In Hollywood, where every “overnight sensation” tends to take at least ten years to happen, Austin, Texas native Ben McKenzie is riding high on his newfound stardom in the role of Ryan Atwood, a troubled, working class teen encountering a life of privileged wealth in Newport Beach, California. I recently caught up with McKenzie on a break while shooting FOX’s new hit, The O.C. to find out more about his early success after living in Los Angeles for only a year, and how he is handling fame as television’s newest “It” boy.
Lance Avery Morgan: You’re a major part of one of the most popular new shows – is working in TV as cool as you thought it would be?
Ben McKenzie: I didn’t know what to expect. Although it is slower with more downtime on the set, it is still more exciting to shoot on location instead of being cooped up in a theatre. There is a relaxed environment with the crew that was a pleasant surprise – everyone gets along great.
LAM: Josh Schwartz, who created The OC said you’re like a young Russell Crowe to him – do you agree?
BM: If I possess any of his acting qualities, it is absolutely a compliment. Crowe is a terrifically accomplished actor. It is a little strange to be compared to him, though. He’s been doing it for much, longer and it is a little embarrassing.
LAM: Your co-stars are some talented actors who are older than you – Peter Gallagher and Tate Donovan – are you learning more about acting by working with them?
BM: Absolutely – they are the most seasoned on the cast. They are so knowledgeable about the craft of acting and its technical aspects like hitting the marks and not overlapping dialogue. I sit and watch them in the monitors on set – it is extremely useful. Everyday, I am constantly learning and involved.