The Path To Stardom: the Out Magazine Interview

Kevin Zegers, Out Magazine (Jan 2006)
Out Magazine, Jan 2006 issue

(NOTE from cpps90: Filming for It's A Boy Girl Thing took place Oct - Nov 2005 in Toronto and London. Kevin was 21 when this interview was done, ~ Oct 2005. This article contains both the print magazine article and the online article which is different.)

Photographed for Out by David Jensen
Styling by Gregory Wein
Grooming by Beau Nelson @ Plutino Group
Interview by Duncan Tucker
Scans and Transcript by cpps90

Rising Star - From Transamerica Hustler to Mainstream Heartthrob, Kevin Zegers Is Ready to Explode
That cute kid from the Air Bud movies is all grown up and now plays a gay hustler trekking across the country with his transgender father (now a woman) in Transamerica. The hot young actor talks with the movie's openly gay writer-director, Duncan Tucker. With Transamerica, Kevin Zegers goes from child actor to leading man - he plays a queer hustler crossing the country with his transsexual father, who's now his mother.

If Kevin Zegers looks familiar to you, it may be from all those Air Bud movies he starred in opposite canny canines. But with the new Transamerica, Zegers takes on his first adult role (2004's Dawn of the Dead notwithstanding) playing Toby, a queer hustler who enjoys a little heroin and lives on the streets of New York City. Toby's life is turned upside down when an uptight woman named Bree (Felicity Huffman of Desperate Housewives) enters the picture and volunteers to cart Toby back to California with her. Bree is a male-to-female transsexual who is actually Toby's biological father - a secret she is keeping from him. All of which makes for an often hilarious, always uncompromising road-trip movie. Transamerica's gay writer-director, Duncan Tucker, offered to chat with Zegers for us. So while Zegers (who happens to be both Canadian and straight) was on a break from filming It's a Boy Girl Thing in Toronto, Tucker gave him a ring.

Tucker: How did the script of Transamerica first come to you?
Zegers: My manager and agent first sent it to me. They said, "There's this really great script, and everyone is talking about it, but they probably won't hire you, so we thought you'd want to read a good script." I was unemployed at the time, and I thought I'd read a good script. I read it, and I thought I could pull it off. So I put myself on tape and mailed it to you.

But before you put yourself on tape we actually met. You'd been working since you were, what, 8 years old?
Six [Laughs]

So we had a meeting rather than an audition at the Chateau Marmont in Los Angeles. I took one look at you in your jeans and tight T-shirt and messed-up hiar, and I thought, No way in hell. This guy is ridiculously good-looking.
I wasn't prepared for that. I'm so stupid with meetings. You have to be able to go in and show somebody that you can look and act like what they're looking for.

Did you dress like a street hustler when you met me?
I dressed like my image of what I thought a street hustler was. I was very, very wrong with that.

In the meeting you seemed really intelligent, and you had this really vulnerable quality. I saw some great qualities for Toby.
When we met I was 19, and then I made the tape for you. I tried to make myself a bit dirtier. I got stoned in my basement and put myself on tape. I drew dark circles under my eyes and greased my hair up. But then we had a conversation about what I thought about Toby. At the time I was living in L.A. by myself - or with a roommate - and didn't really have any friends, didn't really know who I was. I hadn't really lived much life other than working on sets. So in a lot of ways, as stupid and irrational as it sounded, I think I understood the way that Toby felt.

I remember that converstion. You said something like, "Toby is so unsure of himself that he tries on different personalities like he tries on different shirts to see how they fit."
I would go out at 18 or 19 and pretend to be a different person all the time. I just didn't know what it was that people - if they did like me - liked about me. It's been a couple years since then.

Now that you're an old man of 21 you know exactly who you are.

How did you research Toby?
As soon as I found out I got the part, I came back to Canada, and I was...I wasn't a big kid, but I was a healthy-looking, and I realized I needed to lose a bunch of weight because he was living on the street and doing heroin. And my manager came to Toronto a couple of times and took me out to a bunch of places that are notorious for hustler-john exchanges. So I talked to johns, and I talked to hustlers. I learned so much watching the relationship between them.

Did some of the johns think you were a hustler?
Yeah, I sold myself for $700 that night and then took off running! [Laughs]

Did you hang out on the street at all?
No, it was wintertime. People in Canada don't hang out outside in the wintertime. But it was all much more civilized than I imagined it to be. It's not your standard West Hollywood gay-bar culture. These were guys in business suits that were on their way home to see their wives and families. That shocked me.

Have you ever done such a low-budget, no-frills shoot before?
Probably not this low, no. [Laughs] But we really didn't need that much. If there were trailers and hair and makeup and...

Air-conditioning in Arizona.
Exactly. We didn't need it. It was good for Felicity and me, especially as things progressed. We were always with each other. She would come and give me a kiss on the cheek and say good night to me before she went to bed. I think Felicity may have had a preconceived notion of what I was going to be like, and I hope I wasn't what she expected.

I don't think you were what any of us expected. Remember in New Jersey when the cops pulled us over, and you were in the lead car? You were miked for the camera, and you and Felicity prretended they were arresting you and bringing you into jail?
Felicity was like, "Act really scared." So I was shivering and shaking. "Duncan, they're brining us into jail right now. They're bringing Felicity and me in - in our costumes. They say they don't want to talk to anyone else." You came running over.

I was calling production.
Felicity and I got very close, the same way that Bree and Toby did. By the end you could see we were very comfortable with each other.

Because you grew up doing movies, did you always have gay people in your life?
Yeah, probably half of my friends are gay and probably half are straight. Most of my representation is gay. Most of my close friends in L.A. are gay. I couldn't care less what somebody does when they're in bed with somebody. It's not something that interests me - unless I want to have sex with them. I have much more fun at gay clubs than I do at straight clubs.

What are you working on now?
I am almost finished doing a movie called It's a Boy Girl Thing. It's a body-switching romantic comedy that Elton John is producing with David Furnish, his partner, and Icon Films, Mel Gibson's company.

You switch boy-girl bodies?
Yeah, we're an 18-year-old boy and girl who fucking hate each other. One day we wake up in each other's bodies and have to live each other's lives.

Kevin Zegers gets to show off his feminine side.
We finish here in a week and a half, and then I go to London to finish. David [Furnish] has been on set every day and is a good friend of mine. I think I'm going to be staying with the director and the actress in London at their...villa? Castle? I don't know what they call it. I think Elton was the person who decided he wanted me to do this movie because he saw Transamerica at Cannes. So that's what got me this job. Thanks, Duncan!

You're welcome.


Hustling to Stardom Exclusive: In the new movie Transamerica, Kevin Zegers plays a queer street hustler who longs to hit Hollywood.

by Duncan Tucker

December 5, 2005

Transamerica star Kevin Zegers graces the cover of Out's January issue, interviewed by the writer/director of the film, Duncan Tucker. In the flick, the 21-year-old actor plays Toby, a queer hustler who enjoys a little heroin and lives on the streets in New York City. Toby's life is turned upside-down when an uptight woman named Bree (Desperate Housewives's Felicity Huffman) enters the picture and volunteers to cart Toby back to California with her. Bree is an M-to-F transsexual who is actually Toby's biological father - a secret she is keeping from him. All of which makes for an often-hilarious, always-uncompromising road trip movie. Transamerica's openly gay writer-director, Duncan Tucker, offered to chat with Zegers for us. So, while Zegers (who happens be both Canadian and straight) was on a break from filming It's a Boy Girl Thing in Toronto, Tucker gave him a ring. Here are some exclusive outtakes from the cover story.

Toby's a kid who's had a hard life but he's a survivor. He thinks his body is his only commodity. He doesn't really define himself as gay or straight.
When I read the script, it never even crossed my mind. I thought he was such a cool character because he had no idea who he was. The only thing he could gauge was how interested people were in him, and the only way he would get that attention was through his body or his looks. I don't think he's ever taken the time to think about what he likes or what he doesn't because attention is the most appealing thing to him.

He has a deep longing for attention.
And a deep longing for love. A huge part of being sexual and having a sexual relationship, it becomes less about having sex. Toby is using his sexuality to get attention and love that he yearns for. I think that's why, when he meets Bree, he's meeting someone who doesn't have any of that sexual tension crap.

One of the things we talked about when you were making the movie is that even though the main characters are a transsexual woman and a kid who's living as a gay hustler, this movie is not about transsexuality and it's not about being a gay hustler. It's about family and coming of age and connection.
Every time I can invite someone to a screening, I intentionally invite the most conservative, buttoned-down people I know. I find the most conservative people are the most impressed by it. They'd say "I had so many misconceptions about the way these people lived their lives." The thing I am most proud of with this movie is that people will be able to see this movie who would in no other situation be able to encounter a kid like Toby or a woman like Bree.

It was great that we got to shoot sequentially so as you and Felicity became closer with one another, Bree and Toby became closer and let their guard done a little bit, and that shows. What did you think when you first saw Felicity in full Bree makeup, wig, and costume?
I thought, "What a brave woman." It was incredibly brave of her to embark upon this. I am so unbelievably impressed. She could have sat around and waited to start doing her television show [Desperate Housewives] for a couple of months. But she was inspired to take this enormous risk to do this. She wasn't just kinda showing up and kinda doing a good job. She was there fully.

Quick correction: We didn't know if "her television show" was picked up yet. I actually cast her out of familiarity with her New York theater work. When I found out there was a pilot she had to do by July 5, I was pissed off that, because of a pesky TV series that probably wouldn't get picked up, I would have to go into overdrive to finish this movie.
[Both laugh]