you hadn’t.”
Season 3 newcomer Autumn Reeser also recalled feeling “disappointed” by Brody’s behavior, saying she appreciated his talent before joining the show and hoped “to find more camaraderie” after being cast. That being said, she added she has “compassion for where he was at that time,” noting the pressure on the young stars, who she believed felt couldn’t “stretch” their talents.
Looking back, Schwartz said he wished he had called a “big come-to-Jesus meeting” around that time and given the cast a chance to air their grievances with the storylines, “They probably would have felt heard,” he said, adding the cast likely would have come with some “good ideas that would have enlightened us creatively.”
He also made it clear he loves Brody and would work with him again “in a heartbeat” — while adding any disinterest on Adam’s part wasn’t due to the show’s cast not getting along.
Welcome to the O.C.: The Oral History is available now.
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