Rachel Sarah Bilson (born August 25, 1981) is an American actress and designer. 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/science fiction film Jumper. She is currently starring as Dr. Zoe Hart on The CW's Hart of Dixie.
Bilson was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of Janice (née Stango), a sex therapist, and Danny Bilson, a writer, director, and producer. Her 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, England), 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 when she was nine years old, and in 1997, her father remarried Heather Medway, an actress and the mother of Bilson's half-sisters Hattie and Rosemary.
Bilson had what has been described as 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" and because of this experience she learned to play the piano. Bilson graduated from Walter Reed Middle School in 1995 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. She then made 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 one episode 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. She was ranked #71 in TC Chandler's "Most Beautiful Faces 2008" list.
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 ("Girls Versus Suits") as Ted Mosby's latest love interest. In September 2008 she started shooting the indie romantic film Waiting For Forever, directed by James Keach. In September 2009 Rachel appeared as a celebrity guest judge in the third episode of Project Runway (season 6). She stars in the upcoming indie film BBF & Baby next to Krysten Ritter and Kate Bosworth. The film began production in Los Angeles in October 2010.
It was announced in 2011 that Bilson was set to star in a new The CW series called Hart of Dixie created by The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz. Bilson and Schwartz, who already had worked together on The O.C, were previously set to work again together on the NBC show Ghost Angeles, but the supernatural romantic comedy was dropped.
Bilson also launched a shoe range in 2011.
Bilson and Adam Brody, her co-star on The O.C., dated for three years, ending in 2006. She met Hayden Christensen on the set of Jumper in 2007 and became engaged in 2008. In mid-2010 the couple split up, but were dating again a few months later.
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 has 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. It consisted of mainly black and white separates with a splash of yellow that could easily work with an existing wardrobe. Her idea was to keep fashionable items accessible to young women by keeping the prices of each piece under $100. 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 that "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 burgled in May 2009. Before appearing in Maxim, Bilson had 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". Bilson's fashions and sense of style made her the unwitting target of the Bling Ring, who burgled her home on several occasions.
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