Who is Mackenzie Astin?
Mackenzie Astin is an American actor, best known as ‘Andy Moffett’ from the popular TV series ‘The Facts of Life.’ Astin’s parents were both renowned Hollywood actors, so it was natural for him to follow suit and take up the family profession. He started his acting career on TV at an early age and continues to work mostly on the small screen. As a child actor, he had to grapple with some choices made, in terms of the projects he was associated with. In an interview, reflecting on the work he did during those early years, he revealed that it took him a lot of time to dissociate from certain roles he played, especially the one in the movie ‘The Garbage Pail Kids.’ He took a break for a brief period to complete his education. After his return, he was seen in a number of popular TV shows, such as ‘Lost,’ ‘House,’ ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Prime Suspect,’ ‘NCIS,’ and ‘Criminal Minds.’ He now writes and stars in his own ‘Super 8’ films.
Childhood & Early Life
Mackenzie Alexander Astin was born on May 12, 1973, in Los Angeles, California, to ‘Academy Award’-winning actor Patty Duke and John Astin. His half-brother Sean Astin is also an actor and was featured in ‘The Lord of the Rings.’ Mackenzie is of English, Irish, Scottish, and German descent.
Young Mackenzie would often visit Patty and Sean, who was only 10 at the time, on the sets of movies and TV shows. Watching them work and mesmerized by the world of entertainment, Mackenzie implored his parents to allow him to join the family team at age 8.
His parents divorced in 1985, when he was just 12 years old. He attended the ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson Middle School’ and the ‘University High School’ in Los Angeles. He played ‘Little League Baseball’ during his high-school days. This, according to Astin, taught him a lot about teamwork.
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Mackenzie Astin was first seen on TV at age 9, in the made-for-TV film ‘Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal’ (1982). He appeared as ‘Jeremy Warren’ in one of the episodes of ‘ABC’s drama series ‘Finder of Lost Loves’ in 1984.
At the age of 12, Astin found his big break in one of ‘NBC’s longest-running sitcoms, ‘The Facts of Life’ (1979–1988). He was first introduced in 1985, in the recurring role of ‘Andy Moffett,’ in the sixth season of the show. By the seventh season, however, ‘Moffett’ was made a series-regular character. He remained in the series till its end in 1988. His performance in the series helped him win the ‘Young Artist Award’ in 1986.
He also worked with his mother, Patty Duke, in one of the episodes of the ‘ABC’ sitcom ‘Hail to the Chief’ (1985). The same year, he appeared in ‘NBC’s TV movie ‘I Dream of Jeannie – Fifteen Years Later’ and in two episodes of the drama series ‘Hotel.’
He made his debut on the silver screen in 1987, with the ‘The Garbage Pail Kids Movie,’ infamous for being one of the worst movies ever made. Astin was nearly traumatized due to his association with the film.
He took a break from acting in 1988, to finish high school. He resumed his film career in 1994, with movies such as ‘Iron Will’ (with legendary actor Kevin Spacey) and the western ‘Wyatt Earp’ (with Kevin Costner). Before ‘Iron Will,’ he had appeared in the TV movie ‘A Child Lost Forever: The Jerry Sherwood Story’ in 1992.
His next release was a comedy–drama named ‘The Evening Star’ (1996), with Shirley Maclaine. Astin met with a car accident during the filming of the movie and lost the top edge of his right ear. He had to be fitted with a prosthetic attachment to maintain consistency for the rest of the film.
For a while, most of his work was on TV, as a guest artist in series and made-for-TV movies. He appeared in movies such as ‘The Last Days of Disco’ (1998), ‘The Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human’ (1999), and ‘How to Deal’ (2003).
Beginning in 2005, he appeared in a number of top-notch shows, such as ‘Lost’ (2005), ‘House’ (2006), ‘Justice’ (2006), ‘Psych’ (2009), ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ (2011), ‘Prime Suspect’ (2011), ‘NCIS’ (2012), ‘Criminal Minds’ (2012), and ‘Bones’ (2013).
Between 2005 and 2010, he also worked with his father, John Astin, in the ‘Program of Theatre Arts and Studies’ at ‘Johns Hopkins University.’
From 2014 to 2017, Astin was seen in the recurring role of ‘Noah Baker,’ a broadcast journalist, in the third season of the political thriller ‘Scandal.’ He appeared in one of the episodes of ‘Mad Men’ in 2015. The following year, he bagged yet another recurring role, in the TV adaption of Lev Grossman’s fantasy novel ‘The Magician.’ In 2018, he appeared in the political thriller ‘Homeland,’ as ‘Bill Dunn,’ brother-in-law of the lead character of the series.
Family & Personal Life
He is married to Jennifer Abbott Astin since 2011.
Both the Astin brothers made guest appearances in one of the episodes of the crime series ‘NCIS’ in 2003.