Born: September 12, 1978
Date of Birth: September 12, 1978
Birth name: Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan
The eldest of three sons, Ben McKenzie was born and raised in Austin, Texas, where he played football in high school. With Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan as his uncle, Ben had an interest in acting, but peer pressure kept him from expressing it. However, while studying Foreign Affairs and Economics at the University of Virginia, he began performing in productions such as Measure for Measure and Zoo Story. Following graduation in 2001, he moved to New York to pursue an acting career.
Ben appeared off-Broadway in Life Is a Dream at the Soho Rep, and in Street Scene and The Blue Bird at the Williamstown Theatre Festival. In 2002 he moved to Los Angeles, where he changed his name to Ben McKenzie to avoid confusion with Ben Schenkman, an actor already registered with the Screen Actors Guild. A fresh face on the scene, he soon landed guest roles on shows such as JAG and The District before being chosen in 2003 to play the lead role of Ryan Atwood in the Fox series The O.C., which quickly proved to be the breakout hit of the season.
Ben made his feature film debut playing Johnny in Junebug (2005). He lives in Santa Monica.