Zachary Brendan McGowan is an American actor, born in New York City, NY on May 5, 1980. He was born to Brenda McGowan, a flight attendant, and Vincent McGowan, a former Marine. He has two older brothers, Doug and Matt McGowan.
Zach attributes a lot of his success to his family and the way that he was raised. He may have been the baby of the family, but he was never treated as such. Instead, Zach was taught that if you want something you have to fight for it, and that if you get knocked down you get back up. “Wrestling and getting beaten up by my two older brothers made up my childhood. They prepared me for life.”
Growing up Zach always had a passion for acting and athletics. He was heavily involved in both at Fieldston School in the Bronx. He did his first play, The Wind in the Willows, when he was in the 4th grade, playing the role of Badger. Once he moved to Fieldston Upper he was the captain of both the ice hockey, and football teams.
After high school Zach attended Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where he majored in American Studies. A large reason Zach chose Carleton was because it allowed him to continue following both of his passions. “I loved that it was okay to be on the football team and act at the same time. A lot of the other places I looked at were not like that at all.” His freshman year he was a linebacker for the school’s football team, but eventually decided to leave the team so that he could put all his energy into acting. It was while attending Carleton that he met his wife Emily Johnson.
Zach graduated college in 2002, and decided to move back to New York with Emily. He continued to pursue acting through the theatre, taking part in numerous off Broadway plays. He supported himself by bartending and substitute teaching. One of the after-school teachers he worked with was also a film director. Zach asked him if he wanted to attend one of his plays. Obviously liking what he saw, he invited Zach to do a film (The Hunt for Eagle One) in the Philippines. “From January to June of 2005, I ran around the jungle with a gun in my hand, repelling out of helicopters and saying really cheesy lines.”
After he finished filming he asked Emily if she would move to Los Angeles with him so he could more seriously pursue his acting career. Once in Los Angeles Zach got a job serving for an up and coming catering company called Caramelized Productions. He eventually worked his way up to a line cook. In 2007 the owners of the company, Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo, were presented with the opportunity to compete against Cat Cora on the Food Network’s Iron Chef America. Zach was invited to be a sous chef for the episode. While they didn’t win the competition, they did earn a series with the network called 2 Dudes Catering. Zach appeared on the show, but it was soon cancelled.
Although Zach kept himself busy with work and auditions his relationship with Emily stayed strong. On September 27, 2008 they were married in Santa Barbara, CA. They would later have two daughters together, Elsie and Nellie. Meanwhile, Zach continued working in Los Angeles and found a niche doing voice acting. He received a lot of voice over and video game work. In between voice projects he did guest appearances on television shows such as Num3ers, CSI: Miami, Cold Case, Body of Proof, and Dating Rules from My Future Self. He also had a small role in the film Terminator Salvation.
In 2011 Zach was cast in Showtime’s hit television show Shameless. The dramedy centers around six children and their alcoholic deadbeat father. The children are forced to fend for themselves with hilariously “shameless” antics, and some serious sometimes heartbreaking issues at its core. Zach landed the role of recovering sex addict Jody Silverman. Jody comes off a bit dense, but despite his proclivities he is a genuinely good guy with a big heart. After originally being promised only four episodes, he was so well liked that he was promoted to a series-regular and remained on the show for twenty-four episodes.
After Shameless, Zach received roles in the films Friended to Death, Snapshot, and Dracula Untold, but it was in 2014 when he was cast in STARZ’s television series Black Sails that he truly received his breakout role. The series was a loose prequel mixed with true events that lead toHe perfectly portrayed the villainous pirate who many people (myself included) eventually grew to love.
Zach’s career has continued to flourish. He went on become a series-regular on The 100 as King Roan and a reoccurring character on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as Anton Ivanov. He currently has numerous projects in the works including films The Scorpion King: Book of Souls, Robert the Bruce, and the Bad Boys spinoff television series LA’s Finest. I have a feeling we can look forward to seeing a lot more of Zach on both the big and small screen.
Written by Victoria
Last updated on July 14, 2018.
Credits: IMDB, Wikipedia, Zooey Magazine April 2013, Muscle & Fitness January 2014, Cigar Snob January/February 2014, OK Magazine February 2, 2015, UFC Magazine February/March 2015, Robert Irvine Magazine July/August 2016, LA Weekly, The Carletonian, Punk Globe, The StarTribune, Fortress of Solitude