Ben McKenzie

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Ben McKenzie
Ben McKenzie (17032849756).jpg
McKenzie at WonderCon in April 2015
Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan

(1978-09-12) September 12, 1978 (age 41)
EducationStephen F. Austin Texas High School (Austin, Texas)
Alma materUniversity of Virginia (B.A.)
  • Actor
  • director
  • writer
Years active2002–present
Morena Baccarin (m. 2017)

Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan (born September 12, 1978),[1] is an American actor, writer and director. He is known for his role as Batman in Batman: Year One and Ryan Atwood in the television series The O.C. and Ben Sherman in Southland. He appeared in the films Junebug[2] and 88 Minutes. His first starring role in a feature film was in the 2008 film adaptation of Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun.[3] From 2014 to 2019, McKenzie starred as James Gordon in the television series Gotham, for which he also wrote and directed episodes.

Early life and education[edit]

McKenzie was born in Austin, Texas.[1] 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.[4][5] 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.[6][7] 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.[8] 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.[9] He uses his middle name as his stage name to avoid confusion with actor Ben Shenkman.[10]


From 2001 to 2003, McKenzie worked in part-time jobs and sought acting work in New York and Los Angeles before being cast as Ryan Atwood in The O.C.[11] 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.[11] 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.[12]

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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] 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.

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.[16][11] In the same series, he made his directorial debut with the season 3 episode "These Delicate and Dark Obsessions".[17] 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.

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.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In September 2015, actress Morena Baccarin said in a legal declaration involving her divorce that she planned to marry her Gotham co-star, McKenzie, adding that she was pregnant with their child.[19][20] Their daughter was born in March 2016.[21] Baccarin and McKenzie announced their engagement in November 2016. They were married on June 2, 2017 in Brooklyn, New York.[22]



Year Title Role Notes
2005 Junebug Johnny Johnsten
2007 88 Minutes Mike Stempt
2008 Every Monday Matters Himself Documentary
2008 Johnny Got His Gun Joe Bonham
2009 The Eight Percent John Keller Short film
2011 Batman: Year One Bruce Wayne / Batman (voice)
2011 The 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


Year Title Role Notes
2002 The District Tim Ruskin Episode: "Faith"
2003 JAG Petty Officer Spencer Episode: "Empty Quiver"
2003–2007 The O.C. Ryan Atwood 92 episodes
2004 MADtv Ryan Atwood 1 episode
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"
2014–2019 Gotham James Gordon 100 episodes
Director - "These Delicate and Dark Obsessions", "One of My Three Soups" and
13 Stitches
Writer - "The Demon's Head" and "The Trial of Jim Gordon"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2004 Teen Choice Awards Choice Breakout TV Star – Male
The O.C.
Choice TV Actor – Drama/Action Adventure Nominated
2005 Choice TV Actor Drama Nominated
Choice TV Chemistry (shared with Mischa Barton) Nominated
2012 PRISM Award Male Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline
2015 People's Choice Awards Favorite Actor In A New TV Series[23][24]
2016 Teen Choice Award Choice TV Actor Drama Nominated
2019 Teen Choice Awards Choice Action TV Actor[25] Nominated

Further reading[edit]

  • Romano, Mary (2005). Benjamin McKenzie: Rising Star. Triumph. ISBN 978-1-57343-689-2.


  1. ^ a b "Benjamin McKenzie". Archived from the original on September 10, 2015. Retrieved September 24, 2015.
  2. ^ Junebug's Benjamin McKenzie Retrieved 2007-1-14. People Magazine.
  3. ^ Benjamin McKenzie Variety Retrieved 2008-10-8. Variety (magazine)
  4. ^ "Pieter Meade Schenkkan (Attorney)". PlainSite. Archived from the original on September 27, 2015. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  5. ^ "Barnes: Pete Schenkkan is a poet of the law". Austin American-Statesman. Austin, Texas. January 28, 2013. Archived from the original on September 23, 2015. His wife, Frances Victory Schenkkan, is a prize-winning poet. One son, Ben McKenzie, who opted to use his middle name, sizzles on the TV cop drama Southland after melting hearts on The O.C. His other sons, both former actors, are involved in nonprofits and the law.
  6. ^ "Robert Schenkkan Obituary - Austin, TX". Legacy. Austin American-Statesman. Retrieved 26 September 2015.
  7. ^ Powers, William; Greninger, Sue Alexander. "In Memoriam: Robert F. Schenkkan". The University of Texas at Austin. Retrieved September 26, 2015.
  8. ^ "A brush with greatness - why I want Drew Brees to win tonight" Archived 2011-07-16 at the Wayback Machine,; retrieved March 8, 2010.
  9. ^ "Before Batman". U.Va. Magazine. University of Virginia Alumni Association. Winter 2014.
  10. ^ "Life — High Profile". The Cavalier Daily. University of Virginia. January 21, 2004.
  11. ^ a b c Hale, Mike (2014-11-23). "Sometimes, Old-Fashioned Pays Off". The New York Times. pp. AR19. Retrieved 18 January 2015.
  12. ^ "'The O.C.' Cancelled Due to Poor Ratings". FoxNews. January 4, 2007. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  13. ^ Benjamin McKenzie Us Weekly Magazine BiographyUs Weekly. Archived March 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Benjamin McKenzie set to star in Pacific Air 121". MovieWeb. Archived from the original on November 12, 2007. Retrieved February 4, 2008.
  15. ^ "Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun" (PDF). Variety. Retrieved December 30, 2014.
  16. ^ Andreea, Nellie (February 8, 2014). "Ben McKenzie to Star As Detective James Gordon in Fox's Batman Series 'Gotham'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 8, 2014.
  17. ^ "(GTH-316) "Heroes Rise: These Delicate and Dark Obsessions"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  18. ^ "Law Works: The Investigation". June 24, 2019. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  19. ^ Gomez, Patrick (September 21, 2015). "Gotham's Morena Baccarin and Benjamin McKenzie Dating". People. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  20. ^ Lovece, Frank (September 28, 2015). "Morena Baccarin, Ben McKenzie plan to marry, her divorce docs say". Newsday. Retrieved September 28, 2015.
  21. ^ Mandell, Andrea (March 11, 2016). "Exclusive: Morena Baccarin, Ben McKenzie welcome baby girl". USA Today. Archived from the original on May 12, 2016. Retrieved May 5, 2016.
  22. ^ Jordan, Julie (June 7, 2017). "Morena Baccarin and Ben McKenzie Are Married!". People.
  23. ^ "People's Choice Awards 2015 hosts, nominees announced". November 4, 2014. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  24. ^ "NOMINEES & WINNERS". People's Choice Awards. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  25. ^ Moreau, Jordan (19 June 2019). "'Avengers: Endgame,' 'Riverdale,' 'Aladdin' Top 2019 Teen Choice Award Nominations". Variety. Retrieved 19 July 2019.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gary Oldman
James Gordon Actor
Succeeded by
shared with J. K. Simmons (DCEU)