Junebug's Benjamin McKenzie

When Benjamin McKenzie scored his breakout gig on The O.C. in 2003, his performance as a brooding teen won him comparisons to Russell Crowe. But in recent seasons, his Ryan Atwood character has become more like McKenzie himself: smart (the actor, an ‘01 University of Virginia grad, majored in economics) and slyly funny (on the Crowe comments: “I’m glad to be compared to him and not Carrot Top”). The Austin native, 26, who plays another angry young man in the new indie film Junebug, talked to PEOPLE about Southern pride and the benefits of sulking.