After years of being written about on Perez Hilton’s celebrity gossip website and feeling like a target of unfair scrutiny, Mischa Barton confronted the controversial blogger on Monday night’s episode of The Hills: New Beginnings.
When The OC star joined the MTV reboot, Barton told Heidi and Spencer Pratt that she resented Hilton for the negative blog posts he used to write about her at the height of her fame in the early 2000s. Barton felt bullied, saying Hilton "was the face of a certain brand of hate."
On Monday's episode, Barton got a chance to speak her mind when Spencer invited Hilton to a “welcome home” celebration for Stephanie Pratt, who’d recently returned to Los Angeles from London.
In a tense, awkward conversation, Barton told Hilton she finds the “bullying that [he] did for so long to so many young girls ... hard to let go.”
“It’s not just about the body-shaming or outing people who are gay before they’re really out of the closet,” Barton added. “I just can’t really accept the apology entirely on behalf of how I truly feel.”
Hilton responded by telling Barton he knows he was wrong in the past and respected her speaking up for other people.
“If I could go back in time, and I say this on my kid’s life, I swear if I could go back in time and do things differently, I would,” he said.
But Barton challenged the celebrity blogger, asking, “You would actually go back in time and change all of those people’s careers you messed with, all of the people you outed?”
“I just swore on my kid’s life and you’re shitting on me now?” Hilton snapped back before storming away.
In an interview with BuzzFeed News, Barton acknowledged that she “definitely let him have it,” but said "it felt really good."
“When Heidi kind of set that up, it was interesting. But I just feel like there was a lot that was left unsaid for other people,” Barton told BuzzFeed News.
She added that she went into the conversation thinking Hilton would apologize and react the way he did instead of saying how he really felt.
“I expect people to try and shy away from these things,” Barton said.
Over the years, Barton has been through her fair share of public struggles with mental health, addiction, and most recently a legal battle with her ex-boyfriend because she said he threatened to release intimate photos and videos of her. The 33-year-old also said she’s struggled with body-image issues, none of which were helped by Hilton and other celebrity gossip publications that portrayed her hardships in a negative light.
“I am not even a person who feels overly bullied myself per se, even though he was a bully. I just feel that I don’t like that whole culture,” she said, referring to tabloids.
For Barton, joining the cast of The Hills: New Beginnings meant being able to own her own narrative.
“It's definitely about taking ownership of my story,” she said. “You will see different aspects of everybody open up and be vulnerable, and that's just the way it goes with something like this. You are vulnerable, and nobody is not willing to share. There are good days and there are bad days, and everybody has their kind of threshold for where they feel comfortable sharing things.”
The biggest hurdle for Barton has been learning to navigate the drama that the original Hills cast had with one another before she was even in the picture. She said that the ease of filming for the show “depends on the grouping, depends on who’s coming to that event or to that lunch.”
“I just really had to get used to the way people's personalities run in certain situations and what to expect so that it wasn't quite so jarring,” Barton said.
Barton’s on-screen confrontation with Hilton is far from the last bit of drama viewers will see on the reboot of The Hills this season. According to the actor, the rest of the cast had a lot of “unresolved” issues with one another — from situations between Brody Jenner and Spencer, Spencer and his sister Stephanie, and reality TV’s favorite will-they-or-won’t-they kind-of couple, Audrina Patridge and Justin “Bobby” Brescia — that come to a head on the show.
“I have seen many situations in my life and have been through a lot,” Barton said. “And I do tend to err on trying to be the voice of reason in defusing situations more these days.”