Mischa Barton ‘really happy’ to be a queer icon, as she appears in Neighbours reboot

Mischa Barton stars as Reece Sinclair in Neighbours.

As Neighbours returns to our screens, familiar faces such as Mackenzie Hargreaves (Georgie Stone), Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis) and Dr Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) will be moving back into Ramsay Street after a year-long hiatus.

But with a new era comes fresh faces too, including American screen star Mischa Barton, best known for her lead role as the troubled socialite Marissa Cooper in three seasons of the teen drama The O.C.

She’s joining the cast for a stint as incognito businesswoman Reece Sinclair who clashes with devilish business tycoon Robinson, and strikes up a passionate affair with Lassiters Hotel employee Byron Stone (Xavier Molyneux).

“It’s an iconic show and so many people are hardcore fans. I felt this was a great role and great opportunity,” Barton tells PinkNews.

Olivia Wilde as Alex (L) and Mischa Barton as Marissa (R) in The O.C.
Mischa Barton as Marissa (R) with Olivia Wilde as Alex in The O.C. (Fox)

“I thought it would be a good time to Australia, do a stint on it and have my moment. Reece Sinclair was written with me in mind and they were very open to making sure it was tailored appropriately.

“The production were very cool and open about switching up any real Australianisms in there so we could Americanise her and gave me leeway with that too.”

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Barton holds a special place in the hearts of many in LGBTQ+ community for her role in The O.C.

In a ground-breaking plot for the time, Marissa shared a kiss and enjoyed a brief relationship with bisexual Alex (Olivia Wilde), during the second season of the California-based series.

As for how she feels about being a gay icon, she says: “That’s awesome, that makes me really happy. I don’t know what to say except: as you get older, the more you realise that people hold a character like that so close to their hearts and genuinely still idolise it.

“It’s flattering and it’s very nice to see.”

And she has a message for any LGBTQ+ fans tuning back into Neighbours. “This show does have a little bit of everything, and some fun, crazy storylines. That’s lovely to hear and I’m really excited.”

As for what we can expect from Reece, co-star Dennis has hinted at the dynamic between her and his character.

“It’s tense and anger-filled. I can’t give away too much more but we’re at loggerheads quite a lot of the time,” he tells PinkNews.

Neighbours airs Monday to Thursday on Channel 10 in Australia and on Amazon Freevee in the UK and US.