Zachary Brendan McGowan

Zach McGowan

Zach McGowan is an American actor known for his roles in television, film, and voice work, gaining fame from appearances in series like “Shameless” and “Black Sails.” Zach’s voice has also featured in video games such as “Resident Evil 6” and “Iron Man.” Though McGowan’s filmography isn’t extensive, the roles he has played are imbued with a unique charisma and appeal. A distinctive trait of the actor is his wolf-like gaze and a rich vocal tone.

What we know about this person

Full name:

Zachary Brendan McGowan

Date of birth:

May 5, 1980

Zodiac sign:



New York City, New York, USA





Marital status:

Married to Emily Johnson




6' (1.83 m)



Early life

Zach McGowan (Zachary Brendan McGowan) was born in 1980 in New York City, where he also spent his childhood. Zach’s parents lacked artistic inclinations; his mother Brenda worked for “American Airlines,” while his father served in the United States Marine Corps. Zach also has older brothers: Doug and Matt.

McGowan has Russian-Jewish roots from his mother’s side and Irish-American from his father’s. From a young age, the future actor was robust and lively. At the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, he was the captain of the football and hockey teams. Additionally, he was interested in martial arts, taking up boxing and jiu-jitsu as a teenager, skills that later proved useful for action scenes in his acting career.

Zach displayed acting talent early on, participating in his school’s theater club and drama group. After graduating from high school, he attended Carleton College, where he continued to play football. He later studied at the Northfield School of Arts. Zach returned to his native New York with a dream to conquer Broadway.

In 2003, he auditioned for several Broadway projects. However, as sometimes happens, not every actor is lucky on their first try. Many aspire to stardom, but great roles are scarce. Although McGowan received offers in Broadway productions, making a living from this was challenging. He decided to postpone his grand aspirations for better times and earn money in the meantime, choosing a new path—culinary arts.

Zach approached his culinary profession with patience and perseverance. Starting from basic positions, he refined his skills and soon became a chef, leading kitchens in prestigious establishments on both the east and west coasts. In 2005, Zach moved to Los Angeles, where fortune finally smiled upon him. Gradually, the budding actor began to secure small roles, starting to make appearances in films.


Zach McGowan in The 100


Zach McGowan embarked on his acting career in 2006 with a role as Bryan Clyde in the movie “The Hunt for Eagle One.” That same year, McGowan was fortunate to land the role of Jackson in the sequel “The Hunt for Eagle One: Crash Point,” directed by Henry Crum. Following this, McGowan shifted focus to television shows, temporarily stepping away from films.

In 2007, audiences first saw Zach on their TV screens participating in the reality show “Two Dudes Catering.” That year, he also appeared in the popular TV series “CSI: Miami,” where he played the role of Kurt Greenfield. The following year, McGowan ventured into voice acting, lending his voice to the adventure video game “Iron Man.”

In 2009, McGowan featured in the film “Terminator Salvation,” directed by McG. While Christian Bale and Sam Worthington played the lead roles, Zach portrayed a pilot in a small episode. Nevertheless, this was a significant step forward. This was followed by “Losing Control” by Valerie Weiss and “Conception,” a short film. For three consecutive years, from 2009 to 2011, Zach served as the host of the Scream Awards show.

The role that truly made McGowan famous was Jody Silverman in the series “Shameless,” developed by John Wells. In the popular TV novel, the actor played the husband of Karen (Laura Slade Wiggins)—Jody Silverman, a tattoo artist struggling with sexual addiction. Zach excellently handled the controversial role, reassuring viewers with a laugh: “Nudity is just part of the job.”


Zach McGowan in Shameless

Zachary Brendan McGowan Movies and TV Shows

  • 2018

    The Walking Dead


  • 2018

    The Scorpion King: Book of Souls


  • 2017

    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Anton Ivanov / The Superior

  • 2016–2018

    The 100


  • 2014–2016

    Black Sails

    Charles Vane

  • 2014

    Dracula Untold


  • 2012–2013


    Jody Silverman

  • 2011

    Body of Proof

    Vincent Stone

  • 2009

    Terminator Salvation


  • 2008

    CSI: Miami

    Kurt Greenfield


Zach McGowan in Black Sails

The series “Black Sails”

Yet, McGowan’s star moment was yet to come. From 2014 to 2017, Zach McGowan took part in the filming of the series “Black Sails,” where he played a central role. Zach embodied a pirate captain – a cruel, cynical, and greedy robber. The suspenseful, colorful action series immersed the audience in the enchanting adventures of sailors. It was the early 18th century, the golden age of piracy.

Interestingly, a deciding factor for McGowan’s casting in this role was his ability to give his American speech a British accent, as required by the character’s traits. The creators’ choice of actor was spot-on. With a menacing expressiveness of gaze, vivid facial expressions, and a recognizable gait, McGowan filled the character with his own colors, overshadowing even Johnny Depp’s Jack Sparrow.

In fact, such a gentleman existed in reality—Charles Vane’s prototype robbed ships, insatiably claimed treasures, for which he was killed by his own crew. Concurrently with filming in “Black Sails,” McGowan appeared in the series “The 100,” playing the role of Roan. From 2017 to 2018, Zach joined the cast of the series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” playing Anton Ivanov. During the same period, the movie “Death Race: Beyond Anarchy” directed by Don Michael Paul was released, where he once again played the lead role.

Zach McGowan’s personal life and family

Zach McGowan is married to Emily Johnson. The couple met and fell in love during their time at Northfield College in Minnesota. They married in the beautiful mountains of Santa Barbara in 2008, after a 9-year romance. Zach and Emily are raising a son and three daughters. On social media, the actor generously shares family photos. Fans are delighted by what a wonderful father he is and how he teaches his older girls to skateboard.

The older daughters, Elsie and Nellie, were born two years apart. The younger, Winnie and Josie, are twins born in October 2019. Zach lovingly posts photos of his children, never missing important events related to them—like the first day of school, etc. The family travels a lot, and fans catch every new post by their idol. Even the McGowan’s pet dog, Sophie, is popular with the public.


Zach McGowan with wife and children

Zach McGowan now

Zach McGowan – Roan from “The 100,” Jody from “Shameless,” Charles from “Black Sails,” Connor from “Death Race” – is now in excellent physical shape. He is full of energy and can play any bad boy – from a gangster to a desperately mad king. That’s because imagining Zach in any other role besides a vividly strong character is impossible.

The actor’s voice, with its thrilling rasp, can be heard in commercials, video games, and animated projects with voiceovers. In 2023, he starred in “The Rookie: Feds” series. This is currently Zach’s last role. Fans love him so much that they themselves inundate directors with suggestions to cast McGowan in various roles. This happened with the series “The Witcher” (2019), but Henry Cavill was ultimately cast.

Among his latest notable roles, McGowan appeared in “The Scorpion King: Book of Souls,” where he played the Scorpion King Mathayus. In 2019, he also starred in “L.A.’s Finest,” directed by Mark Tonderai. That same year, he took on the role of Justin in “The Walking Dead” and played Brandubh in the Scottish historical drama “Robert the Bruce,” directed by Richard Gray.

Published: April 2, 2024
Updated: April 17, 2024