Although Hollywood attempted to embrace him as a disposable teen heartthrob, Benjamin McKenzie chose to follow the path of a serious actor instead, and his intense persona set him apart from his flashier peers. Born in Austin, TX, Benjamin McKenzie Schenkkan was the son of Mary France Victory and Pieter Meade Schenkkan. Artistry ran in his family; his mother was a poet, his uncle was a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and his paternal grandparents were both theater actors. After playing football at Austin High School, he studied foreign affairs and economics at the University of Virginia, where his interest in acting began. Appearing in several theatrical productions, including "Zoo Story" and Shakespeare's "Measure for Measure," McKenzie's passion gelled, and after graduation he moved to New York City to pursue the stage. He appeared off-Broadway in "Life is a Dream" at the SoHo Rep and in multiple productions at the Williamstown Theatre Festival, including "Street Scene" and "The Blue Bird." Soon Los Angeles beckoned, and McKenzie headed West to try his luck on the TV audition circuit. Ironically, an unsuccessful audition for a UPN sitcom put McKenzie on the radar of the casting agents who would change his life. "The O.C." (FOX , 2003-07) was already a highly buzzed-about project, a glossy teen drama with the distinction of being the brainchild of the youngest creator of a TV show in history, the wunderkind Josh Schwartz. McKenzie's electrifying audition convinced producers to take the enormous gamble of resting a brand-new television show on the shoulders of an unknown, and the hype machine kicked into overdrive with the actor's brooding mug soon becoming inescapable. Happily, the show delivered on all fronts, becoming watercooler television that minted each of its lead actors as instant celebrities. McKenzie then took a supporting role in the Southern family drama "Junebug" (2005). He jumped at the chance to work with his idol, Al Pacino, in the real-time thriller "88 Minutes" (2007) and tackled the ultra-demanding "live on stage, on film" solo piece "Johnny Got His Gun" (2008). McKenzie continued to make choices based on the work rather than on prestige, playing a rookie cop on the sprawling, challenging LAPD drama "Southland" (NBC, 2009; TNT, 2010-13). After "Southland" came to a close in 2013, McKenzie co-starred in post-apocalyptic drama "Goodbye World" (2013) and romantic comedy "Some Kind of Beautiful" (2014) before returning to television as future police commissioner James Gordon in the Batman origin story "Gotham" (Fox 2014-2019). At the start of the show's second season, McKenzie appeared in the gossip columns when it was revealed that he had begun a relationship with his co-star Morena Baccarin, who announced that she was expecting the couple's first child in September 2015. The couple were married in 2017 and had a second child in 2021. McKenzie went on to star alongside Aaron Eckhart and Courtney Eaton in "Line of Duty" (2019).