Career kicked off in his native Minnesota when he crashed the audition of a local stage production of "Biloxi Blues" and won the lead role. Next trained at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA; then moved to New York City where he won a role touring for 13 months in national company of Tommy Tune-directed version of "Bye Bye Birdie". Back in New York, he played opposite Ethan Hawke in "Sophistry" at Playwright's Horizon, where Ben Stiller noticed him and cast him and Hawke in Reality Bites (1994).IMDb Mini Biography By: email@example.com
|Robyn Peterman||(16 July 1994 - present) 2 children|
Son Henry James Zahn (born April 3rd 2000) and Daughter Audrey Clair Zahn (born April 25th 2002).
Was raised in Minnesota.
His father is a Lutheran minister.
Is an avid fly fisherman. Owns a farm in Western New Jersey.
Graduated from Cooper High School, New Hope, Minnesota.
Briefly attended the Guthrie Theater Drama School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but dropped out to pursue his film career.
Was Tom Everett Scott's best man at his wedding.
In July of 2004, Zahn and his family moved from their rural farm in New Jersey to a horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky, his wife's hometown.
Met future wife, Robyn Peterman, during a 13-month national touring company of "Bye Bye Birdie", in which they appeared together.
Has two children, Henry and Audrey, with wife Robyn Peterson.
Gained 20 pounds for Employee of the Month (2004).
Mother's name is Zelda Zahn.
Conferred honorary PhD in Fine Arts from Northern Kentucky University 4 May 2007.
Lost 40 pounds for his role in Rescue Dawn (2006).
One night during the filming of Rescue Dawn (2006), he got up to use the toilet. While urinating, he fainted. When he woke up, he was initially mad at himself for drinking so much. Awakening further, he realized that he hadn't had any alcohol for about three months, and that he had probably fainted because he had lost so much weight for the part. To regain his mental focus, he played video-game golf.
Is a Harvard graduate.
His surname translates to "tooth" in German.
He spent nearly six weeks fighting for a role in Courage Under Fire (1996), up against Matt Damon. The day he found out Damon landed the film role over him, he was offered the part in That Thing You Do! (1996).
Loves documentary films.
Is a huge history buff.
In May 2011, Zahn traveled from New Orleans (where he lived while shooting "Treme" (2010)) to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to help with the relief effort in the aftermath of the massive EF4 tornado that struck Tuscaloosa in April 2011. The tornado killed 53 people in the Tuscaloosa area and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Zahn helped clear debris left by buildings and trees with little fanfare or press attention.
Son-in-law of catalog clothier J. Peterman.
I still really love acting. I find it really challenging. And I really love film; it's a lot of fun. Theater is a big commitment. Most of the time, you sign a five-month contract. You do eight shows a week and have one day off. There's no time to go home.
You still really fight for good parts. It never stops. It's never a breeze. The people at the top of their game work as hard as the people at the bottom.
The definition of Sahara is '"to have no memory", and it's true. When you go out in the desert, no matter what's going on in your world, you see the dunes and nothing else, and you think of nothing else.
I have no problem playing the funny sidekick. I'm a grunt; I'm a sergeant, an officer. I'm on point with everyone else.
[on landing Sahara (2005)] Matthew [Matthew McConaughey] was an executive on it, and he sent me the script and this crazy letter, which was great. I'd never been kind of approached in that way. I was really impressed with the letter, and I read the script immediately and I really was very excited to be offered something in this genre. I mean, I'd never done it before. I thought the characters were good, and I like Matthew. And also it was months of work and I just don't get offered that. I'm not a leading guy. I usually hook up to a film and then, in a month and a half, I'm gone.
[on if he feels he is typecast as a comic relief sidekick, and if it bothers him] No, I am. It's a pleasure and a privilege. I really look at it as a career, and not what movies I'm doing this year. I remember not getting offered Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) and going, "Wow, I've graduated from college." So it changes as you grow older just for obvious reasons. And to be typecast and make money and make people happy and people dig what you do, what a great thing, man. I don't want to compete with Jude Law, nor should I. Could I act them? Sure. But do people want me to act them? Probably not, you know. As much as I would want to do it, you know what I mean? I think people fuck up there and they do what they want to do. And that's fine, but remember, it's all about telling a story, it's all about entertaining people in one way or another. And some people are successful at it. I mean, Tom Hanks is great. There are examples of people who have gone both ways. If that opportunity comes, then it comes. Tom Hanks did wacky old Turner & Hooch (1989) comedies forever and then, eventually, when the time was right, he did it. And it wasn't like he was doing it intentionally, it just kind of happened, because he became an older man and it worked. So maybe I'll play the crazy sidekick throughout my whole life and that will be fine. Or maybe I'll do sidekick parts and in five years it will be a different thing. I don't know, maybe. I don't have a plan, I just want to do the next good thing for me."
[on if he goes after the parts he really wants.] Yeah, you've got to campaign. I don't care if you've just won an Oscar, you still have to campaign for parts. You just have to be on top of it. Hopefully you're on their list and hopefully you can meet the director. It never ends, that never ends; it's never like you're sitting in the backyard on your lawn chair with your beer just kicked back waiting for the call. I think if you're really in it, and if you're really an actor, you're always trying to get the good movie, to tell the good story. I do a lot of independent films, which is great, but then you go bust your ass and most of the time people don't see it. But I still love doing them because they are usually really good. If you get too caught up in where you sit in this scheme of things, you're on the wrong track. It's got to be about the story. That's what I think my job is. I'm there to service the story. How do I make that scene better? I go do a scene, of course I'm thinking about how I'm coming off, but I think I will come off great if the scene is great, if you laugh at what we are doing. Not if I'm cool or not if I'm really funny the way I do it. It has to work as a scene, and that comes from theater. I know, I just went off on a tangent. So, whatever. It's kind of out of your hands.
[on filming Rescue Dawn (2006) in Thailand] We'd be walking barefoot through jungle no one has ever walked through, with thorns and snakes and whatever. Sometimes Christian [Christian Bale] and I would just sit on a rice paddy and laugh, like, "Can you believe this?" It was intense. I'd need a 12-pack in the backyard and a full five hours to tell all the stories.
(on how he prepares for a role] I have a very traditional background. I'm theater-trained. I don't know. I do my homework. Literally, I read the script a lot and I learn it, no matter what the part is - how big or small the part is. I put a lot of thought into it and I think about it constantly. Part of that is the kid in me, too. When I show up on a film set, I don't want to worry in my trailer about what I'm doing. I want to play PlayStation because I don't get to play that at home.
I love general history. That's all I read really. I don't read novels, I read history. I love it. I live in an area that's really rich in Civil War history. I live in Kentucky on a farm. A lot of revolution, a lot of military history I love. I like micro-histories. I like reading about little tiny events, not huge. I read a lot. I live in horse country and I just read a book about Confederate guerrillas who came to the thoroughbred farm, my neighbors, and stole thoroughbreds for their mounts and they were worth thousands and thousands of dollars. That's really interesting to me.
Sahara (2005) was a blast. I absolutely loved "Sahara". I've never done anything like that. And it was just so much fun. I mean every day, going to work, it was never a boring day. Everyone was cool, it was a great group, everyone showed up, there was no bullcrap. That's the way it should be done. And I really wish there wasn't all this other stuff, I'd love to make another one.
I love Shattered Glass (2003). It's one of my favorite movies. I think it's just brilliant. That's another one that I read and I thought, "I got to be in this. I gotta be in it. I don't care who I play, or whatever, if I'm just the throwback". It's just a great story. It's very intriguing. And then when I saw it, it was even better than I knew it was going to be when we were shooting it. Peter Sarsgaard is just amazing. I was really happy with that.
[on making Bandidas (2006)] Well, that one just didn't work. This is a classic example for me of a formula that didn't work. You got all the great ingredients together, but you still gotta stir the pot and cook it. When that came out, it was like "What?" You gotta cook it, and only then, the cake tastes good. What's hard in movies is to have a consistent tone throughout a movie. Whatever that is. And that one, you have Luc Besson, who is this French producer who had these Norwegian directors, who were great, really funny guys, and smart. And there were a variety of cast members coming in and leaving and going in and out. It was shot in Mexico with a French producer and a Mexican crew. It was insane. How can you have a tone? That was one where I knew while shooting. I was like, "I don't know about this. I don't even understand if it's a Western or an epic or a comedy. What are we doing?"
[2007 quote] I've had more people come up to me about Saving Silverman (2001) than anything else. That and That Thing You Do! (1996) but "Saving Silverman" is the one I get most often. And I love that. It's just funny that it didn't do that well in theaters. It did all right, but none of us were big stars at the time. Jason Biggs was probably bigger than any of us. That's another one that kind of baffles me. So many people have seen it. I got this big Western coming out. I have another crazy comedy that I really like, Strange Wilderness (2008). It's just fucking dumb, and I can't wait to see how people react, because I just know that I'll have people approach me and say "Strange Wilderness, man. That's my favorite movie". I'll love that.
[on Out of Sight (1998)] Yeah, that's a great movie. It's just one of those movies that I'm baffled why it didn't do as good as it should have. I'm convinced it had to be because people didn't see it, and the reason for that is the marketing. I mean, just look at the poster. There's a gun and J-Lo and there's George [George Clooney]. It just looks like a murder-mystery love-triangle thing, when it was really this cool, very unique movie.
I love Safe Men (1998). Now it's getting all this culty kind of-it just came out on DVD. That was awesome. I read that script, I never laughed so hard in my life. It was then that I decided I had to be in it. I told [writer-director] John Hamburg, "I gotta be in it. You gotta hire me, you gotta hire me. It's the funniest thing I've ever read". It was just fun to do. Sam [Sam Rockwell] and I have been friends ever since. We are always up for the same parts, it's kind of constant. We go back and forth from movies that he's done, I've done, and we've both done. We had so much fun.
[on making Rescue Dawn (2006)] I am the first person to make fun of the whole, "This film was so hard to make. It was so hot". You know, being a coal miner is tough too. That said, I've never done anything that was as unconventional. Werner (Werner Herzog) is great, because there's no distractions on the set. There's no chairs, there's no trailers. There's no M&Ms, which creates a certain atmosphere. Because you don't have those comfortable places to hang out and chill, you don't have this passive high-school grab-ass happening. And then you have directors going, "Remember, you're starving, you don't have shoes". And you're like, "Right. I was just playing golf in my trailer". You know what I mean? It wasn't that. So you had friction, you had people that were like, "I'm not used to this". Which is good. He loves that.
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