Ben McKenzie is an American actor, writer, and director.
Early Life Edit
Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan was born on September 12, 1978 in Austin, Texas. He is of Dutch-Jewish, English, and Scottish descent. He is one of three boys born to Frances Victory Schenkkan, a poet, and Pieter Meade Schenkkan, an attorney. His middle name, McKenzie, is his paternal grandmother's maiden name. His grandfather, Robert F. Schenkkan, was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and worked with President Lyndon B. Johnson on passing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. He is a nephew of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan.
For middle school, he attended St. Andrew's Episcopal School, where he was friends and flag football teammates with future Super Bowl MVP Drew Brees. He attended Stephen F. Austin High School, playing wide receiver and defensive back for the school's football team. From 1997–2001, he attended the University of Virginia, his father and paternal grandfather's alma mater, where he majored in foreign affairs and economics. He uses his middle name as his stage name to avoid confusion with actor Ben Shenkman.
2001–2007: Early career and The O.C. Edit
After graduating college in 2001, McKenzie moved to New York City where worked in part-time jobs and performed in some off-off-Broadway productions. During this period, he also participated in summer stock theater and the Williamstown Theatre Festival.
Ay age twenty-three, he moved to Los Angeles where he waited tables and slept on the floor of his friend Ernie Sabella's apartment. He was soon cast as Ryan Atwood in The O.C. On August 5, 2003, Fox premiered the television series, about affluent teenagers with stormy personal lives in Orange County, California. The show became an overnight success and made McKenzie famous. His performance in The O.C. earned him "Choice Breakout TV Star - Male" and "Choice TV Chemistry" nominations in the Teen Choice Awards and "Choice TV Actor - Drama/Action Adventure" and "Choice TV Actor : Drama" wins. McKenzie reportedly earned between about $15,000 and $25,000 per episode throughout the show's run.
The O.C. was the first time McKenzie played what The New York Times later described as the "quiet, guarded leading man" role he would repeatedly portray. As a result of the show's success, McKenzie appeared in magazines including People, In Touch Weekly and Us Weekly. He was ranked No. 5 in Independent Online's "100 Sexiest Men Alive" and twice appeared on Teen People magazine's annual list of "25 Sexiest Stars under 25". McKenzie was also voted one of InStyle's "10 Hottest Bachelors of Summer" in July 2005. The O.C. dropped in ratings dramatically during its third and fourth seasons, and ended in early 2007.
While appearing in The O.C., McKenzie made his feature film debut in Junebug alongside Amy Adams and Embeth Davidtz. The film was nominated for "Best International Film" and "Outstanding Ensemble Acting" in the Amanda Awards and won the Sarasota Film Festival award for "Outstanding Ensemble Acting". It also received high praise at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. According to Production Weekly, McKenzie was set to star in the thriller Snakes on a Plane, formerly known as Pacific Air 121, but later dropped out to film 88 Minutes, which starred Al Pacino.
2007–2019: Southland and Gotham Edit
In 2008, McKenzie earned critical acclaim for his solo performance in the "live on stage, on film" version of Dalton Trumbo's 1939 novel Johnny Got His Gun, his first starring role in a feature film. He stars as Joe Bonham, a role previously played by James Cagney, Jeff Daniels, and Timothy Bottoms. The movie premiered at the Paramount Theater in Austin, McKenzie's hometown, while he was filming the pilot for Southland.
In 2009, he appeared in the short movie The Eight Percent. The movie won the Delta Air Lines Fly-in Movie Contest and entered as an official selection on the Tribeca Film Festival's Short film category.
McKenzie starred as rookie police officer Ben Sherman on the NBC drama Southland, which premiered on April 9, 2009. The show was canceled while in production on its second season. TNT bought the rights for the show and showed the seven episodes that had been produced. The show was subsequently renewed. However, the show was once again canceled after the fifth season.
In Fall 2010, he starred in an off-Broadway transfer of The Glass Menagerie at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.
McKenzie returned to Fox in the Batman prequel television show Gotham, which premiered on September 22, 2014. In the series, he portrayed James Gordon as a young detective new to Gotham City. In the same series, he made his directorial debut with the season 3 episode "These Delicate and Dark Obsessions". McKenzie went on to direct "One of My Three Soups" and write "The Demon's Head" from the fourth season. He shot Live!, a real-time action thriller, in Birmingham, Alabama in early summer 2018, with the film slated for release in 2019.
2019–Present : New projects and theater Edit
On June 24, 2019 McKenzie, along with an ensemble cast, presented The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts, a dramatic reading of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III's Report on the Investigation into Russian Interference in the 2016 Presidential Election. McKenzie portrayed President Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, as well as the President's son and political advisor Donald Trump, Jr.
McKenzie made his Broadway debut on January 23, 2020 in the Second Stage production of Grand Horizons at the Hayes Theater. McKenzie stars as Ben, one of two sons struggling with their elderly parents' divorce. A limited-run production, the play began previews on December 23, 2019 and is scheduled to close on March 1, 2020.
Personal Life Edit
Benjamin McKenzie is married to fellow actress Morena Baccarin. They married on June 2, 2017. They have one daughter : Frances Schenkkan, born in March of 2016. The family, live in Brooklyn, New York.
- Ben uses his middle surname : McKenzie, as his surname stage to avoid confusion with actor Ben Shenkman.
- He started being credited as Ben McKenzie on Season 2 of The O.C. .
- 3D Timeline of Benjamin McKenzie at Kronomy