A photogenic beauty whose natural onscreen presence made her a perfect fit with young audiences, actress Rachel Bilson played characters both naughty and nice with impressive ease. Bilson rose to fame as a fiery mainstay on the popular primetime teen drama "The O.C" (Fox, 2003-07). Her role as the wealthy and pretentious Southern California princess Summer Roberts had widespread appeal, as teen girls loved to hate her and guys of all ages loved to watch her in action. Indeed, her visibility among teenybopper and men\\'s magazine readers spelled instant notoriety; the kind of recognition that Bilson hoped would translate into a feature film career once "The O.C." finished its run. She put her plan into motion with the romantic-comedy "The Last Kiss" (2006), and although the film met with mixed reviews, Bilson\\'s notices were largely favorable. Unfettered by the commitments of a weekly series, she soon followed with the features "Jumper" (2008), "New York, I Love You" (2009) and "Waiting for Forever" (2011). None of these efforts, however, translated into a big screen triumph, prompting Bilson to return to the familiarity of television with the series "Hart of Dixie" (The CW, 2011- ). Still at the beginning of her young career, Bilson\\'s future appeared to be as bright as ever.
Generations before Rachel Bilson was born on Aug. 25, 1981, her family established firm roots in the entertainment business. At the time of her birth, her father Danny was a budding screenwriter and director. His father Bruce had directed dozens of sitcoms and dramas throughout the 1960s and 70s, and her paternal great-grandparents George and Hattie were, respectively, the head of the trailer department at RKO and a screenwriter. With a natural flair for drama since she was born, it was natural that the youngest Bilson would also make inroads in Hollywood. Her first role came at seven years old, when she was cast alongside comedian Louie Anderson in the comedy "The Wrong Guys" (1988). She enjoyed a small stint in the comic book adaptation miniseries "The Human Target" (ABC, 1992) but did not go full-throttle for the child star life right away, maintaining a fairly normal Los Angeles upbringing. As a student at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks, Bilson took the stage regularly in both musicals and dramas including "Bye Bye Birdie," "Once Upon a Mattress," and "The Crucible."
After graduation Bilson spent a year at Grossmont College in San Diego but quickly came to the decision to focus on her acting career. She hit the audition circuit and immediately landed work in commercials. Within a few years she began getting face time on teen-oriented shows including "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" (The WB, 1997-2001; UPN, 2001-03), "That 70\\'s Show" (1998-2006) and "8 Simple Rules" (ABC, 2002-05). The increased exposure led to an audition for the pilot of "The O.C.," Josh Schwartz\\'s primetime take on teen life in the wealthy Orange County region of Southern California. Bilson proved to producers that she had not only the look, but the wit to carry off the gorgeous and sometimes bitchy Summer Roberts. The newcomer was thrilled to land the minor role, which was rapidly expanded into a series regular and became key to the show\\'s success, due in great part to her romance with the character Seth (Adam Brody). To the delight of fans, Bilson and Brody became a seemingly perfect pair off camera as well, dating through a good deal of the show\\'s run.
"The O.C." jettisoned Bilson into the spotlight where she rapidly earned a loyal fanbase among the show\\'s teen demographic; even earning Teen Choice Awards for her work. She also neared the top of "Hot" charts in men\\'s magazines like Maxim and FHM. After several successful seasons on TV, Bilson landed a co-starring role in the romantic comedy "The Last Kiss" (2006), in which she offered another side to her persona, starring as a na?ve college student who becomes involved with a "taken" older man (Zach Braff). Critics were split on the movie, but Bilson, seemed determined to hone her craft and prove the doubters wrong. The farewell episode of "The O.C." aired in 2007 and the following year, Bilson returned to the big screen in the sci-fi adventure "Jumper" (2008), starring Hayden Christensen, with whom she became romantically involved for a time. The actress returned to theaters as a member of a large ensemble cast in the Big Apple-based anthology "New York, I Love You" (2009), followed by a co-starring turn in the quirky romance "Waiting for Forever" (2011). Bilson next reunited with "O.C." creator Josh Schwartz as the star of his medical drama "Hart of Dixie" (CW, 2011- ), in which she played a young New York doctor forced to accept a position in rural Alabama.