Kevin Zegers
Kevin Zegers (Photo by Doug Inglish)

By Selma Blair
For Interview Magazine (March 2006)
Photographs by Doug Inglish

After years spent having his scenes stolen by a slam-dunking golden retriever, the former child actor was ready to quit. Now with two gener-busting movies, his dog days may be over.

Until reently, Kevin Zegers was known primarily for his ability to gengage a golden retriever in a quick pick-up game of hoops. As the child star of the Air Bud film franchise, Zegers exuded a sweetness and adorability only just barely matched by his furry co-star.

Last year, however, the 21-year-old Canadian actor threw all that to the wind with his brooding, comical and touching turn as the street hustler son of pre-op transsexual Bree (Felicity Huffman) in the transgender-buddy-road-trip flick Transamerica. As further proof that his sticky-sweet Hallmark days are history, Zegers recently wrapped another gender-bending romantic comedy It's a Boy Girl Thing.

Actress Selma Blair recently stopped by the Interview offices and met up with Zegers for a chat.

Selma Blair: Hey Kevin, so how long are you here in New York?
Kevin Zegers: I'm only here for three days.

SB: Do you live in L.A. or Canada?
KZ: I live in L.A.

SB: How do you like it?
KZ: I've lived in Studio City for four years and I like it a little bit more now. I wanted to slit my wrists when I first moved there. For three years I lived at the Highland Gardens, which is a hotel in Hollywood. So I pretty much pissed away every cent I made as a kid on hotel rooms.

SB: I can live on very little in L.A. New York is amazing, but I think if I were going to live here, I would hope to be fantastically wealthy - you spend a lot of time indoors and you better darn well like your apartment. I'm working with Ed Burns here right now, and it's really hard when you're shooting a movie and you're living in a 10-by-12-foot room.
KZ: How long are you filming?

SB: It's a short shoot because it's pretty low budget, but I love it. I love Eddie Burns and I love Patrick Wilson. And this isn't my interview but apparently I'm trying to make it mine. [both laugh] So, first of all, how important was it that you got to do Transamerica?
KZ: Well, you can probably attest to this, because it's the selfish thing every actor does. You read something and you think, I can't have anyone else get this job. The script was so good. After the director, Duncan Tucker, initially said, "No, you're not right for it," I stalked him for a month.

SB: See, if I stalked someone, I definitely wouldn't get the job [laughs] But I've felt that way with a couple movies that I've fallen for.
KZ: I just wasn't okay with the idea of not getting it. I don't want to say it was a last-ditch effort, but in a way, I felt that this might be it for me. I had taken a lot of time off from acting and didn't know whether I was over it or not or whether I wanted to go back to school and just call it a day. At the time I had been working for 13 years, and I was just kind of like, "Ech...there's got to be something else." But then I read the script, and I wanted to exhaust everything that I could to be a part of it. Since then I've enjoyed working a little bit more. It's more fun when you work harder.

SB: Transamerica inspired you to keep at it.
KZ: I'm not okay with watching bad stuff anymore, or reading bad stuff, or seeing bad performances. I think it's crap. Especially when you're the one doing it. As an actor, you kind of know when you're just showing up and chiseling your way through the day. So when you have something that makes you think, Oh, my God, I cannot fuck this up, it's a good place to be. I think it's best for actors to be scared shitless.

SB: Felicity Huffman is so funny in it.
KZ: It scared the crap out of me how hard she worked. She's a genius. And I love that the movie is funny. I mean, if I heard there was a movie about a transsexual going to find her son, I'd be like, "My God! That sounds miserable!"

SB: I think I'd be scared away. [both laugh] It sounds so bizarre, but you're right.
KZ: There are so many moments in the movie where half the audience is laughing and half is gasping, and I think that's perfect.

SB: I'm sure people will be talking about your performance for a long time.
KZ: Well, right now I just want to go back to Los Angeles and disappear for a month. I don't want to do anything or read anything. I think I'm just going to wait. It could be a really bad decision and I could end up regretting it, but I've just seen too many of my friends -

SB: Build up on the hype and make a bunch of stuff just to have their "moment."
KZ: Right. And to be honest, after you do a film like this, someone will offer you a lot of money to do a movie, and it's hard to say no to money. My dad works in a lime quarry. He doesn't make a lot. I mean he makes good money in the grand scheme of things...

SB: But it's not big Hollywood money.
KZ: That's why anytime I got an offer and I would tell my parents, my dad was always like, "You've gotta do it, you've gotta do it," and I'd say, "I can't do it. The script sucks. I'll never work again. So it'll have to be enough money to last me for the rest of my life." [Blair laughs] So now I don't even tell them if I get an offer.

SB: In your next movie, It's a Boy Girl Thing, doesn't your character jump into a girl's body or something?
KZ: It's a body switching movie.

SB: Don't you think it's crazy that you went from Transamerica to that? [both laugh]
KZ: I know, I know. I actually just saw it mostly cut together, and it's quite funny and charming. I'm very proud of it. It was really interesting, because in the past I would've come in and been like, "Let's have fun, and it'll be a good laugh, and we'll make an okay movie." But since this is the next thing people will see after Transamerica, I can't have it be bad. I hate talking about the "honing of the craft," but -

SB: I always get a little creeped out when people say "craft." People will think you're an instand asshole if you start saying "craft."
KZ: Yeah. But after learning from Transamerica what it takes to make something good, if people aren't into the work as much as I am, I'm just not okay with it anymore.

SB: Do you ever feel sick after an interview? Like you've given too much of yourself?
KZ: My publicist always gets mad at me, because I just say whatever I feel.

SB: Have you ever been burned, where you look at it and you're, like, "Oh. My. God"?
KZ: Well, I once said that Dakota Fanning was a freak of nature.

SB [laughs]: She's Hollwood's most important actress right now.
KZ: Yes! And what I meant by it was that she's amazing. You're not supposed to be that good at 10 years old. But I said it at an event with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, with a hundred people sitting there, and they're the ones who vote for the Golden Globes.

SB: Did they get it? Did they laugh?
KZ: They got it, but then of course my publicist came up to me afterward and said, "Yeah, you probably shouldn't drop the 'Dakota Fanning is a freak of nature' thing."

SB: Well, the only people that matter are you and then Dakota Fanning reading it. And she seems smart enough, and a freak of nature enough, to understand what you meant.
KZ: If you can steal a scene from Denzel Washington, you've got something going on.

SB: The whole interview process is very tri in general but I think you're doing very well And the Hollywood Foreign Press scares me. Oh, I shouldn't say that. I might want a Golden Globe someday.
KZ: Yes. I love the Hollywood Foreign Press. They all have cards in the mail from me.


Selma Blair has wrapped Edward Burns' Purple Violets, as well as Night of the Wh Pants opposite Nich Stahl. She is the special West Coast editor at large for Interview.