The offspring of actress Patty Duke and actor/director/writer John Astin and brother of actor Sean Astin, Mackenzie Astin was perhaps destined to be a performer. Born and raised in L.A., Mackenzie began as a child and teen actor on TV in the early 1980s with roles in the TV movie Lois Gibbs and the Love Canal (1982), and the girls' prep-school sitcom The Facts of Life. Astin moved to feature films in the 1990s with a spate of roles in Hollywood studio films, including the lead in the Disney adventure Iron Will (1994). After substantial parts in two high-profile box-office disappointments, Terms of Endearment sequel The Evening Star (1996) and the Sandra Bullock-Chris O'Donnell historical romance In Love and War (1996), Astin focused on work in more idiosyncratic independent films. Astin's boyish good looks made him deceptively "perfect boyfriend" material in the romantic comedy Dream for an Insomniac (1998), and he played a hapless male in the mockumentary Mating Habits of the Earthbound Human (1999). Astin particularly enhanced his indie record with his performance as one of the young preppies negotiating The Last Days of Disco (1998), the final part of Whit Stillman's trilogy dissecting the mating habits of Manhattan's haute bourgeoisie. Astin returned to TV in the late 1990s as shooting victim Kevin McCarthy in the docudrama The Long Island Incident (1998), and in the civil-rights drama Selma Lord Selma (1999).