O.C. Stars' Summer Break
BACK TO SCHOOL
The O.C. castmates (from left) Benjamin McKenzie, 26; Mischa Barton, 19; Adam Brody, 25; and Rachel Bilson, 24, hit the beach recently in Torrance, Calif., to film a scene for the third season of their FOX show. "I was so excited when we got back; it was like a big reunion," says Barton of returning to the show in July. Adds Bilson: "It's hard to say it's work. You have a good time with your friends."
Before heading back to the set, Brody played Hollywood club Troubadour with his indie-rock band, Big Japan, on July 6. There, he had a built-in fan base: costars Barton and Bilson, his real-life girlfriend. But the drummer, whose five-piece group released the EP Music for Dummies this summer, isn't ready to headline arenas just yet. "I wouldn't want (a major-label record deal) unless we were good enough," he says.
Mischa Barton left behind her California-girl threads for romantic period garb to film the 14th-century-set Decameron with Star Wars' Hayden Christensen in Italy (in June). The star also hit the Cannes Film Festival in May to promote the movie. "It's so beautiful," she says of the South of France. "Nothing really fazes you."
Benjamin McKenzie took his parents – Frances, a poet-writer, and Pete, an attorney – to the Aug. 1 New York City premiere of his first feature film, the indie drama Junebug. In the movie, he plays a guy who marries young and is living a dead-end life. But in his own future, he says, "I plan on being a middle-aged husband. I'm not ready for marriage or kids or anything like that."
Bilson and Brody – who have been dating for almost two years – spent the summer hanging out in L.A. together – along with their pit-bull terrier, Penny Lane. But the couple (in Hollywood on July 19) also squeezed in work: Bilson shot The Last Kiss with Zach Braff, and Brody filmed In the Land of Women with Meg Ryan in Canada.
After wrapping up Decameron in Europe, Barton unwound at hot L.A. clubs including Mood and the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel's Tropicana Bar. And she made the scene with pals Nicole Richie (left) and Lindsay Lohan at the Aug. 17 opening of Richie's fiancé Adam Goldstein's new Hollywood hot spot, LAX.
Brody strolled the red carpet on June 7 at the L.A. premiere of the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie movie Mr. amp Mrs. Smith, in which he had a supporting role. The actor "is having his moment," says O.C. co-executive producer Stephanie Savage. "The giggling, the pointing – girls freak out over him."
After more than a year together (and a recent jaunt to Saint-Tropez), Barton and boyfriend Brandon Davis split in late July. Earlier, the actress (with her ex-beau in Rome in May) had told PEOPLE that "everything is great with us." And, she contends, the breakup was amicable: "We remain good friends."
On Aug. 9, Bilson celebrated being the September cover girl of Lucky magazine with a soiree at the Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood. "I'm very flattered," she said of the gig. "Everyone said that September is an important month, and I'm so grateful to do it." On hand to fete their costar: Brody and Barton.
This summer, Barton adopted an abandoned mixed-breed dog named Charlie from The Amanda Foundation, an L.A. animal-rescue group. She even takes Charlie (in L.A. on July 28) to the O.C. set: During a day filming in Malibu, "she had her dog there, splashing around in the ocean," says show creator Josh Schwartz.
BFFs Barton and Bilson (at the Lucky party Aug. 9) devoted part of their summer to one of their favorite activities – shopping. One of their top spots? The Hillary Rush boutique in L.A. "They both have a great eye," says Rush. "And sometimes they buy the same thing." Now that's compatibility.