What to Watch Tonight

Nine reasons we’d follow Mischa Barton into the Dark

When you see Mischa Barton, do you start quietly humming Phantom Planet’s “California”?

Us, too. But the actress has moved on from The O.C. Her forwarding address: indie films.

Namely, I Will Follow You into the Dark, a cerebral horror-slash-romance, courtesy of newish writer/director Mark Edwin Robinson. Barton plays Sophia Monet, a woman who’s simultaneously dealing with endings (the death of her parents) and beginnings (a new love). Ryan Eggold (The Blacklist, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby) co-stars, and the chemistry between them is as striking as Eduardo Enrique Mayén’s cinematography is dreamy.

We caught up with the starlet — and found nine reasons to forget Marissa Cooper once and for all.

She calls her co-star darling.
The sparks between Barton and Eggold could melt stone. How did they get to that point? Sincerity and music. “Ryan was lovely; he was a total darling, and we really got along. Chemistry varies. With us, it was that he is really easygoing and funny, sweet and sincere — and sincerity counts for a lot in actors. He wasn’t putting up pretenses. I gave him the music I liked and he gave me the music he liked. You know, we kind of exchanged ideas, and he was just very sincere in his approach to the role, and how important it was for this love to be portrayed.”

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They say O.C.; she says, “Okay?”
Barton had no idea the teen drama was going to become a phenomenon. She thought she’d be in L.A. for a New York minute, then head back east. “Getting into television is something that I never thought I would do when I was young, but the opportunity arose and kind of came out of left field. It was kind of like, ‘Oh, I am doing this,’ and suddenly I’m being thrust into a television show. Little did I know when I went to take the job with a good paycheck, it was going to become popular.”

She has mood swings.
Barton’s character surfs the entire emotional spectrum. Most of the time, though, she’s floating in the dark end. “I like moody characters. And characters with layers. I liked [Sophia] as a character, and it was a short, quick shoot, so I didn’t have to be moody for too long. Carrying all those layers about what her constant struggle is at that point — losing both her parents in quick succession, and what that had done to her psyche, and where she’s at on love. I can relate to a lot of the stuff she was going through, if not directly, indirectly.”

She can dance.
There’s an intimate scene in which Adam watches Sophia during her dance class. And Barton looks like a pro. “I did maybe twenty classes. I felt really into it. (It was modern and jazz.) It’s tricky, because you’ve got a completely professional group of dancers and then … you. It’s imperative that [the audience] sees it’s something [Sophia’s] passionate about.”

what to watch tonight!

She knows good horror.
And sticks to the classics. “The original Amityville Horror, Rosemary’s Baby, The Shining. Any of Hitchcock’s work. I think what scary movies really need is a creative tone, an interesting slant — and it’s a genre where you can be a lot more stylized. I find the ones that really pull that off are the Hitchcock films. I love the ’70s classics; they have a lot of style, a lot more suspense, and are less straightforward horror.”

She answers to London calling.
Barton splits her time between L.A. and London. She even said “telly” during our chat. Other thoughts on the city: “London definitely has huge amounts of culture and beautiful parks; it can take you forever to get around from one place to another, so it just depends on what you are doing in your day. In the summer, there is no better city.”

But she’s a New Yorker at heart.
“New York really is home. I love the city; that’s probably my favorite place to be. I still love Central Park. No matter what happens in your day, you can’t go wrong with going for a walk in the park. I am a huge fan of the Plaza. I’m a huge fan of FAO Schwarz. I went to school off of Columbus Circle.”

what to watch tonight!

She’s not afraid of Alaska.
So what if natives get around by putter planes and are outnumbered by four-legged creatures? Barton’s starring in and producing her next project there. “Butterfly Love. It’s going to film up in Alaska. That’s going to be early next year. It’s a really great script for a girl, a strong female role.”

She shares her home with Diablo.
Which is the name of her cat. “I have three dogs and two cats. Two ragdoll cats. I love animals. I would get more if I didn’t feel I’ve capped out on what I can give. They all need so much attention. But I have a Pomeranian mix, mostly rescue dogs: Ziggy Stardust, Charles Dickens, and Barbie Barton. Then Angelo and Diablo, the cats.”

I Will Follow You into the Dark is available now on demand. For more entertainment, flip through our monthly must-sees, The Download, or GoWatchIt channels.