Actress Mischa Barton has broken her silence about her “terrifying” 2009 breakdown, insisting her life simply spiraled out of control as she struggled to adjust to Hollywood stardom. The London-born star rocketed to fame in 2003, at the age of 16, when she landed a lead role on TV drama The O.C., and she quickly became a staple on the Los Angeles party scene.
Barton explains to People magazine, “Almost overnight it was like this switch had been turned on. It was like this fascination switch on all of us (The O.C. castmates), aimed especially at me. We thought, ‘Work hard, play hard.’ It was a train I could not get off of. When you’re young, you can do it, but after a while, it’s going to come crashing down on you.”
Barton’s hard-partying led to a charge of driving under the influence (DUI) in 2007 and a court-ordered stint in rehab, but it wasn’t until 2009 that her life really came crashing down when her family staged an intervention and she was hospitalized and placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold.
The actress reveals she suffered a “full-on breakdown” due to stress and the “enormous” pressure of fame, and although the situation was “terrifying,” Barton is adamant she meant nothing by a threat she once made to take her own life. She explains, “I was never suicidal, I was just overworked and depressed. But one slip of the tongue in a heightened moment and you find yourself in that situation (under psychiatric hold).
“It was an eye-opener. 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 27 and drug-free, Barton refuses to classify herself as an addict and reveals she still allows herself a drink every now and then. She adds, “I have a glass of wine with dinner. It’s just moderation, really… I’ve learned a lot. I’m stronger now, and I’m excited for what’s ahead.”
The admission is interesting, especially in light of her recent photo shoot with photographer Tyler Shields for his upcoming book the “The Dirty Side Of Glamour,” which addresses “the different perceptions of what fame really is and what it does.”
For the shoot Barton appears to have channeled Sylvia Plath, who notoriously took her own life by sticking her head in an oven at age 31.
Shields told the Hollywood Reporter, “People think that fame is so glamorous, but go and work on a set for twenty hours a day — you’re in the mud and you’re freakin’ cold, and you haven’t seen the person you love in six months. There are prices to pay for all of this fame, all of these things that people think they want. I just like to show all of that.”
The two seem to be in agreement. Does this make Barton’s Plath impression more palatable?
“The Dirty Side Of Glamour” will be out November 12th and Shields’ show at the Guy Hepner gallery in Los Angeles will be open to the public on November 11.
Mischa Barton’s interview with People is on stands Friday, 10.18.