Karl Edward Makinen Jr., born in Queens, New York to Marilyn and Karl Sr., (aka Detective Eddie Makinen NYPD) moved to Long Island at the age of two. Growing up fishing, swimming, and boating on Lake Ronkonkoma gave him a great childhood. He and his three brothers Michael, Shawn, and Josef did what most boys do, and gave their parents hell. Karl, the third of the four boys, seemed to need the majority of attention in the family and would love to act out his father yelling at his brothers to his great grandmother, producing the greatest laugh that could come from a 90 plus-year-old woman. After performing shows in his basement for the neighborhood kids and enjoying the laughs and reactions he created, Karl became involved in school plays. He performed the lead in Guys and Dolls, Fools, Dracula and many others, winning him the best actor award and a scholarship that he spent in New York City, going to HB studios with his actor high school friend Chris Franjola.
After booking some extra work and being turned down for a few Broadway shows, Karl briefly contemplated his father's wishes of becoming one of New York's finest, but he and Chris ultimately decided it was time to get serious about acting and make the move to Hollywood. Disappointing his father's wishes, the two bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. Landing at LAX with less than two thousand dollars between them, nowhere to stay and not knowing anyone, they slowly made their way. Conversations in phone calls to his family were monopolized by his father insisting he should take the LAPD test and be a cop like his little brother Josef (Graduating class NYPD '93). After getting some small parts in B films, he finally quieted his father's pleas to become a cop, "take the test, take the test, get on the list" when he received a guest-starring role on his father's favorite show, NYPD Blue, playing Jimmy Clayton - cop killer in the first season.