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Ben McKenzie
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McKenzie in 2022.
Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan

(1978-09-12) September 12, 1978 (age 45)
Alma mater University of Virginia (BA)
  • Actor
  • commentator
Years active 2002–present
(m. 2017)
Children 2
Relatives Robert Schenkkan (uncle)

Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan (born September 12, 1978) is an American actor, author and commentator. He is best known for his starring television roles as Ryan Atwood on the teen drama The O.C. (2003–2007), Ben Sherman on the crime drama Southland (2009–2013), and James "Jim" Gordon on the crime drama Gotham (2014–2019). McKenzie made his film debut in the Academy Award-nominated film Junebug (2005), before appearing in films including 88 Minutes (2007), Goodbye World (2013), Some Kind of Beautiful (2014), and Line of Duty (2019). In 2020, he made his Broadway debut in the Bess Wohl play Grand Horizons.

Outside of acting, McKenzie is noted for his critical commentary on the cryptocurrency bubble and fraud with journalist Jacob Silverman. Their book on the subject, Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud, was published in July 2023.

Early life

Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan was born in Austin, Texas. He is one of three sons born to Frances Schenkkan, a poet, and Pete Schenkkan, an attorney. He has two younger brothers, both of whom are former actors. He is the brother-in-law of photojournalist Scout Tufankjian.

His grandfather, Robert F. Schenkkan, was a professor at the University of Texas at Austin and worked on passing the Public Broadcasting Act of 1967. He is a nephew of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan; McKenzie appeared in his 2019 work The Investigation. His middle name, McKenzie, is his paternal grandmother's maiden name; he uses it as part of his stage name to avoid confusion with actor Ben Shenkman. His second cousin is actress Sarah Drew.

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 to 2001 he attended the University of Virginia, his father and paternal grandfather's alma mater, where he majored in foreign affairs and economics.

Acting career

2001–2007: Early career and The O.C.

After graduating from college in 2001, McKenzie moved to New York City where he 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.

At 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 as well as "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. ..... 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 the Academy Award-nominated film 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

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 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 film 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 and ran for five seasons before being canceled in 2013. From September to October 2010, he starred in an off-Broadway transfer of The Glass Menagerie at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Following the end of Southland, McKenzie was cast in the CBS drama television pilot The Advocates, opposite Mandy Moore. The show was not produced. In late 2013, he was cast in the drama film The Swimmer, a Norwegian production that was not produced. In October 2013, he signed an exclusive talent deal with Warner Bros. Television Studios, the home of The O.C. and Southland. A few months later, in February 2014, it was announced that McKenzie was cast in the pilot of Gotham.

McKenzie returned to Fox in the Batman prequel television show Gotham, which premiered on September 22, 2014. In the series, he portrayed James "Jim" Gordon as a young detective new to Gotham City. After five seasons and 100 episodes, the show concluded in April 2019. 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.

In 2017, he appeared in the first season of The Accidental Wolf, a miniseries series created by Arian Moayed and the theater production company Waterwell. He shot Line of Duty, a real-time action thriller, in Birmingham, Alabama in early summer 2018; it was released in 2019.

2019–present: new projects and theater

Following the conclusion of Gotham in 2019, McKenzie indicated the end of one chapter in his career, turning to new efforts including writing and directing.

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 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 starred 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 closed on March 1, 2020. In February 2022, it was announced that McKenzie would star in and produce Bloat, an internationally produced J-horror film. In February 2023, he was announced as a star in the ABC medical drama pilot The Hurt Unit which was not picked up to series.

Personal life

In September 2015, actress Morena Baccarin said in a legal declaration involving her divorce from Austin Chick that she planned to marry her Gotham co-star, McKenzie, adding that she was pregnant with their child. Their daughter Frances Laiz Setta was born on March 2, 2016. Sixteen days later, on March 18, Baccarin and Chick's divorce became official. Baccarin and McKenzie announced their engagement in November 2016. They were married on June 2, 2017 (Baccarin's 38th birthday) in Brooklyn, New York. They announced the birth of their son Arthur in March 2021. With Baccarin, McKenzie has one step-son, Julius.



Year Title Role Notes
2005 Junebug Johnny Johnsten
2007 88 Minutes Mike Stempt Credited as Benjamin McKenzie
2008 Every Monday Matters Himself Documentary
2008 Johnny Got His Gun Joe Bonham Filmed stage performance
2009 Eight Percent, TheThe Eight Percent John Keller Short film
2011 Batman: Year One Bruce Wayne / Batman (voice)
2011 Blisters: How Three Became Four, TheThe Blisters: How Three Became Four Dave Short film; also a producer
2012 Adventures in the Sin Bin Michael
2012 Decoding Annie Parker Tom
2013 Goodbye World Nick Randworth
2014 Some Kind of Beautiful Brian
2019 The Report Scrubbed CIA Officer
2019 Line of Duty Dean Keller
2022 I Want You Back Leighton's Dad
TBD Bloat Jack Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
2002 District, TheThe District Tim Ruskin Episode: "Faith" (credited as Benjamin McKenzie)
2003 JAG Petty Officer Spencer Episode: "Empty Quiver" (credited as Benjamin McKenzie)
2003–2007 The O.C. Ryan Atwood 92 episodes
2004 MADtv Ryan Atwood 1 episode
2004–2005 Punk'd Himself 2 episodes
2009–2013 Southland Ben Sherman 43 episodes
2011 Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated Odnarb (voice) Episode: "The Wild Brood"
2013 Men at Work Bryan Episode: "Tyler the Pioneer"
2013 The Advocates Henry Bird CBS pilot
2014–2019 Gotham James "Jim" Gordon 100 episodes; director (3 episodes), writer (2 episodes)
2017 The Accidental Wolf Webseries
2023 The Hurt Unit Danny ABC pilot


Year Title Role Notes
2020 Phreaks Audio book
2023 Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud Narrator/co-author Audio book


Year Title Role Venue Notes
2001 The Blue Bird Various Williamstown Theatre Festival Credited as Benjamin Schenkkan
Street Scene Neighbor
2010 The Glass Menagerie Jim O'Connor Mark Taper Forum
2011 Marriage Performer Atlantic Theater 10x25 Festival
2019 The Investigation: A Search for the Truth in Ten Acts Michael Flynn / Donald Trump Jr. Riverside Church Reading
2020 Grand Horizons Ben Hayes Theater Broadway

See also

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