Kevin Zegers

Kevin Zegers' breakout role in the indie hit Transamerica marked a radical transition in the young actor's career. Before landing the part of troubled drug addict Toby in the critically-acclaimed film, he was best known as the human sidekick of a canine star.

In the Air Bud series, the young performer was teamed up with a Golden Retriever whose talent for basketball, baseball and soccer would leave most professional athletes feeling rather inadequate. After four outings in the role, however, Kevin was left hungering for something a little more challenging.

"I just didn't want to do another animal movie," he admits. "Transamerica is the first film where I was really able to put one hundred per cent of myself into my work. The role enabled me to finally be seen as an adult actor and to break away from the stereotype that had been created for young actors."

The teenage street hustler he plays in the movie is also in marked contrast to the kind of person Kevin is in reality. An impassioned sports fan, he plays hockey in Jerry Bruckheimer's celebrity league - when he's not busy with golf or American Football, that is. And the chisel-jawed performer is also aware that keeping fit is only one half of looking good. "I have 15 pairs of jeans and 30 pairs of shoes," he confessed to one teenage glossy. "I'm a total metrosexual!"

So it would be fair to say that Ziggy, as his friends know him, is nothing if not an achiever. Born in the Canadian town of Woodstock, Ontario, on September 19 1984, he made his acting debut at the age of just six in a television commercial. In the years that followed he would appear in over 30 publicity clips, before moving to Toronto to concentrate on big screen work.

Having notched up over 20 film credits before his 20th birthday, the former child star is now ready to make his mark as a serious character actor. But while critical acclaim and the interest of major studios is, of course, very welcome, the budding performer is determined not to let his newfound recognition go to his head.

He says his girlfriend, Boston Legal star Marisa Coughlan, helps him keep both feet planted firmly on the ground. Fittingly enough, the two performers weren't in a position to take themselves too seriously when they first met, as they were both wearing bizarre outfits for a mutual friend's Halloween party. "A friend of ours set us up," he recalls. "I came dressed as a painting and Marisa showed up in a cowgirl costume."

The road ahead will inevitably mean getting used to A-list company, though. After signing up for the romantic comedy It's A Boy Girl Thing, which was produced by fellow Canadian David Furnish, the young hunk found himself staying in the ubiquitous celeb's home with him and his partner Sir Elton John. But the 5ft 9in star, who once confessed that "being friends with cool people" was one of the things he liked about acting, says the film which catapulted him into the major league has also changed his perspective on things.

Working closely with Desperate Housewives star Felicity Huffman, who garnered a Golden Globe and an Oscar nomination for her performance in the flick, made him realise that showbiz parties and social status were not what really mattered. "She works really, really, really hard," he explains. "Getting to watch her up close was great for me - I take acting much more seriously now."

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