Barton played Marissa Cooper in the hit series from 2003 to 2006, but abruptly left the teen drama show after the end of the third season. The actress then moved back to England to take a break from being in the Hollywood spotlight.
In a pre-taped interview that aired just before her "Dancing With the Stars" performance, the 30-year-old actress reflected on why she decided to leave "when 'The O.C.' was at its prime."
"I think I just got to the point where I was like, 'I'm not sure I'm enjoying this anymore,’" Barton said.
"I just felt like I was in a machine and I couldn't really get off. So it was time to step back. So I went back to England and it was just a year of real self-exploration.”
Barton, who was born in England, explained that her move back to the U.K. gave her "a year of change, and just putting myself in a better place."
"In a weird way it parallels this week and that's made the whole thing like 100 times better," Barton said.