‘The O.C.’ Cast 1 of the Cohen Parents First To ‘Send a Very Clear Message’ To Viewers
As much as The O.C. centered around teenagers there were also storylines about the adults. To drive home the point the TV series wasn’t just about teens, the program’s creator, Josh Schwartz, cast the role of Sandy Cohen first.
Josh Schwartz considered Jeff Goldblum for the part of Sandy Cohen
“In my head, when we started talking about casting, I was like, ‘You know who could play Sandy would be Jeff Goldblum?’ And everybody was like, ‘That’s too Jewish,’” he said.
When Schwartz began writing The O.C. the Cohens weren’t the Cohens. They were the Needleman family “so they were even more Jewish,” he added.
Schwartz’s own college experience inspired the show.
“As a Jewish kid from the East Coast to [the University of Southern California] … Orange County/Newport Beach was an entirely new world to me and I, of course, was never going to fit in into that world, but I saw what was appealing about it,” he said.
‘The O.C.’ eventually cast Peter Gallagher as Sandy Cohen
Fans of The O.C. know Peter Gallagher as Sandy, Seth’s funny, surf-loving father. A public defender who brings Ryan Atwood (Ben McKenzie) home to stay with the Cohens, Schwartz cast the role of Sandy first.
“We wanted to send a very clear message that this was a show as much about the parents as it was about the kids, and we had this acclaimed film and stage actor in the lead role, heartthrob himself,” Schwartz told Uproxx of Gallagher. “And somebody who was a terrific actor who was going to ground the adult world with a lot of credibility.”
At the time Gallagher was already an established actor. He’d starred in American Beauty, which won five Academy Awards, as well as Center Stage and While You Were Sleeping just to name a few.
Schwartz continued, recalling his first meeting with the actor who would become Sandy Cohen.
“We heard Peter was looking to do series TV and I still remember the first time we met him, him running through the lines with us,” Schwartz said. “And it was incredibly exciting because I never had an actor of his caliber read anything that I’d done before.”
Sandy Cohen is now a famous TV dad
Up there with Seinfeld’s Frank Costanza (Jerry Stiller) and Arrested Development’s Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) as some of the most memorable TV dads is Sandy Cohen.
Gallagher’s character dispensed sage advice to the show’s “core four” — Ryan, Seth, Summer Roberts (Rachel Bilson), and Marissa Cooper (Mischa Barton) — and made jokes while preparing bagels in the Cohen kitchen.
More than a decade since The O.C. went off the air, Sandy is remembered as a fan-favorite character.
Watch The O.C. Seasons 1 – 4 on HBO Max.