Autumn Reeser Reflects on Her Time in ‘The O.C.’

Posted: July 14, 2010 in awesome fanvid alert, interviews, the o.c.

Season four of The O.C. is what I like to call the show’s comeback season. No, it didn’t bounce back in the ratings. It actually ended up getting canceled. No, Marissa didn’t come back from the dead. But season four was the closest the show ever got back to the glory of season one. The writing was funny and clever. The storylines were charming and heartfelt. And the acting was top-notch, improved by time and, for many of the actors, three years in these characters’ skin. Autumn Reeser didn’t have that luxury. She only joined the show as Taylor Townsend in season three, but her smart, quirky performance soon led to a series regular gig and an upgrade from competitive rival to Ryan’s (Ben McKenzie) love interest. Last Thursday, I chatted with Reeser about the “surreal” experience of becoming an O.C. star, what made Taylor special, the never-saw-it-coming-pairing of Taylor and Ryan, her favorite episode and much more! She also shared her picks for who she’d like to play on O.C. creator Josh Schwartz’ other shows, Chuck and Gossip Girl.

I thought Taylor was a great TV character because she didn’t fit into a box and she was very aware of what her faults were, but she accepted them.

Exactly. I feel like there’s a lot of girls out there who could really relate to her, who hadn’t seen themselves on TV in that way. I loved that about her. I loved that she made no apologies for who she was even though she wasn’t what all the magazines said was OK. She was like, “I’m still valid. And I’m awesome. And I know I’m odd, and that’s OK.” I really loved her. It was a really great character.

When did you first get the feeling that Taylor was really integrating into the core group and that she’d be sticking around?

Definitely when they told me I was being made into a series regular — that’s big — before season four. But I think the first time I really felt like a really, truly integrated part of the cast was – There was a New Year’s episode where the characters all drove out to the desert to like an alien rave or something. The four of us were driving in the car in the desert. I remember looking around and going, “How did I get here? What?!” It was a very surreal moment. I was like, “How did this happen? Two years ago, would I ever have said I’d be sitting here today? No.” That whole episode was surreal for me. The rave… Everyone’s dressed like aliens. My parents came to visit to set that day. It’s just a very, very weird experience on that episode. It was very trippy.

You were basically one of the show’s two female leads in season four. Did you have any idea when you signed on?

No clue. Could never in a million years have guessed that’s where the writers would take it. I’m sure there are fans that are still unhappy about that, but I really liked the character and I liked the direction they took the storyline in season four.

I really liked the tone of season four a lot.

I did too. It was lighthearted in a way. I personally think when you can mix comedy and drama, interweave them together, it makes each of them play stronger. The drama, it sneaks up on you then – those poignant moments. Like the dream sequence episode – “The Chrismukk-huh?” – where Ryan thinks he sees Marissa at the airport. It’s very affecting because they use those moments sparingly, so when they do use them, they get to you.

I really came to love Taylor and Ryan, but at first glance, they were a very out of the blue, odd pairing.

Right?! [Laughs]

How did you react when they told you this is the direction we’re going to go in season four and these two are going to end up together?

I find out when I read the scripts.

Josh [Schwartz] didn’t give you any warning?

Not particularly. God, it was a while ago, so I don’t totally remember. I remember being surprised with each script. Going, “Oh, interesting. OK.” I think it was the sleep therapy episode that I was like, “OK. I see how they could make this work.” I liked it. They seemed an odd pairing at first, but I think they each bring each other something. Ryan takes everything too seriously and, sometimes, Taylor doesn’t take things seriously enough. I think they meet somewhere nicely in the middle.

All of a sudden, you and Ben [McKenzie] had to develop this romantic chemistry. What was it like working with him now as his love interest?

Oh, he’s adorable. He’s so sweet. He’s a great actor. We had a great time. It was fun.

The series finale had this great shared look between Taylor and Ryan. It was pretty much left up to the viewer to decide what happened to them. Where do you think they are?

I feel almost like I don’t want to comment on it because I do want it to be something that remains open to the viewer. I think people are invested and want to believe… It goes one way or the other. I think I’d rather just leave it up to them.

Another thing that always sticks out in my mind about that season is Ryan’s White Snake-like fantasies about Taylor. Did you have fun shooting those? (Check out this fanvid set to “SexyBaby” to see Autumn in action.)

Oh my God! A blast. So fun. I loved shooting that episode. I had so much fun, it was ridiculous.

Was it like living out a fantasy of your own?

Oh my God, yeah! And I shot it on my birthday. I shot the whole rollerskating sequence on my birthday. I was like, “This is awesome!” I had a great day. They made me a cake and I was wearing rollerskates. Can life get much better?

Do you have a favorite episode?

Somebody just wrote on Twitter today about the earthquake episode. I was like, “Oh my God!” I loved that episode. That was fun. I loved Taylor’s whole surprise, weird obsession with guns. [Laughs] I thought it was so spot on and such a surprise, as well. I loved that. I was like, “Oh, I know just how to play this.” I think that episode was really fun.

Burning question: Do you really speak French? Because you sounded fluent on the show.

I do. I was a total francophile in high school. I had French exchange students. My best girl friend and I saved up and went to France for a month when we graduated. My sister actually speaks much better French than I do. She lived over there for a couple of years. I love the French language. I do not, however, speak Latin or Spanish or Korean. I always felt like Taylor spoke probably eight languages fluently and if we’d gone another season, I would have loved to see them explore that. I think there’s a lot of humor to be found there.

If you could guest star on either one of Josh Schwartz’ shows – Chuck or Gossip Girl – which one would it be and who would you play?

If it was Chuck, I’d want to work at the Nerd Herd. On Gossip Girl, I would just want to wear some fabulous clothes. I’ll do anything on Gossip Girl. It’s all about the fabulous wardrobes there. To get to go work in New York and wear those clothes…

They’re filming in Paris right now. That’d be perfect for you.

They’re in Paris?! Come on! OK, I want to be whatever character gets to go to Paris with them. Wow. Amazing.

Autumn can currently be seen on Entourage Sundays on HBO. Read about her role here. I’ll have more from our chat about her new show No Ordinary Family next week.

  1. Eolivet says:

    Great interview (and “get”) — she sounds like a real sweetheart. 🙂 Thanks for posting! 😀

  2. […] Comments Eolivet on Autumn Reeser Reflects on Her …Townwood #408 b/c af… on Autumn Reeser Reflects on Her …Autumn Reeser Reflec… […]

  3. Reblogged this on The Avenue and commented:

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