Scene It Before: The Cohen Mansion from The O.C.

Two Malibu homes star in the series—and one just hit the market

The Internet lit up recently with the news that the Cohen mansion from the hit series The O.C. had hit the market. In actuality, the residence that audiences came to know and love was a mashup of two different properties, neither of which are located in Orange County. I had the lucky opportunity to visit both a few years back.

The subject of The O.C. came up in conversation while I was eating lunch at the Malibu Country Mart with my husband and a friend in 2011. In a truly only-in-L.A. moment, the woman sitting next to us leaned over to ask if we were discussing the Fox show and disclosed that she was the owner of the Cohen house. Once my friend and I picked our chins up off the floor, the woman and her husband did something amazing: they invited us over for a tour. As fate would have it, they had just sold their home and were moving to, yes, Newport Beach. They were happy to grant some fans the opportunity of a lifetime before they left town by giving us a behind-the-scenes peek at the Cohen pad. We, of course, jumped at the chance.

Our new friends owned the single-story property at 6210 Ocean Breeze Drive in Malibu, which was used for interior filming and in backyard scenes on The O.C. Interestingly, there isn’t a pool house in the backyard.The iconic structure where Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) lives on the show, was actually a fake edifice built by producers for the filming of the pilot on an expanse of lawn situated adjacent to the pool.

The two-story manse used for exterior shots is located up the road in the same gated community at 6205 Ocean Breeze Drive. That’s the home that recently came up for sale. The reason for the use of two different properties on the series? Apparently, producers liked the interior of the 6210 house, but did not like the fact that it was only one story. They wanted the Cohen home to be a two-level residence. So they wound up utilizing one dwelling for interior/backyard scenes and another for exteriors. Ah, the magic of Hollywood.

Both homes appear in the pilot episode, as does a third neighboring residence (at 6201 Ocean Breeze Drive) which stood in for Marissa Cooper’s (Mischa Barton) pad.

Once the series was picked up, the interior of 6210 (including several bedrooms, the entry way, dining room, family room, and kitchen) was meticulously recreated on a soundstage at Manhattan Beach Studios (now MBS Media Campus). The home’s backyard, pool, built-in barbeque, and ocean views were recreated on the same set, and the pool house was installed. Because it was not possible to dig beneath the soundstage, the pool was built above ground. Aside from a set of stairs, the real life backyard looks exactly like the one shown onscreen. In fact, the recreation was so realistic that I felt like I was actually visiting the Cohens on my tour of the 6210 house. I half expected to see Chrismukkah stockings hanging from the fireplace.

After the walk-through, I ventured up the street to snap some photographs of the residence used for exterior shots. The fact that a black Range Rover like the one Sandy Cohen drives was parked out front was the icing on the cake.

Lindsay Blake is an actress, writer, celebrity admirer and Los Angeles enthusiast who contributes to CityThink each Thursday. Her true love is filming locations, and she founded the Web site IAMNOTASTALKER in 2007 to document her vast findings on the subject. For more “stalking” fun, you can follow Lindsay on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.