Angels and Demons

7.24.2013

By Mark Jacobs

How Kevin Zegers, star of the supernatural fantasy 'The Mortal Instruments,' went from turning tricks to falling for a Brooklyn wizard.

Photography by Zen Sekizawa

"The notion that gay men are just swinging their dicks around all ‘Come one, come all’ is ridiculous,” says Kevin Zegers, sitting at a coffee shop in Beachwood Canyon in Los Angeles. It’s a fair and bluntly accurate statement, of course, but also a slightly ironic one given that the Canadian actor’s most talked-about performance to date saw him playing a 17-year-old bisexual hustler–turned–porn star.

Zegers was barely out of his teens when he was cast in the 2005 indie Transamerica, an ahead-of-the-curve road-trip drama about a pre-op MTF (Felicity Huffman, who won a Golden Globe for the role) and her prostitute son, Toby (Zegers, who took home the 2006 Cannes Film Festival Chopard Award for promising young actor). Now 28, he admits he had no idea what he was getting himself into when signing on for the film. “I was so young and green and had never worked on anything like that,” says Zegers, a native of Woodstock, Ontario -- a conservative community of “Catholic white people who farm and play hockey and drink beers.” Still, his interpretation of Toby ran deep. “I never judged him for getting high or blowing truckers or trying to sleep with his mom,” Zegers says, “because it all came from the same place, which is that he just wanted to know love. It’s the one movie I’ve done where people came up to me and said, ‘That really shifted my perception about things.’ ”

Eight years later, Zegers has the chance to shift perceptions again, this time in the adventure drama The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, based on Cassandra Clare’s best-selling novels. Zegers plays tattooed gay hero Alec Lightwood opposite Lily Collins and Jamie Campbell Bower, marking the first time audiences will see a character openly struggling with his sexuality in a big-screen young-adult fantasy franchise. The film’s PG-13 rating guarantees that Alec’s sexuality, unlike Toby’s, will be light on the sex, but for Zegers that’s beside the point. “What we didn’t want was to make him this stereotypically one-sided guy,” he says. “For his sexuality to be at the forefront would have been a mistake. I wanted it to be just one of the aspects of him we explored.”

Tags: Movies
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