Hailed as one of People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People, Mischa Barton has come a long way at such a young age. Her irresistible, girl-next-door charm on T.V. and her precocious demeanor on the big-screen have made Mischa one of the most sought-after actresses in young Hollywood.
Mischa Anne Barton was born in London, England, on January 24th, 1986, to an English father and Irish mother. By the time she was 5 years old, the family moved to New York City, where her father continued to work in the world of finance. This allowed Barton to have a relatively privileged upbringing, which consisted of traveling across the globe and sampling the best things in life.
a precocious camper
At 8, Barton and her sister attended summer camp, where they were asked to write and perform their own monologues. Barton’s piece about turtles was so compelling that she caught the attention of an agent who was scouting new talent. Excited about the news, Barton’s parents jumped at the opportunity to help nurture their daughter’s unique talents and supported her decision to pursue acting at such an early age. Barton first began her road to stardom in theater, where she landed the lead role in Tony Kushner’s “Slavs!” (1994-1995) and starred opposite future Oscar winner Marissa Tomei. She went on to do more Broadway productions such as James Lapine’s “Twelve Dreams” (1995) and Catherine Butterfield’s “Where the Truth Lies” (1996), which was part of the New York Shakespeare Festival. Barton’s riveting stage presence not only opened more doors to acting, but her striking beauty also caught the attention of the modeling world.
Barton had this to say about her time Off Broadway in an article with Time Out New York in 2009:
“It was a great place for me to start as a kid because I was really shy, believe it or not. I didn’t feel comfortable anywhere. Definitely didn’t feel comfortable with kids my own age. I would go to school during the day and then go to work at night with people like Marisa Tomei and Tony Kushner and Joseph Wiseman, and they would treat me on the same level. And so I opened up and became this extrovert and amazingly crafty kid.”
a world of options
Doing theater was rewarding but Barton was hungry for more. In 1994, she became a recurring character on the long-running ABC soap opera All My Children, a job she held for a year. But in the meantime, her beauty was also attracting interest.
Before she had entered her teens, Barton was signed to the Ford Modeling Agency. In that capacity, she modeled in a Calvin Klein campaign and worked for the likes of Gitano and Vogue Italia. Mischa has admitted that the work is difficult but very rewarding, since “it’s every teenager’s dream.”
With a rising career, it would be only a matter of time before Barton’s hard work and much deserved exposure would pay off. In 1997, Barton made her big-screen debut with the Sundance favorite, “Lawn Dogs,” where she proved her acting chops as an alienated girl who stirs up controversy in her neighborhood after befriending an outcast. Shortly after, Barton snatched small, but lasting roles in 1999’s “Notting Hill” and the hair-raising thriller, “The Sixth Sense.” Her vast acting ability allowed Barton to take on distinct roles, unlike most other child actors. In 2000, Barton played a young girl eager to lose her virginity in “Skipped Parts” alongside Drew Barrymore, and in 2001 she was the shy, reserved roommate of lesbian lovers at a strict boarding school in “Lost and Delirious.” At just 15, Barton had already developed an impressive resume that some adult actors today could only dream of having, and she didn’t stop there.
on her way…
Barton demonstrated her talents once more as she returned to television with a recurring role in the critically-acclaimed ABC show Once and Again during its 2001-2002 season. Having a knack for choosing unexpected and somewhat controversial roles, Barton, along with rising star Evan Rachel Wood, embarked on one of television’s first on-screen lesbian relationships. In 2003, she acted with Madeleine Stowe in the horror thriller, Octane. Appearing in a music video for Enqrique Iglesias’ Addicted, Barton would later also appear in James Blunt’s Goodbye My Lover.
Catching the eye of producer McG while appearing in an episode of FOX’s short lived Fastlane, Barton would soon find herself entering a world of drug use, alcoholism, heartbreak and socialites; otherwise known as Orange County.
welcome to the oc, bitch
The next few years would prove to be the most hectic for Barton. She landed a lead role in television’s most buzzed about teen show playing the troubled girl-next-door, Marissa Cooper. Marissa would become one of the most controversial characters on primetime television. Some people loved her, others hated her. But EVERYBODY talked about her. The media exposure sky rocketed Barton to the top of Hollywood’s most in demand actresses list, where she would become a tabloid darling and would find herself propelled into the world of fashion, both as a style icon and a working model. However, tragedy struck at the conclusion of The OC’s third season when Marissa Cooper was killed in a car accident thus ending Barton’s relationship with the show. Tabloids were rife with speculation as to the reason for Barton’s departure. Some stories indicated that Barton wanted out, while comment from Barton herself stipulated that it was the producers’ idea to let her go in order to move the show toward a lighter direction. To this day, nobody (aside from the people involved), know exactly why Barton’s involvement with the show ended so early, but, evidently, the new “lighter” direction did not work. The OC was canceled at the conclusion of its shortened fourth season. Despite leaving a bitter taste in the mouths of an army of fans, Barton’s time on The OC did not pass by without a silver lining. She had become a recognized actress, model and celebrity in her own right who had transcended the now defunct show.
But first let’s go back to the beginning, when The OC had first started.
fame. celebrity. it girl.
These are all words one could use to describe Barton’s life from the year 2003 onwards.
From what felt like day one, Barton would rapidly emerge as one of Hollywood’s leading style icons. Everything she wore – from everyday casual wear to glamorous red carpet dresses – would appear globally in all the leading fashion magazines. Developing respectful relationships with the world’s top designers, Barton would find herself at the forefront of trend making. Most notably, Barton had become famous for pairing her vast Chanel handbag collection with everyday casual wear and for pioneering the skinny jeans craze. Today she has a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most eclectic dressers, never failing to surprise and continuously setting new trends with her fashion ideals of mixing vintage with modern. You will find Barton both on the best dressed list and on the worst dressed list as the Mischa Barton look is about experimenting with clothing and allowing your own personality to shine through. Clothing, however, was not her only foray into style as Barton’s love of vamp-coloured fingernails and flat shoes would further cement her title as a trend-setter. The Mischa Barton look was born.
Her relationship with fashion and beauty in real life seamlessly transferred over to the pages of glossy magazines with Barton appearing on literally hundreds upon hundreds of covers. Becoming a celebrity on a worldwide scale meant that Barton’s appeal would transcend geographical borders, gender, culture and age group as she has received the honour of gracing such magazine covers as both Australian and British Vogue, InStyle, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar and FHM – to name a few. She would regularly be feautred in editorials for top magazine publications in a plethora of countries, everywhere from Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain and France to Germany, Russia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and of course the US. Barton would spend a lot of time traveling, allowing her to nurture these relationships with the media the world over.
Currently represented by one of the world’s top modeling agencies (IMG Models), Barton would also delve into the world of endorsements. Beginning with skincare giant Neutrogena where Barton was featured internationally in both print and television campaigns, she would also appear in print advertisements for Aeropostale and Dooney & Burke. In Europe and Asia, Barton appeared in campaigns for clothing brands Jaspal, JC, Morgan De Toi, Accessorize and Italian fashion house Iceberg. In Australia, Barton was invited as the guest of honour for retail giant David Jones’ Summer Collection Launch where during an in-store appearance the department store was shut down due to an overwhelming crowd of over 10,000 screaming fans. Whilst on her trek downunder, Barton also appeared in a television campaign for gossip magazine Famous. Barton also appeared in several seasonal print campaigns for clothing brand Bebe where she would also film the brand’s first ever televised commercial in 2006.
Barton’s longest standing and most successful endorsement contract would turn out to be with shoe company Keds. They had initially hired her in 2004 to be the face of Keds in the US, but as time progressed, Barton’s contract with the company would be extended and expanded several times which culminated in Barton working for Keds as the international ambassador for their brand. Barton’s would continue with Keds until Summer 2008. Barton’s involvement with the brand was quite extensive, including many print campaigns and in-store signings. Barton also appeared in several internet-exclusive videos promoting the brand, even before social media content had become the norm.
Alongside working with companies, Barton would also lend her beauty to raise awareness. Appearing in campaigns for Climate Star and Got Milk! (sporting the famous milk moustache), Barton would also go on to work with more serious organizations. In Britain, Barton appeared in print and attended in-store signings for SAFE (Skin Awareness For Everyone) in association with Superdrug. She would also lend her celebrity to TRAID (Textile Recycling for Aid and International Development) working in association with Visa Swap. Back in the US, Barton appeared in print advertisements for children’s charity Keep a Child Alive and has also been showcased on news programs protesting against the closure of an animal shelter in LA.
With all the glitz and glam, fame didn’t come without personal sacrifice. Quickly becoming a paparazzi favourite, Barton’s photo would be taken daily and every move she made – from buying a coffee to walking her two dogs (Charlie and Ziggy) – would become gossip-worthy news. This aspect of her lifestyle was made most evident from the media’s attention on her love life. Barton’s first two heavily publicized romances have since ended (first with Brandon Davis and later with rocker Cisco Adler).
With all the said, Barton would first and foremost always have a love affair with building interesting characters on film. Her foray back to the silver screen began with The Oh in Ohio in which she starred alongside Paul Rudd, Parker Posey and Danny DeVito. In 2005, a trip abroad to Italy was where Barton filmed a movie adaptation of Giovanni Boccaccio’s enduring classic The Decameron alongside rising star Hayden Christensen. This was to be but a taste of the vast array of movie roles that Barton would choose to pursue over the course of the following years.
here to stay
Showing no signs of slowing down, Barton made the most of 2007. This began with a trip to Canada in the second half of 2006 to film the epic romance Closing the Ring alongside Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and newcomer Stephen Amell. This was followed by a trip to North Carolina to film indie drama Don’t Fade Away with True Blood actor Ryan Kwanten. Next was a trip to Cannes to promote her role in the British production St. Trinian’s alongside Rupert Everett and Colin Firth. On the heels of filming St. Trinian’s, Barton jetted over to Russia to film Roland Joffe’s You and I with Anton Yelchin and One Tree Hill’s Shantel Van Santen. August 2007 would see Barton back in the US filming Yari Film Group’s Assassination of a High School President alongside Bruce Willis. September 2007 saw Barton lend her celebrity for another good cause by launching World Contraception Day in Germany. As previously alluded to, October 2007 saw Keds once again extend Barton’s contract through to Summer 2008. A trip to Canada in October 2007 would see Barton back in the realm of horror movies filming Walled In alongside Deborah Kara Unger and Cameron Bright. December then came around where Barton secured a role in the psycho-thriller Homecoming opposite Matt Long and 90210’s Jessica Stroup. But it was during Christmas break from filming when the world would hear of Barton’s epic mistake…she was arrested for a DUI.
Barton was arrested early in the morning of December 27th, 2007 in West Hollywood where she was taken to a police station and released on $10,000 bail at approximately 10am. Barton made her first public announcement when she called into Ryan Seacrest’s radio show saying “Obviously I’m 100 percent responsible for my actions in this case. I’m really disappointed in myself. I don’t know what to say about it, except that I’m not perfect, and I just don’t ever intend to do something this stupid again.” She had revealed that she was at a friend’s house and was trying to get her car home when the arrest occurred. Barton was officially charged in February 2008 and was sentenced to three years unsupervised probation in April 2008 where Barton plead no contest to the misdemeanor charges. Barton was also ordered to complete a three month alcohol education class and pay a fine of $2,000. Since the arrest, Barton has made several statements condemning her behaviour and vowing not to behave in such a reckless way again.
In a 2009, over a year after the arrest, Barton gave this statement regarding the incident to MSN News:
‘I have no privacy and therefore I have grown up in the public arena. Not an excuse, just a fact. I should have known better than to drink-drive and I am just very happy nothing worse happened. I have learnt a huge lesson and am now also more wary of my friends and their influence over me. I should never have got in that car, and for that I admit my guilt. Sometimes you need a big shock to shake you up.’
2008 was not to be all gloom and media scandal, Barton quickly dusted herself off and continued production on Homecoming in January 2008. The film was successfully completed and slated for theatrical release on July 17th, 2009. Barton then jetted off to the Sundance Film Festival alongside Reece Thompson and director Brett Simon to promote Assassination of a High School President. January 2008 also saw Barton’s second campaign for fashion house Iceberg launch. Over the next few months the public would see a new romance blossom between Barton and Taylor Locke from the indie-band Rooney. April 2008 saw Barton head back down to Australia where she was invited as a guest to the MTV Australia Awards. Her stay was then extended as Barton was asked to help launch the first day of Australian Fashion Week. The middle of the year would then come around where Barton would try her hand at designing a handbag collection launching in July of 2008. The collection would prove to be a very successful endeavor. Shortly after the collection hit stores, Barton drew her attention back to the silver screen by securing a role opposite Martin Sheen in a film titled Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain based on an industrial disaster in India. September 2008 saw two significant announcements in Barton’s life. One would be the break-up of Barton’s relationship with Taylor Locke and the other was a new design collaboration for a hair accessories collection with Stacey Lapidus. Barton also cemented her role as an ambassador for charity Save the Children in September 2008 by visiting a primary school in Soweto where she got to see first hand the impact of malnourishment and AIDS. Barton would also continue her work with Lupus LA and become an ambassador for charity Hear the World. November 2008 saw Barton enter the digital age by launching an official blog online. She would also attend the grand opening of Atlantis, The Palm Resort, in Dubai which would garner worldwide media attention for its epic scale. December 2008 saw Barton close out the year with another blooming romance (Luke Pritchard from The Kooks – which would end in March 2009) and she would head over to India to begin production on Bhopal: A Prayer for Rain.
the beauty lands in the beautiful life
The beginning of 2009 would see Barton trek from various cities in the world; London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Madrid, Milan etc. Where she would continue her presence as a fashion icon by attending various fashion shows and participating in countless modeling assignments for magazine editorials. 2009 would also mark Barton’s latest endorsement by appearing as the face of haircare giant Herbal Essences. March 2009 would showcase Barton’s first full-time return to television since The OC, with the announcement of a starring role in a new CW drama titled The Beautiful Life executive produced by Ashton Kutcher. Joining the cast would be a couple of other recognized names including Disney darling Sara Paxton, High School Musical alum Corbin Bleu and ex-supermodel turned business mogel Elle Macpherson. In April 2009, Barton continued her charitable work and created a piece of charity artwork for Australian clothing label Sass & Bide. Named ‘The Shine Collective’ (an initiative of Sass & Bide with Barnarados), the art was auctioned off in July 2009 with proceeds going to creative counseling workshops for abused children in Britain and Australia. Barton also participated in a Bvlgari/Save the Children Rewrite the Future campaign to help raise funds in delivering education to child victims of conflict and war. May 2009 would see the announcement of an official series pick up for the new show with production slated to begin mid-July 2009.
On the business front, Barton took another step with her handbag collection by launching an online e-boutique in January 2009. Previously, the collection had only been available in store or through a few selected online retailers, namely ASOS who were one of the pioneers of the brand. The handbag collection would continue to grow over the coming seasons. A second and final collection of Mischa’s hair accessories under Stacey Lapidus also launched in 2009.
stop the presses! 5150
In July 2009, a little while before production was due to begin on The Beautiful Life and shortly after Barton had undergone dental surgery, the world would learn of Barton’s 5150 hold. Barton was sectioned under a 5150 which basically allows a qualified officer to hold a patient deemed to have a mental disorder without their consent if they are considered a danger to themselves or others. Due to her previous legal troubles, tabloids were once again rife with speculation. Many claimed drug/alcohol abuse while Barton’s team would only associate the hold due to issues arising from the above mentioned dental surgery. Prior to the 5150 hold, Barton had made a public appearance with Mohammed Al Fayed at the prestigious opening of the Harrods Summer Sale in London. At this event, Barton appeared swollen around her jaw and her demeanor was also quite sullen and drowsy, which would later add context – and arguably credence for the dental complications story – to the lead-up of the 5150 hold. Again, nobody, aside from the people involved, know exactly what led to Barton’s psychiatric hold. Barton has since alluded to not only suffering greatly at the hands of a dental surgery riddled with complications, but that the surgery was an additional pressure during a time in her life where she was suffering through stages of depression.
Barton spoke about the incident with some detail in an interview with Time Out New York in August 2009:
“I went through a tough spot where everything compounded on me, and it was like a perfect storm, like everything was happening to me at once. The show, travel and then this fairly routine surgery that went wrong—it’s still just healing. But I had to get through it without proper painkillers because I couldn’t take those during work. So it’s been a nightmare.”
In the same interview and when asked if the 5150 hold was a nervous breakdown, Barton had this to say:
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I had a friend who had a quasi–nervous breakdown, but I’m not sure it’s the same thing. I’m not sure I’m capable of a full-on nervous breakdown, but it was pretty bad. It didn’t last that long. It was more about the pain. I have a newfound respect for people who have chronic pain. I started getting migraines.”
the show must go on
At the end of July, and within weeks of the 5150, Barton made her first public outing at LAX where she was spotted boarding a flight to New York to begin production on The Beautiful Life. A few days prior to this, Ashton Kutcher had used Twitter to announce that “Mischa was doing great.” Barton joined her fellow cast members in New York as scheduled with Kutcher even proclaiming to OK! Magazine that “she was never unavailable for a day of work.” All the actors gave Mischa their full support with Ben Hollingsworth making this statement to People:
“We were all worried about her. We didn’t really know what was going on, but she’s looking great. She’s feeling great and it’s just good to have her back. We start shooting again on Friday and she’s ready to work. We’re all ready to jump into it and are very excited – even Mischa.”
In early-August, Kutcher tweeted a behind-the-scenes photo of Barton getting her make-up done to prove how healthy and happy she was looking and feeling. This, for the most part, put negative speculation to rest and it was now time for business as usual. Barton would spend the next few months on set filming The Beautiful Life in New York City awaiting the series premiere in September on The CW.
the writing’s on the wall
The Beautiful Life premiered on September 16th, 2009 to very weak overnight ratings with approximately 1.46 million viewers and 0.7 in the 18-49 demo. The second episode dropped to just over one million viewers with a 0.5 adults 18-49 rating. About a week prior to The Beautiful Life’s premiere, Zap2It published an article stating that the show was doomed to begin with due to The CW investing most of its advertising budget in launching its two other new series, Melrose Place and The Vampire Diaries. The article talked about how The CW never sent out a full pilot to the media for review, Melrose Place and The Vampire diaries were “supported with webisodes, minisites and other exclusive content” while The Beautiful Life was not, Facebook links to The Beautiful Life were not functioning, Melrose Place and The Vampire Diaries both received large billboards in key cities while The Beautiful Life did not (just posters), and finally, the network only ran three ads for the show on premiere night. This inevitably meant that the show was pulled from The CW’s schedule after only two episodes had aired. The show was canceled.
Six full episodes of the series were produced (five were ready for air) so shortly after being pulled off air, The Beautiful Life’s production company struck up a deal with HP to stream the produced episodes for free on YouTube. There was a glimmer of hope that the show would undergo some tweaking to launch a web series instead, but that never came to fruition.
Barton had this to say about the show’s early demise in an interview with Access Hollywood:
“They [The CW] were unable to bring in an audience to it. It’s like they’ve got two other franchises going on there at the same time, and we got swallowed up,” she added of The CW. “It’s more their loss, I think. It could’ve been I think a really, really cool show.”
“It was really sweet after [the show was canceled] because all these people Twittered the next day, like 10,000 people Twittered trying to save the show and stuff,” Mischa continued. “It reminded me how important the core fan base is. Whatever bulls**t gets written, you know you’ve got fans out there who care.”
Barton also told Access Hollywood that she was “moving on” and that she did!
the next move
Barton spent the next few months basically recovering from the ups and downs of the past year. She admitted to OK! Magazine that 2009 “was a tumultuous year. It was one thing after another and it lead to a pretty reasonable breakdown. I suffer from depression and that’s the truth. I’ve never told anybody that. I balance [depression] with positive things in my life and that’s why I have my outlets of music and literature… As much as I get down, I’m an upbeat person.”
January 2010 brought some surprising news with Barton once again returning to television. However, this time, Barton was committing only to a guest-starring role in the successful crime drama Law & Order: SVU. Barton would star as a pregnant prostitute opposite Mariska Hargitay and Christopher Meloni. Hargitay had some very kind words for Barton from Access Hollywood:
“She’s really knocking it out of the park on SVU. Her work has shined… Mischa did some very beautiful, touching work and quite frankly, blew me away.” Barton’s episode aired in March 2010.
In the meantime, the business side of Barton was continuing to gain traction. It was now almost two years since the initial launch of the handbag collection with new distributors coming on board from various international locations.
May 2010 brought Barton’s next endorsement, Rosa Clara Bridalwear. Barton appeared in a photographic campaign and also walked the runway for the designer in Spain. Shortly after the Rosa Clara event, Barton was also announced as the new face for Phillip Plein’s A/W 2010 collection. Barton appeared in an extensive print campaign for the brand.
In July 2010, Barton embarked on a new romance with British DJ Ali Love. The romance ended in the early part of 2011.
August 2010 saw Barton return to the movies, with a starring role in the low-budget indie romantic comedy Ben Banks co-starring Melora Hardin. This was followed by an announcement in November 2010 that Barton would star opposite Rebecca De Mornay in Barton’s first 3D movie titled Apartment 1303. Production delays meant that Apartment 1303 3D was put on hold for a while, which gave Barton plenty of time to fly to Pittsburgh in December 2010 and film The Sibling opposite Devon Sawa and Michael Clarke Duncan. Barton was also set to star in Setup, a movie starring Bruce Willis, Ryan Phillippe and 50 Cent, but the production schedule clashed with The Sibling.
In March 2011, Barton shot a campaign for a Japanese skincare company called O.C.Fenix. May 2011 marked a bit of a makeover for Mischa Barton Handbags with the company launching a new website and increasing its social media presence.
June 2011 saw Barton return to television, this time for her first Lifetime Original Movie titled Offline with an airdate set for 2012. August 2011 saw Barton’s foray into art and painting with a presentation called My Boyfriend Was Stolen by Tron. September 2011 had Barton film scenes for stylist June Ambrose’s VH1 reality show, Styled by June, set to air in March 2012. Basically a year after it was announced, production on Apartment 1303 3D finally began in November 2011. Shortly after production wrapped on Apartment 1303 3D, it was announced that Barton would film I Will Follow You Into the Dark in January 2012.
mischa: the entrepreneur
After many months of speculation, December 2011 saw the announcement that Barton would be opening a boutique in London which will stock Barton’s handbag collection along with a clothing line and beauty products. The launch of the physical boutique was preceded by an online boutique in January 2012 (akin to the Mischa Barton Handbags website) titled Mischa’s Place. The Mischa’s Place website stocks Barton’s handbag collection and a clothing collection comprising of dresses, leggings, jackets, skirts, t-shirts, scarves and tops. The website also stocks a range of beauty and cosmetics including body butters, body washes, candles, scents, soaps, lip glosses, bronzers, blush, eyeshadow, nailpolish and brushes. All the above products are branded “Mischa Barton” with Mischa’s mum and manager, Nuala Barton, having a hand in the design process.
Barton is currently attached to star in Into the Darkness opposite Toby Hemingway and John Schneider. Production is expected to begin mid-2012.