The Canadian child actor-turned-young heartthrob Kevin Zegers inevitably recalls an early Tom Cruise, with his high-gloss and surreal handsomeness. These photogenic, audience-pleasing qualities helped to carry Zegers through his adolescent screen career, with a steady series of roles in family-friendly films. Zegers then proved himself capable of sustaining more mature, adult-oriented Hollywood turns, signified by his fine contribution to the pansexual comedy drama Transamerica (2005).
Born September 19, 1984, into a blue-collar family (his dad worked in a lime quarry), Zegers attended Holy Family French immersion school in his hometown of Woodstock, Ontario, and received an invitation at eight years old to participate in a London fashion show as a child model. Zegers did a few of these events, then talked his parents into letting him audition for a Toronto-based talent agent; not long after, Zegers landed his first screen role, as a younger version of Michael J. Fox's character in James Lapine's uneven comedy drama Life with Mikey (1993), and spent the preponderance of the next ten years starring in innumerable animal-oriented comedies -- everything from Air Bud and its sequels to Virginia's Run to Nico the Unicorn and MVP: Most Valuable Primate. Lest he be typecast, however, Zegers demonstrated his versatility throughout this period with occasional turns in dark horror outings and telemovies as well.
Zegers later recalled how, throughout this period, he honed his ability to size up the fundamental strengths and weaknesses of a script, and by his early twenties, he placed a high premium on this instinct, often rejecting screenplays on the basis of poor quality. Transamerica (which Zegers reportedly read and then fell in love with at first glance) marked the actor's first dramatic leap away from child and adolescent-oriented roles. He later told interviewer Selma Blair that he refused to be turned down for the part, and stalked director Duncan Tucker for weeks on end after an initial rejection from the film, until Tucker recanted. In that well-received picture, Zegers plays Toby, the long-estranged juvenile-delinquent son of pre-operative transsexual Bree (christened Stanley and portrayed by Felicity Huffman). Toby reconnects with his father for a road trip -- just as Bree is about to undergo a permanent sex-change operation. Together, they set off for Los Angeles -- Bree to have her procedure and Toby to make it as a porn star. Zegers proved himself thoroughly worthy of the role; few critics who praised the film failed to single out the actor's performance.
Unfortunately, Zegers followed this with an ill-advised retread of his career origins -- first in the critically reviled, Tim Allen-starring family comedy Zoom, then in the Nick Hurran-directed teen film It's a Boy Girl Thing (both 2006) -- leading many of the actor's fans to grow impatient for additional Zegers work on the level of Transamerica. Not long after, he signed for a small role in more substantial fare: the eagerly anticipated, female-driven ensemble drama The Jane Austen Book Club (2007), directed by Robin Swicord and starring Amy Brenneman, Maria Bello, and Jimmy Smits. Beginning in 2009, Zegers took on a recurring role in the CW's teen drama Gossip Girl, playing the entitled son of a foreign ambassador. His growing career gradually led Zegers to starring roles, playing one of the leads in the 2010 horror film Frozen, opposite Shawn Ashmore and Emma Bell, and the lead in the Encore miniseries Titantic: Blood and Steel (2012). ~ Nathan Southern, Rovi