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Every actor has to start somewhere, and a whole lot of young talent back in the mid 2000s got some of their first roles on Fox’s hit teen drama The O.C. While some have gone on to headline in more TV shows, others have mega-blockbuster movies and Oscar-winning films on their credits. Read on for 16 stars that got their starts on The O.C.
Ben McKenzie – Ben McKenzie was the face of The O.C. as Ryan Atwood, the good kid from the wrong side of the tracks. Since The O.C. ended, McKenzie has moved on to other major TV roles including Officer Ben Sherman on Southland and James Gordon on Gotham.
Willa Holland – Before she was Agnes Andrews on Gossip Girl and Thea Queen on Arrow, Willa Holland replaced another now-famous actress in the role of Kaitlin Cooper, Marissa’s younger sister. She played Kaitlin for the last two seasons of the show.
Cam Gigandet – The O.C. fans learned to hate Cam Gigandet as Kevin Volchok. Volchok was pretty much the worst and responsible for Marissa’s death. After The O.C., Gigandet went on to play lots of other handsome scumbags like James in Twilight.
Olivia Wilde – In season 2, Marissa falls for Alex Kelly, the manager of the Bait Shop. Alex Kelly is played by a young Olivia Wilde in one of her first major roles. Since then, she has appeared in TRON: Legacy, Cowboys & Aliens, and Rush.
Chris Carmack – Marissa’s first boyfriend Luke Ward is probably best remembered for the show’s infamous line, “Welcome to the O.C., bitch!” Since playing Luke, Chris Carmack has appeared in a number of guest roles on Desperate Housewives, CSI: NY, and Smallville, but his biggest role since then is Will Lexington on Nashville with Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere.
Rachel Bilson – As Marissa’s best friend and Seth’s unrequited crush, Summer Roberts was at the center of the action in The O.C., and Rachel Bilson added depth to this insecure high school queen bee. She didn’t have many credits before The O.C., but after the show ended, she appeared in Jumper, How I Met Your Mother and Hart of Dixie.
Shannon Lucio – Lindsay Gardner, the love-child of Caleb Nichol and Renee Wheeler, is only in the show’s second season, but she shakes up the show dynamic with paternity tests and her brief romance with Ryan. Actress Shannon Lucio only had a few single-episode guest starring roles on a few TV shows before The O.C., but she has kept very busy with running parts on Prison Break, Grey’s Anatomy, Agents of SHIELD, and True Blood.
Logan Marshall-Green – Trey Atwood, Ryan Atwood’s older brother, was originally played by Bradley Stryker, but he was recast in season 2. Logan Marshall-Green played him in season 2 and 3, and while his name might not be instantly recognizable, his face is familiar from Prometheus and Across the Universe.
Chris Pratt –Chris Pratt appeared on The O.C. as Summer’s obnoxious college buddy Che. He gets Summer kicked out of college for freeing animals being experimented on, including a very sweet bunny. The O.C. was one of his first major roles, and his career has been on the rise ever since with major roles in Moneyball, Parks and Recreation, Her, The Lego Movie, and Guardians of the Galaxy.
Nikki Reed – Nikki Reed is only in six episodes in season 3, but like Lindsay Gardner in season 2, Sadie Campbell manages to do a lot in her time on the show. After The O.C., Nikki Reed found steady work in the Twilight franchise as Rosalie Hale and also appeared in In Your Eyes and Intramural.
Shailene Woodley – As the first Kaitlin Cooper, Shailene Woodley didn’t get a lot of screen time, but now she is one of the most bankable young actresses working in Hollywood. She appeared with George Clooney in The Descendants and Miles Teller in The Spectacular Now, and she stars in the popular Divergent series.
Chris Brown – Grammy-winner Chris Brown tested the waters in acting playing Will Tutt. In season 4, Will Tutt is a romantic interest for Kaitlin Cooper.
Jackson Rathbone – Jackson Rathbone is another The O.C. alum who moved on to the Twilight franchise shortly after the show was over, where he played Jasper. On The O.C., he was Kaitlin’s ex-boyfriend Justin.
Amber Heard – She was only in one episode of The O.C. and credited only as Salesgirl, but Amber Heard became a big deal after her appearance on the show. She appeared in Pineapple Express, Zombieland, and Machete Kills, and she is also in the upcoming Magic Mike XXL and The Danish Girl.
Max Greenfield – Audiences might have forgotten he played Young Sandy Cohen in season 4, but they will remember him as Leo D’Amato from Veronica Mars, Nick Pepper from Ugly Betty, and Schmidt from New Girl.
Lucy Hale – Hadley Hawthorne, Kaitlin’s roommate, was one of Lucy Hale’s first roles on TV, and she has gone on to starring in one of ABC Family’s biggest shows ever, Pretty Little Liars.