Ryan of The O.C.
“It seemed so absurd to me at the time. Oh, yeah, I'm gonna get this pilot and be a star. C'mon! That doesn't happen to some kid from Austin who doesn't know what the heck he's doing.” Benjamin McKenzie (on being a part of "The O.C")
Hailing from Austin, Texas, Benjamin McKenzie began acting off-Broadway before landing the star-making role of Ryan Atwood, the troubled surrogate brother to Adam Brody's Seth, on the FOX teen drama "The O.C." (2003-2007). He has also guest-starred in such TV shows as "The District," "JAG" and "Mad TV," and has played significant roles in the films "Junebug" (2005) and "88 Minutes" (2008).
Next, he will play the lead role in the film adaptation of Dalton Trumbo's 1938 novel, "Johnny Got His Gun," and is rumored to be teaming up with Channing Tatum, Paul Dano, Ryan Phillippe and Giovanni Ribisi in the upcoming dramatic thriller "The Stanford Prison Experiment."
On a more personal note, the 5' 8½ rising star, who was voted one of “Teen People's” “Hottest 25 Stars” and “InStyle's” “10 Hottest Bachelors Of Summer” in July 2005, was linked to Rachel McAdams, Mischa Barton (rumored to have dated for a short time in 2003), Rachel Nichols, Emily VanCamp and Amanda Loncar.
"I don't like the whole trend of people in the business treating marriage like entertainment. It's either for publicity value or because they're bored. Because they haven't done a movie in a few months, they get married instead." Benjamin McKenzie (on young Hollywood weddings)
Childhood and Family:
Son to Austin attorney Pieter Meade Schenkkan and prize-winning poet Mary Frances Victory, Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan was born on September 12, 1978, in Austin, Texas. The eldest child of the family, he has two younger brothers. Benjamin is a nephew of Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan (born March 19, 1953) and cousin of actress Sarah Drew (born in 1980). His paternal grandparents both were theatre actors when they were young.
Benjamin went to Austin High School in Austin, Texas, where he played football. The Bush twins (Jenna and Barbara) also attended the same school; Benjamin was a senior the year they were freshmen.
Following his graduation in 1997, Benjamin enrolled at the University of Virginia, which was previously attended by both his father and grandfather. While studying Foreign Affairs and Economics there, he acted in "Measure for Measure" and "Zoo Story." After receiving a B.A. degree in 2001, he moved to New York City three weeks before 9/11 and became a stage actor. When he eventually moved to Los Angeles, Benjamin changed his name for screen-credit purposes because there's an actor named Ben Schenkman registered with the Screen Actors Guild.
“I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I thought I'd get a good education and do some acting at the same time.”
During his spare time, Benjamin enjoys playing football, skiing, and snowboarding. He is good friends with his “O.C.” co-stars Adam Brody, Mischa Barton and Rachel Bilson. He recently moved into a new apartment in Santa Monica.
“I had one year of struggle. My parents were always there, but I didn't want to rely on them. Now it's moving pretty fast. I'm not rich, but obviously this is fantastic. All I know to do with money is put it in a shoe box anyway.” Benjamin McKenzie
Johnny Got His Gun
"I'm somewhat puzzled about that myself. I did theater in college, so I had already started down that path, but I didn't want to major in theater at U. Va. I didn't really know what I wanted to do, so I thought I'd get a good education and do some acting at the same time" Benjamin McKenzie.
After receiving a BA degree in Foreign Affairs and Economics from the University of Virginia in 2001, Benjamin McKenzie headed to New York City just weeks before the terrorist attacks of 9/11. There, he supported himself by waiting tables while performing off-Broadway in a production of Spanish playwright Pedro Calderón de la Barca's comedy, “Life is a Dream.” He also performed in numerous productions at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, including a staging of Elmer Rice's Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Street Scene” and Maurice Maeterlinck's classic “The Blue Bird.”
The budding actor subsequently packed for Los Angeles. After guest appearances in an episode of CBS’ police drama "The District" and NBC/CBS’ military drama "JAG," McKenzie landed the star-making role of Ryan Atwood, a troubled teenager from a broken home adopted by the wealthy Sandy and Kirsten Cohen (played by Peter Gallagher and Kelly Rowan) and the surrogate brother to Adam Brody's Seth, on the FOX teen drama "The O.C." (2003-2007).
"By the time I got into ‘The O.C.,’ I went in and just did it. I didn't try to impress anybody, which was different from my other auditions. I think that's why I got it." Benjamin McKenzie
The newcomer instantly became an overnight star and after guest-starring in a May 2004 episode of FOX’s sketch comedy television series "MADtv," he received his first film role in director Phil Morrison's Academy Award-nominated comedy-drama, "Junebug" (2005), alongside Alessandro Nivola and Embeth Davidtz.
That same year, he also filmed "88 Minutes," a drama directed by Jon Avnet in which he acted opposite Al Pacino. The film was released in the United States on April 18, 2008.
McKenzie has completed his new film, "Johnny Got His Gun," Rowan Joseph's film adaptation of Dalton Trumbo's 1938 novel in which he portrayed the main character of Joe Bonham, a 20-year-old soldier serving in World War I who lost his mobility and senses as a result of being hit by a mortar shell.
He is also rumored to be teaming up with Channing Tatum, Paul Dano, Ryan Phillippe, and Giovanni Ribisi in Christopher McQuarrie's upcoming dramatic thriller film, "The Stanford Prison Experiment," which is based on a psychology experiment conducted by Zimbardo in 1971.
“Sometimes those fears (about fame) creep into the back of your head, but then you slap yourself and think, 'Oh, woe is me! People actually like me.' What a silly thing to worry about. This is a huge opportunity and I'm excited.” Benjamin McKenzie
Amanda: Outstanding Performance in Feature Film, "Junebug," 2007
Sarasota Film Festival: Outstanding Ensemble Acting, "88 Minutes," 2006