Kevin Zegers appears to have weathered the often-difficult transition from child to adult actor. The kid from the Air Bud movies is now 29, married and working more than ever on interesting and challenging movie and TV projects.
That’s right – 29. Hard to imagine Zegers being all grown up, though it’s not like we didn’t have a ring-side seat to much of his younger years.
By six, the Woodstock, Ontario native was already in the biz, working in a flurry of commercials. His list of TV show appearances reads like a Who’s Who of 1990s Canadian-shot series: Street Legal. Road To Avonlea. Twice In A Lifetime. Traders. Goosebumps. He even a had showy bit as a kid with stigmata in a 1995 episode of The X-Files.
All of which was just preamble to the little-movie-that-became-a-franchise known as Air Bud. To be fair, before the series degenerated into space-travelling puppies and hockey-playing chimps, it was a charming little movie about a lonely boy and a dog. The dog, it should be remembered, just happened to knock basketballs into hoops with his nose.
Zegers was charming and heart-breaking when he needed to be. And the dog was…well…pretty impressive.
Zegers made three successful Air Bud sequels (and a spinoff hockey-playing monkey movie) before he got too big to be the wide-eyed kid anymore. But if he was stigmatized as the ‘Air Bud’ kid, it didn’t really show up on his resume. In fact, his supposed ‘awkward teen years’ featured quite a few horror movies – about as far as you could get from the family-friendly Air Bud franchise. Included in his horror work was even a very good flick (2004’s Dawn of The Dead remake).
The third stage of his career really began with Transamerica (2005), a low- budget road trip about a man about to get sexual ‘reassignment’ surgery who finds out he has a son named Toby (Zegers). The acclaimed film was a showcase for star Felicity Huffman, who earned a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her tour-de-force performance.
Zegers was no slouch, either. Toby was one angry, troubled kid. And while he could be a charming teen hustler, there was something very sad and dangerous lurking inside him as well.
Zegers’ performance garnered him an award at the Cannes Film Festival, and led to good parts in good small pictures (Normal/The Jane Austin Book Club), and a few not-so-good Hollywood movies (Zoom). He even got to act opposite another Canadian star-on-the-rise, Ellen Page, in the 2007 adaptation of Margaret Laurence’s novel The Stone Angel.
Still, Zegers is likely best known to this generation for his 10-episode stint as the drug-dealing ambassador’s son Damien on CW’s Gossip Girl. The role provided Zegers with the opportunity to be really evil and manipulative while sporting a great suit.
These days, the adult Zegers appears just as comfortable on TV as the big screen. His recent work has included everything from the miniseries period drama Titanic: Blood and Steel, to the futuristic horrors of the feature The Colony and the fantasy adventures of The Mortal Instruments.
Next up for Zegers is Global’s upcoming miniseries Gracepoint, where he’ll be playing an ambitious small town reporter investigating a local murder. The series – a remake of the British hit Broadchurch – stars David Tennant, Anna Gunn and Nick Nolte.
And no. There are currently no basketball-playing dogs in the Gracepoint cast.
Go back in time, to our first interview with our Canadian Star of the Week, Kevin Zegers, below!