November 20, 2006 12:00 PM

You love to hate her, and now you sort of have to pity her. Clarke, 37, is the FOX drama’s grasping Julie Cooper, whose daughter (Mischa Barton) was killed off in a shocker in last season’s finale.

ON LIFE POST-MISCHA In the beginning it felt like something was really missing. It’s funny—my friends were asking me how I was, they felt like I’d checked out. There was quite a sadness there….

ON PLAYING A (RHYMES WITH RICH) As we’ve gone along I’ve always treated Julie as a human being just trying to survive. Julie is more complex now than ever—plus now she’s motivated by revenge.

ON HER OWN CHILDHOOD NEAR ORANGE COUNTY I grew up in Dana Point, a few miles south of where our characters live on the show. I knew it was a beautiful area, but very few people were aware of this coastline and its specialness. Being on a show that allows the world to know what Orange County is—it’s been a surreal experience.

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