The Iconic Child Actors That Once Saved Rachel Bilson From A Swarm Of Fans

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In the turn-of-the-century days of drama television, there was nothing like Fox Network's "The O.C." With its amazing soundtrack and lavish California lifestyle, complete with early 2000s fashion, the show was an instant hit, especially among teenagers. Rachel Bilson, who played It-girl Summer Roberts, had only done a few guest episodes on other productions before becoming a main player in the drama that ran from 2003 to 2007, meaning it truly was a meteoric rise to success for the actor.

During the early aughts, when "The O.C." took off, social media was nothing like we know it to be today. Facebook didn't launch until a year after the television show premiered. Bilson has spoken out before about how social media would have made the whole experience much more chaotic. "It would have been an even crazier experience, being young and kind of like getting the attention from the show," she told E! Online. Still, while people weren't posting about the celeb on Facebook or X, formerly known as Twitter, she wasn't immune to hoards of fans and photographers following her wherever she went. "Obviously, it was like a big time for paparazzi," Bilson said.

This was especially true when she went on another hugely popular show of the day, MTV's "Total Request Live" — better known as "TRL." So crazed was the mob of fans that Bilson actually had to be saved by two fellow actors who had been in the biz much longer than she had — the Olsen twins.

Twins to the rescue

Rachel Bilson opened up about what it was really like to be on such a hit show in the early 2000s for "Welcome to the O.C.," a book that lifts the curtain on the megahit television show. As retold by PEOPLE, Bilson and her boyfriend at the time, co-star Adam Brody, were attending "TRL" in 2004 along with none other than the Olsen twins, Ashley and Mary Kate. Brody was just as huge a star then, and Bilson recalls him "getting swarmed by a mass mob."

The "Take Two" actor was frozen in her tracks at the Times Square studio until Ashley and Mary Kate "rescued me and threw me in their car," she said. "I left Brody behind because I was so nervous and didn't know what to do." She was so overwhelmed that her boyfriend's peril might have temporarily slipped her mind; she admitted the Olsen twins "were like, 'Don't you need to get your boyfriend?' And I was like, 'Oh, yeah, we've got to go get him.'"

At another point in the tell-all book, Brody stated that he couldn't recall many instances of "Brodymania" with out-of-control fans, explaining that he "felt in a bubble." But the incident definitely stood out in Bilson's mind, potentially because two iconic child actors swooped in to save the day. Mary Kate and Ashley had a practical novel of credits under their belt at that time compared to Bilson.

Times have changed for Rachel Bilson

"The O.C." ended in 2007, around a year after Rachel Bilson and her on and off-screen boyfriend, Adam Brody, broke up in real life. Over its four seasons, the show portrayed story arcs with which most viewers could identify. That being said, Bilson, now a mom, isn't quite ready to let her kids watch more grownup fare. Speaking on the podcast "Betches Moms," in 2021, she said her daughter Briar, who was six at the time, needs to be "at least 35" before she watches her mom on "The O.C."

But Bilson is far from being ashamed of the show. In 2017, she confessed that she wasn't opposed to a reboot of the former Fox sensation, telling E! News, "I'm always open to things. I don't know what it would look like with our characters being old now." In the finale of "The O.C.," Summer (played by Bilson) and Seth (played by Brody) get married. "I'm sure she has kids with Seth. I don't know! She's on the beach," Bilson joked.

It's not far off Bilson's life as an adult, as she is a mom who resides near the beaches in sunny Los Angeles, California. But it is wild to think that it's been over 20 years since the generation-defining show premiered, and all the changes that have happened during that time (i.e., that newly launched company called Facebook turned out to be the largest social networking platform in the world).