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Mischa Barton Says Her Dynamic With Mom Nuala Quinn-Barton ‘Just Wasn’t Healthy’

Feature Mischa Barton Opens Up Losing A Lot of Family Members When Reevaluating Toxic Relationships
Mischa BartonHannes Magerstaedt/Getty Images

Mischa Barton is opening up about her complicated relationship with her family, including mom Nuala Quinn-Barton.

During the Wednesday, February 21, episode of the “Call Her Daddy” podcast, host Alex Cooper asked Barton, 38, about the dynamic that caused her to fire Quinn-Barton, 71, as her manager.

“It just wasn’t healthy,” said Barton, who has been working as an actress since childhood, with Quinn-Barton serving as her manager for years. “I’ve really learned to prioritize my chosen family and the people who have really, actually been there for me. I don’t rely on any one particular family member anymore. I’ve learned that for my own happiness.”

The actress added that she thinks familial relationships can be “the most toxic” due to the sense of loyalty owed.

The OC Where Are They Now Mischa Barton

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“You feel like you can say or do whatever you want to somebody because you’re related. And I’ve found that those [relationships] have been the hardest for me to really understand,” she explained. “I’m completely independent now and I do everything for me, and it’s led to my sobriety and happiness and I’ve had to watch other people crumble and it’s been hard to watch. But I am just grateful that I’ve been able to find the people in my life who have been there for me consistently. … Unfortunately, I’ve had to lose a lot of family members along the way.”

Mischa Barton and Mother Nuala Barton
Mischa Barton and Nuala Quinn-Barton Denise Truscello/WireImage

Us Weekly has reached out to Quinn-Barton for comment.

Barton, who was catapulted to superstardom in the early aughts for her role in The O.C., sued her mother in 2015, claiming that she withheld earnings from her and exploited her fame.

Barton’s attorney Alex Weingarten told Us in a statement at the time that the lawsuit arose from “the tragic tale of a greedy stage mother posing as a talent manager who, instead of acting in the best interest of her daughter/client, schemed to defraud her unsuspecting victim” and “siphon her daughter’s hard-earned money” despite having “absolutely no experience or training” as a talent manager.

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Quinn-Barton subsequently called the allegations “false and defamatory” in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter and the suit was dismissed in 2016.

Barton nodded to the legal battle during Wednesday’s chat when Cooper asked how she’s able to trust people after experiencing betrayal within her family.

Mischa Barton Opens Up Losing A Lot of Family Members When Reevaluating Toxic Relationships
Mischa Barton Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

“I’ve been stolen from and lied to in so many different ways over the course of the last 10, 15 years especially. And it’s only in the last two, three years even, that I feel like I have really taken responsibility for it and for myself and been like, ‘You know what? The only thing that I can do is just be happy, healthy and sober and working out.’ … I had given up for a while there. It makes me emotional because I felt really alone. It really has been [about] just cutting people out of my life, truly.”

As for how she’s healed from her past, Barton credited “a lot of therapy” and finding her own voice.

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“I’ve found my strength. When I was younger, I thought I was going to be dead by 27. … I really didn’t give a s–t. I was reckless. I was over it. I didn’t really want to be doing stuff for other people anymore. I didn’t want to be the person that everybody needed to be making the money,” she recalled. “I got to my thirties and I was like, ’S–t, I’m still here. I’m still going and I’m stronger than I was then.’”

Noting that she’s “been to court” to fight for her “rights” and “freedoms,” Barton said that her strength was borne out of the unfair treatment she’s faced.

“I can’t stand injustices in life and I really can’t stand when people do take advantage of people. And I think that’s where the strength really came from is just like, ‘You know what? I’m not going to take this and yeah, f–k that. I’m not going to sit by and watch these people do that.’”

More than 20 years after The O.C. premiered in 2003, Barton is still acting. She recently starred in the 2023 film Invitation to a Murder and appeared in season 39 of the Australian soap opera Neighbours.

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