Last Sunday, the creators of The O.C. gathered in the State Theater to discuss the show at the ATX Television Festival. The show's creator, Josh Schwartz (Gossip Girl), was joined by executive producers Stephanie Savage (The Astronaut Wives Club) and Leila Gerstein (Hart of Dixie), as well as music supervisor Alexandra Patsavas (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire).
It's been nine years since the classic rom-com drama aired its final episode, but the creators still think about it just as much as the fans do. Here are some insightful secrets they finally let out of the bag:
1. The Cohens Were Originally The Newmans
Originally, Fox was "medium okay" with the idea of starring a family of "whiny Jews." They were originally called the Newmans, since the network was less than thrilled about Seth Cohen's (Adam Brody) prominent role as a neurotic Jewish character.
Stephanie Savage joked that the Cohens became more and more Jewish as The O.C. developed.
2. Seth Cohen Was Largely Inspired By Josh Schwartz
While approaching the topic of Seth, Savage said:
"Seth Cohen was Josh's way into the show and it was also what made the show in many ways unique. Because it was unique, it was challenging for the network who wasn’t used to seeing a character like that in their glossy primetime soap."
Josh Schwartz had revealed the source of his inspiration in the past, but he finally admitted he never celebrated Chrismukkah. Why was it added to the show? Schwartz said the made-up holiday emphasized “the idea that Sandy had married the ultimate shiksa goddess.”
He jokingly added, "It was a way to get even more presents!”
3. Peter Gallagher Was The First Actor To Be Cast
Schwarz revealed that Peter Gallagher was the first actor cast on the show as Sandy Cohen.
“We wanted to send the message that this was a show that could be for adults, as much as for kids.”
4. Olivia Wilde Was Almost Cast As Marissa Cooper
Schwartz shocked Mischa Barton fans by disclosing that Olivia Wilde was nearly cast as Marissa Cooper. Instead, Wilde played Seth and Marissa's love interest, Alex Kelly, in Season 2. According to Schwartz, why did they opt for Barton instead?
"Marissa was obviously a character who Ryan needs to save. And Olivia Wilde needs no saving. She's pretty tough."
5. The Creators Still 'Wrestle' With Marissa's Death
After bringing up the topic of Marissa Cooper's highly mourned, tragic death, Schwartz got real:
“It’s complicated. There were a lot of factors involved and it was something we really wrestled with. There were reasons both creative and just in terms for the show itself and where we were with the network."
Schwartz admitted they received a lot of "anger and fan art," despite the most vocal people who rejoiced and even celebrated the character's death.
6. There Could Have Been A 'Luke & Anna' Relationship
The creators discussed looking back on the loss of characters loved by the fans. These roles included Anna Stern (Samaire Armstrong) and Luke Ward (Chris Carmack), who left the show after Season 1. When Schwarz discussed all the wasted potential, he brought something up that no fan had probably ever thought of:
"There were a lot of Luke stories we left on the table, Anna stories and so on. In retrospect, we still talk about the possibilities of a Luke-Anna relationship."
7. The Title The O.C. Was Ironic
Both the title The O.C. and Luke Ward's iconic line to Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) "Welcome to the O.C., b*tch,” were meant to be ironic to the show's creators. They were both jokingly inspired by Schwartz's encounter with USC "species known as the water polo player" during his college years.
“When I was at USC, there were all these waterpolo guys that refer to Orange County as ‘the O.C.’…as if they were referring to ‘the LBC.'"