While appearing as guests on the "Everything Iconic" podcast (which was teased in their own "Welcome to the OC, Bitches!" podcast episode), the actresses opened up to host Danny Pellegrino about their reactions once they learned of Barton's recent interview with E! News.
"You know Melinda and I were talking immediately after [the interview] came out," Bilson, who played Summer on the show, recalled. "And we were just like, 'Wait, what?'"
Clarke – who played Julie on the teen drama – explained that although she couldn't speak for anyone's experience other than her own, she can understand Barton's perspective.
"Someone who is 16, 17, 18 – that amount of hours of work, pressure, at such a young age – at best, you're exhausted," she said. "And at worst, it's overwhelming and chaotic so, it kinda breaks my heart a little."
"We knew there was a lot of pressure on her but if it was really that bad of an experience, that's not right for any young person," Clarke continued. "But, some of the comments were very, um, perplexing to me, so I don't know what the truth is about that. I do know that, yes, this was an enormous amount of pressure for her. And for everybody."
The "perplexing" comments Clarke alluded to reference Barton's recent interview, during which she opened up about her experience across three seasons on the popular show.
"It's a bit complicated," Barton recalled to E! News when it came to her decision to leave "The O.C." "It started pretty early on because it had a lot to do with them adding Rachel in last minute as, after the first season, a series regular and evening out everybody's pay – and sort of general bullying from some of the men on set that kind of felt really s-----."
However, during their podcast episode, Bilson described Barton's claim that she was added to the cast at the last minute as "completely false."
"That's misinformation," Bilson disputed. "Where is she going with this and what is she trying to say? I would actually like to talk to her and find out what her experience was from her perspective, because I saw things a little differently."
When it came to filming her last episode in 2006, Barton also hinted that although there were mixed emotions, she felt it was the right thing to ultimately step away due to the alleged environment on set.
"I was really sad I was going because that was like my family," Barton told E! News. "But, there had also been some things that weren't so cool and I would be lying to say I wasn't a little bit relieved that I was going to extricate myself from that situation. For whatever reasons, years later, certain people, when they see me from the show, they are so excited to see me and they only remember the good times. So, it's a bit of a mixed bag how we all feel about it. I was young, but I was excited to try and get to do new stuff, too, and didn't know if I could keep handling the stress of that environment that I was put in."
When it comes to singling out those "certain people" Barton is referring to, neither Bilson nor Clarke seem to have any idea as to their identities.
"I mean, I'm definitely pretty confused by most of it," Bilson said of Barton's comments. "And I don't know who she's referring to because I didn't personally witness any of that."
Clarke then added, "It's hard for me to speculate because I like to speak from truth. But, we can only imagine that it was pretty, like I said, overwhelming and just how to navigate these waters at that age."
Although the two stars stated they did not personally witness Barton's experience, they extended an open invitation for their former co-star to join them on their podcast to give her full perspective.
Barton has not publicly commented on Bilson and Clarke's response.