Rachel Sarah Bilson (born August 25,
1981) is an American actress. Bilson grew up in a California show business
family, and made her television debut in 2003, subsequently becoming
well-known for playing Summer Roberts on the prime time drama series The
O.C. Bilson made her film debut in the 2006 film The Last Kiss and starred
in the 2008 action/sci-fi film Jumper.
Bilson was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of Janice (née Stango), a sex
therapist, and Danny Bilson, a writer/director/producer. Bilson's father
is Jewish and her mother, a native of Philadelphia, is Italian American.
Bilson's father comes from a show business family; her great-grandfather,
George Bilson, (born in Leeds, West Yorkshire, UK) was the head of the
trailer department at RKO Pictures, her Brooklyn-born great-grandmother,
Hattie Bilson, was a screenwriter, and her grandfather, Bruce Bilson, is a
film director. Bilson's parents divorced during her childhood, and in
1997, her father remarried Heather Medway, an actress and the mother of
Bilson's half-sisters Hattie and Rosemary.
Bilson has been noted as having a "self-destructive, rebellious period"
during her teen years. When she was 14, she and a group of her brother's
friends were involved in a car accident, a head-on collision with another
car. As a result, Bilson was unconscious for a few days, has a scar above
her right eye, and sometimes suffers from migraines and memory loss. She
has stated that the experience "changed" her, encouraging her to "stop...
getting into trouble" and stopping her from "going down that road". Bilson
graduated from Walter Reed Middle School in 1996 and from Notre Dame High
School in 1999. During her time at Notre Dame, she appeared in productions
of Bye Bye Birdie, Once Upon a Mattress and The Crucible.
Bilson attended Grossmont College in a suburb of San Diego, but dropped
out after one year, taking her father's advice to pursue a professional
acting career and making several appearances in commercials, including
advertisements for Subway restaurants, Raisin Bran and Pepto-Bismol. She
made her screen acting debut in early 2003, appearing in episodes of Buffy
the Vampire Slayer and 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter.
Bilson was subsequently cast in The O.C., which debuted in August 2003.
Her character, Summer Roberts, was initially intended to appear in only a
few episodes, but became a series regular after a successful run, as
Bilson's on-screen romance with Seth Cohen (Adam Brody) became a noted
aspect of the series.
As a result of the success of The O.C., Bilson has become well-known among
teenage audiences. At the 2005 Teen Choice Awards, Bilson collected three
awards: "Choice Hottie Female", "Choice TV Actress (Drama)" and "Best
Onscreen TV Chemistry" (jointly won with Adam Brody). In 2005, Maxim
magazine named her sixth in their annual "Hot 100 List"; in 2006, the
publication awarded her #14. The UK edition of FHM Magazine named her 28th
in the 2006 100 Sexiest Women in the World list, while the US Edition
Ranked her 77th in 2005. Bilson was also named one of People magazine's
"100 Most Beautiful People" in 2006. In January 2008, radio host Howard
Stern named her the "hottest chick in Hollywood."
Bilson's first film role was in The Last Kiss, a romantic comedy-drama
also starring Zach Braff. In the film, which opened in 2006, she plays a
college student who seduces Braff's character. It was reported that she
called for a body double during the sex scenes because she was
uncomfortable being nude in front of the camera. She does appear in the
scene for the final film, wearing a flesh-colored bra. "I was terrified!"
she admitted. "But Zach really helped me through it, and we're friends, so
he made it very comfortable, and Tony made it very comfortable, and it was
actually a really nice setting. And I'm happy I did it, because I can say
I did my first sex scene, and I never have to do that again!" One review
of the film noted that Bilson played the role with "surprising depth",
although another critic described her role as "Glenn Close in Fatal
Attraction as an airhead valley girl with a hot bod".
Bilson has stated that she prefers acting in feature films to appearing on
television, and that she would like the kind of roles "that Natalie
Portman and Scarlett Johansson are offered". She has specified that though
she is "grateful" for the success of The O.C., she feels that the show "is
over" and that she is "ready to move on" to film roles. In September 2006,
unconfirmed reports surfaced that Bilson was linked to star in a film
version of the comic book character Wonder Woman; Bilson has stated that
these reports were untrue.
In late 2006, Bilson was cast in the role of Millie in Doug Liman's
thriller Jumper, as the replacement for actress Teresa Palmer; the film
was released on February 14, 2008. She also appeared in a two-episode arc
on The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz's NBC comedy, Chuck, and in the film New
York, I Love You, and appeared in the 100th episode of How I Met Your
Mother as Ted's latest love interest. In September 2008 she started
shooting the indie romantic film Waiting for Forever, directed by James
Bilson and actor Hayden Christensen, whom she met on the set of Jumper,
became engaged in December 2008. She and Adam Brody, her co-star on The
O.C., dated for three years. Their relationship ended in December 2006.
Bilson has been recognized by several media sources as being a "fashion
junkie". She has described herself as having a "vintage" sense of style,
and noted Kate Moss and Diane Keaton as inspirations. Her clothes often
have a "boho" feel to them. She approached DKNY Jeans in late 2007 with a
view to design a clothing line with the popular fashion brand. Together
they created Edie Rose. The collection was launched in September 2008. An
advertising image was released in July 2008 which featured Bilson
modelling her Edie Rose collection. Of her line, she said in an interview
with Teen Vogue "I wanted to keep it as separate as possible from Rachel
Bilson the actress. I'm hoping people will appreciate it for the clothes,
not the person behind them." Much of her fashion collection was lost when
her home was burglarized in May 2009. Bilson has turned down requests to
appear seminude in men's magazines, specifying that she feels that her
body "is sacred" and "not there for the whole world to see".