Childhood & Early Life
Thomas Hunter Campbell McDonell was born on May 2, 1986, in Manhattan, New York, US, to Terry McDonell and Joan Raffeld. His father is of Scottish and Swedish descent and has served as an editor at the ‘Time Inc. Sports Group.’ His mother, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland and Lithuania, is a writer. He has an elder brother named Nick McDonell, who followed in the footsteps of their mother to become a writer. Nick has worked as a journalist, novelist, screenwriter, researcher, and producer.
Some sources mention that at one point, while his parents were facing difficulties in their marriage, they had sent McDonell and his brother to live with his mother’s family for a while. This was done to make sure that the troubling atmosphere at home did not affect the children negatively.
McDonell attended an Andover, Massachusetts-based boarding school. It was there that he first got introduced to acting. In school, he was academically good and excelled in drama and acting, too. He also played hockey. However, after suffering a major leg injury while in eighth grade, McDonell had to give up playing sports for good.
Since an early age, McDonell took part in musical plays in church every Sunday. He also performed at local theaters. He later studied fine arts at the ‘New York University’ and completed his graduation, majoring in theater.
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McDonell played the role of young “Southie” in the 2008-released Chinese–American fantasy kung fu wuxia film ‘The Forbidden Kingdom.’ It was the first film starring Jackie Chan and Jet Li together.
He appeared in the Chace Crawford-starrer American–French action drama ‘Twelve.’ It premiered at the ‘Sundance Film Festival’ on January 29, 2010, and later released in the US in August that year. Meanwhile, the same year, McDonell appeared as ‘Eddie Boyle’ in a single episode of the American police-procedural TV drama ‘Law & Order: Criminal Intent,’ titled ‘Broad Channel.’
He starred opposite Aimee Teegarden, as ‘Jesse Richter,’ the school bad boy, in the Joe Nussbaum-directed American teen romantic comedy–drama ‘Prom.’ The film was released by ‘Walt Disney Pictures’ on April 29, 2011, and became a commercial success. However, it received mixed to negative reviews from critics.
The 2012 American hit horror–comedy film ‘Dark Shadows,’ starring Johnny Depp and Michelle Pfeiffer, featured McDonell in an uncredited role.
The Josh Schwartz-directed American teen comedy ‘Fun Size,’ which released on October 26, 2012, saw McDonell starring as ‘Aaron Riley,’ alongside Victoria Justice, Osric Chau, Jane Levy, Riki Lindhome, Thomas Mann, Chelsea Handler, and Jackson Nicoll. The film, however, failed to succeed at the box office.
Between 2012 and 2013, he played the recurring role of ‘Scott Strauss’ in the first and the second seasons of the Emily Kapnek-created and ‘ABC’-aired American sitcom ‘Suburgatory.’
He essayed the role of ‘Dan’ in the 2014 American zombie comedy ‘Life after Beth.’ However, his scenes were deleted from the film before its release. Some of his other film projects are ‘Where the Devil Hides’ and ‘I'm Obsessed with You.’
McDonell bagged the role of ‘Finn Collins,’ one of the most memorable roles of his career, in the American post-apocalyptic science-fiction TV drama ‘The 100.’ He co-starred along with Clarke Griffin in the first and the second seasons (2014–2015) of the series. It premiered on ‘The CW’ on March 19, 2014.
He performed as ‘Spc. Carl Wild’ in the American drama miniseries ‘The Long Road Home,’ which aired on ‘National Geographic’ for eight episodes, from November 7, 2017, to December 19 that year.
In 2018, he featured as ‘Justin’ in an episode of the American sitcom ‘LA to Vegas,’ titled ‘Things to Do in Vegas When You're Grounded.’ He also appeared as ‘Brian’ in an episode of the American crime comedy–drama series ‘Good Girls,’ titled ‘Taking Care of Business.’
McDonell has also made his mark as a musician and a visual artist. He is a member of the band ‘Moon’ and performs as its lead vocalist and guitarist. He has showcased his work on visual arts globally. He has also curated many exhibitions. These include a monochrome painting exhibition at the ‘ArcLight Hollywood’ movie theater complex, a video art show at a ‘Best Buy’ outlet in New York, and a tunnel exhibition at the ‘Southwest Museum’ in Los Angeles.
He has directed the shorts ‘The Flying Carsons: Part 1 – Hunter’ and ‘Carfucker.’ He has composed for the short ‘Good Luck in the Land of Mañana.’