Hustling to Stardom

12.4.2005

By Duncan Tucker

Transamerica star Kevin Zegers graces the cover of Out's January issue, interviewed by the writer/director of the film, Duncan Tucker. In the flick, the 21-year-old actor plays Toby, a queer hustler who enjoys a little heroin and lives on the streets in New York City. Toby's life is turned upside-down when an uptight woman named Bree (Desperate Housewives's Felicity Huffman) enters the picture and volunteers to cart Toby back to California with her. Bree is an M-to-F transsexual who is actually Toby's biological father'a secret she is keeping from him. All of which makes for an often-hilarious, always-uncompromising road trip movie. Transamerica's openly gay writer-director, Duncan Tucker, offered to chat with Zegers for us. So, while Zegers (who happens be both Canadian and straight) was on a break from filming It's a Boy Girl Thing in Toronto, Tucker gave him a ring. Here are some exclusive outtakes from the cover story.

Toby's a kid who's had a hard life but he's a survivor. He thinks his body is his only commodity. He doesn't really define himself as gay or straight.

When I read the script, it never even crossed my mind. I thought he was such a cool character because he had no idea who he was. The only thing he could gauge was how interested people were in him, and the only way he would get that attention was through his body or his looks. I don't think he's ever taken the time to think about what he likes or what he doesn't because attention is the most appealing thing to him.

He has a deep longing for attention.

And a deep longing for love. A huge part of being sexual and having a sexual relationship, it becomes less about having sex. Toby is using his sexuality to get attention and love that he yearns for. I think that's why, when he meets Bree, he's meeting someone who doesn't have any of that sexual tension crap.

One of the things we talked about when you were making the movie is that even though the main characters are a transsexual woman and a kid who's living as a gay hustler, this movie is not about transsexuality and it's not about being a gay hustler. It's about family and coming of age and connection.

Every time I can invite someone to a screening, I intentionally invite the most conservative, buttoned-down people I know. I find the most conservative people are the most impressed by it. They'd say 'I had so many misconceptions about the way these people lived their lives.' The thing I am most proud of with this movie is that people will be able to see this movie who would in no other situation be able to encounter a kid like Toby or a woman like Bree.

It was great that we got to shoot sequentially so as you and Felicity became closer with one another, Bree and Toby became closer and let their guard done a little bit, and that shows. What did you think when you first saw Felicity in full Bree makeup, wig, and costume?

I thought, 'What a brave woman.' It was incredibly brave of her to embark upon this. I am so unbelievably impressed. She could have sat around and waited to start doing her television show [Desperate Housewives] for a couple of months. But she was inspired to take this enormous risk to do this. She wasn't just kinda showing up and kinda doing a good job. She was there fully.

Quick correction: We didn't know if 'her television show' was picked up yet. I actually cast her out of familiarity with her New York theater work. When I found out there was a pilot she had to do by July 5, I was pissed off that, because of a pesky TV series that probably wouldn't get picked up, I would have to go into overdrive to finish this movie.

[Both laugh]

For more Kevin and Duncan, pick up the December issue of Out.

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