There are certain things that Rachel Bilson can say that if you or I tried, we couldn't sell.
Take, for example, Bilson's reply to a question about whether she shares any of the campus radical political beliefs discovered by her character early in the fourth season of "The O.C."
"I am a big believer in all of this stuff and I think that they've done such a good job with everything that she believes in," Bilson tells reporters. "I have a pet bunny on the show, so that helps the awareness of cruelty to animals. I don't eat pigs because I love them, so there are definitely some similarities."
I'll say it again: You or I could not say that we don't eat pigs because we love them and expect to get away with it. Bilson can. Perhaps that's why she was also able to temporarily steal an older man from his pregnant girlfriend in this summer's sudsy "The Last Kiss" without seeming like a harpy. And perhaps that's why Bilson is ready to step out as the female lead on "The O.C." this fall in the aftermath of the moderately tragic death of Mischa Barton's Marissa Cooper.
Of course, Bilson -- she of the pet bunny and love for pigs -- would never boast about taking control on the FOX teen soap.
"No, we definitely have a lot of strong single characters on our show," she insists. "I would never think that my character is in that position because everyone does their fair share and has interesting story lines. We have a really good female cast, as well as male of course, but yes, I think everyone shares the limelight so to speak."
Certainly, no character on "The O.C." has evolved more than Bilson's Summer Roberts. A ditzy background figure in the pilot, Summer quickly became a cast regular, one half of the show's most beloved couple and a stealth intellect capable of acceptance at Brown. This season's early episodes are a showcase for Bilson, as Summer deals with the death of her best friend.
"I really like the direction they sort of pointed her in," Bilson says. "Dealing with her best friend's death, she turns into sort of a tree hugger, which I think is nice to see on a TV show, especially with such a young audience that it might raise awareness and if they're not aware of these things, it brings it to their attention and maybe they want to get involved. So I think it's cool that it's that way as opposed to cage fighting or something like that."
In case you're curious, cage fighting is Ryan's (Ben McKenzie) far more character-appropriate response.
In addition to testing new emotional waters with Summer, Bilson is dealing with a suddenly hot film career. She'll be pulling double-duty this fall zipping from the "O.C." set to the Canadian shoot of the new Doug Liman franchise pic "Jumper." That doesn't mean, though, that Bilson is pointing herself in the direction of her post-"O.C." career.
"We don't know that it's the final season," Bilson says. "We're just having a lot of fun and trying to make the best season we can and go from there. No one thinks it's over and doesn't want it to be over, because we have a really great thing and why would you want something like that to end? So we're just doing the best we can and having fun doing it."
The fun begins down in Orange County on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 9 p.m. ET on FOX.