The O.C. is TV's hottest drama. It's about a tough, underprivileged young man who is taken in by an upscale Orange County family and finds himself living in California's fast lane. TV audiences have taken this ensemble cast into their hearts. Here are the real stories of The Cast of the O.C.: • Ottawa native Kelly Rowan deftly portrays Kirsten Cohen, The O.C.'s often saintly and noble heart. • Adam Brody, who first tried to become a professional surfer, plays Seth Cohen, the nerdy but playful counterpoint to the brooding Ryan Atwood. • Benjamin McKenzie, hailed as the next Russell Crowe, is Ryan Atwood, the dark soul raging against the polished veneer of Newport Beach. • Peter Gallagher portrays Sanford Sandy Cohen, the loving patriarch of The O.C. A veteran of film, television and stage, he once pursued a degree in economics before being drawn to acting. • Art imitates life for Rachel Bilson, who plays the ultimate California party girl Summer Roberts. She made her first feature film at age seven. • Melinda Clarke, a professionally trained singer, is the Machiavellian matriarch Julie Cooper. Her character tries to stay one step ahead of her aging, wealthy husband and her willful daughter Marissa. • Tate Donovan combines his boy-next-door good looks and stumbling goofball charm in the character of Jimmy. A triathlete, he once tried to organize a team from The O.C. • Mischa Barton admits to being painfully shy but excels in her role as beach princess Marissa Cooper, is the youngest star in The O.C.