Steve Zahn

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Steve Zahn
Zahn, Steve (2008).jpg
Zahn in 2008
Born Steven James Zahn
(1967-11-13) November 13, 1967 (age 49)
Marshall, Minnesota, U.S.
Occupation Actor, comedian, voice actor
Years active 1990-present
Spouse(s) Robyn Peterman (m. 1994)
Children 2

Steven James "Steve" Zahn (/ˈzɑːn/; born November 13, 1967) is an American actor and comedian. His films include Reality Bites (1994), That Thing You Do! (1996), Out of Sight (1998), Happy, Texas (1999), Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), Shattered Glass (2003), Rescue Dawn (2007), the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies, Dallas Buyers Club (2013), and War for the Planet of the Apes (2017).

Zahn did voice acting in Chicken Little (2005), Escape from Planet Earth (2013), and The Good Dinosaur (2015). He has also worked regularly in television, including the recurring role of Davis McAlary on HBO's Treme (2010 to 2013).

Early life[edit]

Zahn was born in Marshall, Minnesota, the son of Carleton Edward Zahn, a Lutheran minister, and Zelda Clair Zahn, a bookstore clerk and later a YMCA administrator.[1] His father is of German and Swedish descent, and his mother is of German ancestry.[citation needed] Zahn spent part of his childhood in Mankato, Minnesota, attending Kennedy Elementary School, and moved to the suburbs of Minneapolis for high school, where he acted in school plays and became a two-time Minnesota state speech champion,[2][3] he graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in 1986, planning eventually to join the United States Marine Corps.[2]

Career[edit]

Zahn with Jennifer Aniston at the premiere of the movie Management, in which they both starred, 2008.

Zahn attended Gustavus Adolphus College for one semester but dropped out after seeing the original West End production of Les Misérables. "I remember sitting through the second act thinking, I’m good as that guy standing on the barricade," Zahn recalled. "I wanted to be part of the circus."[4] In 1987, Zahn made his professional stage debut in a Minnesota production of Neil Simon's Biloxi Blues after falsely claiming to be a member of Actors' Equity,[2] his fellow actors suggested that Zahn study acting, inspiring him to enroll in American Repertory Theater's two-year training program.[5] At A.R.T., he worked with the venerated stage director Andrei Șerban.[6]

In 1991, Zahn formed the Malaparte theater company with a group of actor friends, including Ethan Hawke and Robert Sean Leonard,[7] from 1991 to 1992, he played Hugo Peabody in a national tour of Bye Bye Birdie starring Tommy Tune, and subsequently appeared in two Off-Broadway plays, Sophistry and Eric Bogosian's Suburbia.[8]

After his breakout film role in 1994's Reality Bites, Zahn quickly gained a reputation for playing amiable stoners, slackers, and sidekicks in films such as That Thing You Do! (1996), You've Got Mail (1998), and Out of Sight (1998).[9] In the 1990s, Zahn was often approached by fans who assumed that he was an archetypal Generation X slacker, which was not the case, he has said, "I’m the guy who gets up at six without an alarm clock. I was always that guy."[4]

In 1999, Zahn landed his first starring role in the critically acclaimed indie film Happy, Texas, for which he won a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival.[10] In the wake of Happy, Texas, Zahn began playing darker, more nuanced characters, he received Oscar buzz for his role as Drew Barrymore's deadbeat ex in Riding in Cars with Boys (2001), and played the investigative journalist Adam Penenberg in Shattered Glass (2003).[11] A longtime Werner Herzog fan, Zahn campaigned for the role of Vietnam prisoner of war Duane W. Martin in Herzog's 2007 film Rescue Dawn; to prepare for the role, he lost 40 pounds by eating mostly raw food.[9][5]

Zahn has also worked regularly in television, playing the role of Davis McClary on 36 episodes of HBO's Treme.

In 2017, Zahn played Bad Ape in War for the Planet of the Apes, he researched the role by watching chimp videos on YouTube, and later said that the motion capture process and lengthy digital takes made Bad Ape "the most challenging acting job I’ve ever had".[12][13]

Personal life[edit]

Zahn met the author and theater artist Robyn Peterman in 1991 while they were performing in a national tour of Bye Bye Birdie; Peterman is the daughter of clothier J. Peterman.[1][5] The couple married in 1994 and have two children, Henry (b. 2000) and Audrey (b. 2002). They live on a 360-acre farm outside of Lexington, Kentucky, where Zahn gardens and raises horses, goats, and sheep,[14] he and his wife also run a local community theater, in which Zahn occasionally performs.[4]

Zahn is a lifelong military history buff, and has said that one of his biggest regrets was turning down a role in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers;[15] in 2007, he was awarded an honorary Ph.D in Fine Arts from Northern Kentucky University. A University of Kentucky sports fan, Zahn is often seen at games and events.[citation needed]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1993 Rain Without Thunder Jeremy Tanner
1994 Reality Bites Sammy Gray
1995 Crimson Tide William Barnes
1996 Race the Sun Hans Kooiman
SubUrbia Buff
That Thing You Do! Lenny Haise
1998 The Object of My Affection Frank Hanson
Out of Sight Glenn Michaels
Safe Men Eddie
You've Got Mail George Pappas
1999 Forces of Nature Alan Nominated — Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Supporting Actor - Comedy/Romance
Freak Talks About Sex Freak
Happy, Texas Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr., aka David Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
Special Dramatic Jury Prize for Best Comedic Performance
Nominated — Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical
Stuart Little Monty Voice
2000 Chain of Fools Thomas Kresk
Hamlet Rosencrantz
2001 Chelsea Walls Ross
Dr. Dolittle 2 Archie Voice
Joy Ride Fuller Thomas
Riding in Cars with Boys Ray Hasek
Saving Silverman Wayne
2002 Stuart Little 2 Monty Voice
2003 Daddy Day Care Marvin
National Security Hank Rafferty
Shattered Glass Adam Penenberg
2004 Employee of the Month Jack
Speak Mr. Freeman
2005 Chicken Little Runt of the Litter Voice
Sahara Al Giordino
2006 Bandidas Quentin Cooke
2007 Rescue Dawn Duane Nominated — Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
2008 The Great Buck Howard Kenny
Management Mike Flux
Strange Wilderness Peter Gaulke
Sunshine Cleaning Mac
Unstable Fables: 3 Pigs and a Baby Sandy Pig Voice
Direct-to-DVD
2009 Night Train Pete Dobbs
A Perfect Getaway Cliff Anderson
2010 Calvin Marshall Coach Little
Diary of a Wimpy Kid Frank Heffley
Salesmen Marvin
2011 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules Frank Heffley
2012 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Class Clown
2013 Escape from Planet Earth Hawk Voice
Dallas Buyers Club Tucker Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Knights of Badassdom Eric
2015 The Good Dinosaur Thunderclap Voice
The Ridiculous 6 Clem
2016 Captain Fantastic Dave Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2017 War for the Planet of the Apes "Bad Ape" (motion-capture and voice)
Lean on Pete Silver
2018 Blaze Post-production

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1990 All My Children Spence Episode #5303
uncredited
1993 South Beach Lane Bailey Episode: "Pirates of the Caribbean"
1995 Friends Duncan "The One with Phoebe's Husband"
Mike & Spike Nick Pickles (voice) Episode: "Person to Clothes"
Picture Windows Crook Episode: "Armed Response"
1997 Liberty! The American Revolution American Sergeant 4 episodes
1998 From the Earth to the Moon Astronaut Elliot See Miniseries
Episode: "Can We Do This?"
2008 Comanche Moon Augustus "Gus" McCrae 3 episodes
2008–2013 Phineas and Ferb Swampy/Sherman Voice
Episode: "Dude, We're Gettin' the Band Back Together!"
2009 Monk Jack Monk, Jr. Episode: "Mr. Monk's Other Brother"
WWII in HD Nolen Marbrey Voice
2010–2013 Treme Davis McAlary Regular, 36 episodes
2014 Mind Games Clark Edwards Regular
2014–2015 Modern Family Ronnie La Fontaine Recurring Role
2015–2016 Mad Dogs Cobi Series regular

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Braun, Liz (February 26, 2001). "Steve Zahn has a smart funny humour," Jam!. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Simon, Alex (July 3, 2015). "Great Conversations: Steve Zahn," The Huffington Post Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  3. ^ Covert, Colin (August 18, 2009). "Local boy Steve Zahn grows up," Star Tribune (Minneapolis). Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Riesman, Abraham (July 13, 2017). "Steve Zahn. Seriously." New York. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c Copley, Rich (June 23, 2016). "Steve Zahn talks craft and Kentucky at UK’s Singletary Center," Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved on September 15, 2017.
  6. ^ O'Sullivan, Michael (July 13, 2007). "Steve Zahn . . . in All Seriousness," The Washington Post. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  7. ^ Sternbergh, Adam (January 31, 2010). "The Ethan Hawke Actors Studio," New York. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  8. ^ Klein, Alvin (March 15, 1992). "Tommy Tune and 'Bye Bye Birdie,'" The New York Times. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  9. ^ a b Rabin, Nathan (July 3, 2007). "Interview: Steve Zahn," The A.V. Club. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  10. ^ Ojumu, Akin (November 13, 1999). "Steve Zahn's habitual scene-stealing," The Guardian. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  11. ^ Smith, Neil (December 4, 2001). "Riding in Cars with Boys (2001)," BBC. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  12. ^ Rottenberg, Josh (April 21, 2017). "Why Steve Zahn's 'Bad Ape' in 'War for the Planet of the Apes' made director Matt Reeves cry," Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  13. ^ Lammers, Tim (July 13, 2017). "Interview: Steve Zahn Talks 'War of the Planet of the Apes,'" DirectConversations.com. Retrieved September 16, 2017.
  14. ^ Belloni, Matthew (October 27, 2008). "Steve Zahn: What I've Learned," Esquire. Retrieved September 15, 2017.
  15. ^ "Steve Zahn," interviewed by Doug Boyd (May 29, 2013). Colonel Arthur L. Kelly American Veterans Oral History Collection, University of Kentucky Libraries. Retrieved September 15, 2017.

External links[edit]