How high, Mr. Spelling?

When the creative force behind Beverly Hills 90210 comes calling, you don't hold out for little extras like a finished script

by Brenda Bouw,
August 8, 2000, National Post (Canada)

It is not often a young actor turns down an offer from Aaron Spelling, the Hollywood starmaker behind Charlie's Angels, Beverly Hills 90210 and other TV hits.

So Kevin Zegers didn't.

"I don't have the script yet so I don't know what to expect," says Zegers, a 15-year-old from Woodstock, Ont. "He just asked me if I wanted to be in this show, so what am I going to say? 'Sorry, Mr. Spelling, I am going to turn down you and your massive-budget TV show?' And besides, it is NBC."

The show, Titans, debuts this fall. Zegers plays the badass nephew of Gwen, played by former Dallas star Victoria Principal. His character, Ethan, who had an abusive father and was left behind by his mother, debuts in the third episode.

After years of co-starring with dogs in the Air Bud movies and monkeys in the upcoming release MVP (Most Valuable Primate), Zegers is eager to change his nice-guy, friend-of-animals onscreen reputation. "I'm getting away from that type of thing," says the handsome teen with blond hair, chiselled face and boyish grin. "It has been great, but ..."

Zegers says he agreed to do MVP -- which opens nationally on Friday -- because he liked the "cute script" about a monkey who learns to play hockey, but he has already made it clear he will not appear in the sequel, which will go ahead if MVP makes money.

Zegers also played young Jim Hawkins in the 1997 adaptation of Treasure Island, and "the kid" in the 1999 independent film Four Days with Lolita Davidovitch. His first movie was 1993's Life With Mikey, where he played the young version of fellow Canadian Michael J. Fox's character. (His first acting job was at age five in a commercial for Toronto's Fairview Mall.)

Zegers is counting on Titans to help him land more mature movie scripts. Spelling has a knack for transforming sweet child actors, such as Shannen Doherty, who once played Jenny Wilder on Little House on the Prairie before being cast as bitchy Brenda on 90210. Doherty has gone on to play edgier roles in films, and now plays a witch in the TV series Charmed.

Zegers says Titans is a lot like 90210. It's been described as a nighttime soap opera similar to Dallas and Dynasty, and follows the twisted relationships of a wealthy Beverly Hills family made up of divorced millionaire Richard Williams (Perry King) and his ex-wife Gwen (Principal) who lives just across the street with their two daughters. The show also stars Yasmine Bleeth (Nash Bridges), and Casper Van Dien (Starship Troopers).

Zegers is looking forward to working with the cast, including Bleeth, a former Baywatch babe, whom he describes as a "honey." Zegers also worked with Bleeth in the 1999 TV movie It Came from the Sky.

He leaves this month for Los Angeles to begin shooting Titans, and will live in the City of Angels for most of the year, while his mother and father take turns staying with him, leaving their two daughters, Katie, who is also into acting, and Krista, back in Woodstock.

Since the show could run as long as seven years, Zegers says, it will be the longest amount of time he will be away from home to further his acting career. He was able to attend high school in Woodstock last semester, but will finish his degree over the next year or two using tutors in California, which he is not keen on. "Going to class is a lot easier; with a tutor you have to figure out stuff by yourself," says Zegers, calling it one of the few drawbacks of his career.

He also finds Hollywood too pretentious. "I find it difficult, and I don't feel much like ass-kissing, which is why I like to come home as much as possible. People here are just real."

Zegers says he plans to keep going to school, to become either a teacher or doctor. "I need something to fall back on. I see me doing this for a while, but I want to have a family and kids someday, and I don't think this industry has a very good family atmosphere," he says. "When all is said and done I'm going to be living in Canada with a wife and kids, hopefully."