James Marsden, a multifaceted actor renowned for portraying diverse characters in both movies and TV shows, ranging from superhero roles to romantic comedy leads, has garnered attention for his recent portrayal as Ben Wood in the Netflix series Dead to Me. Notably, his character is marked by distinctive chest scars.

What are the scars on James Marsden’s chest?

In the Netflix series Dead to Me, James Marsden portrays Ben Wood, the benevolent and insecure twin brother of Steve Wood, whose demise was orchestrated by Jen Harding (Christina Applegate) in the first season. Ben, a compassionate veterinarian, becomes romantically involved with Jen, oblivious to her connection to his brother’s demise.

Ben’s chest bears several conspicuous scars, a revelation he shares with Jen in the second season. He discloses that he was born with a congenital heart condition, leading to seven childhood surgeries. Expressing that he felt like Steve inherited all the confidence in the womb, leaving him with the heart defect, Ben recounts wearing turtlenecks at the beach to conceal his scars from girls.

These scars serve as a poignant symbol, distinguishing Ben from the self-assured and arrogant real estate agent, Steve. Additionally, they offer insight into Ben’s vulnerability and resilience, showcasing his ability to overcome a challenging childhood while maintaining a compassionate nature.

Are James Marsden’s scars real?

Contrary to his character Ben, James Marsden does not possess any authentic chest scars. The scars are a result of makeup and costume design for the show. As revealed by Netflix Tudum, Marsden intentionally adopted a more reserved posture while portraying Ben, in deliberate contrast to Steve’s open and relaxed body language.

In an interview with Netflix Tudum, Marsden expressed his enjoyment in portraying two visually similar yet diametrically opposed characters. He shared that he leveraged Ben’s lack of confidence and self-doubt to emphasize distinct differences between him and Steve.

How did fans react to James Marsden’s scars?

Numerous Dead to Me fans were intrigued by James Marsden’s scars and questioned their authenticity. Some admirers commended Marsden for his portrayal of Ben and expressed empathy for the character’s tragic backstory.

Certain viewers speculated whether the scars held a pivotal role in the season three plot, which premiered on November 17, 2022. Some pondered if Steve might still be alive, and Ben was impersonating him, or vice versa. However, the show did not incorporate such a twist, confirming Steve’s demise and Ben’s survival.

Season three of the show did not extensively focus on Ben’s scars, as the narrative predominantly revolved around Jen and Judy’s (Linda Cardellini) endeavors to conceal Steve’s murder and address their personal challenges. Nevertheless, Ben continued to play a significant role in the season finale, concluding with a cliffhanger involving him and Jen.


James Marsden, a versatile actor known for his diverse roles, showcased his acting prowess in Dead to Me as Ben Wood. Portraying a character with chest scars stemming from a heart defect, Marsden’s scars were, in fact, a makeup creation for the show. These scars served as a visual element to differentiate Ben from his twin brother Steve, offering insights into his character’s background and personality. Fans were intrigued by the scars, and Marsden received appreciation for his compelling portrayal of Ben.