'Titanic: Blood and Steel' Star Kevin Zegers on Mastering Accents, Movie vs. TV Roles and Working With the 'Boss of Actors' (Q&A)
The actor, known for his roles on "Gossip Girl" and "Dawn of the Dead," talks to THR about his role in Encore's 12-part miniseries debuting Monday night.
Kevin Zegers is recognized for his previous roles in Gossip Girl and Dawn of the Dead, but starting Monday night, viewers will find him transported back a hundred years to 20th-century Ireland in Encore's Titanic: Blood and Steel.
In the epic 12-part miniseries, the Canadian actor plays Mark Muir, a fictitious scientist who raises many questions about the doomed passenger ship's construction over the course of its three-year build. The mini also stars Chris Noth as J.P. Morgan, the Titanic owner who has ambitious dreams to build a passenger ship of unparalleled size and luxury; Derek Jacobi as Lord William Pirrie, the struggling chairman of the Harland and Wolff shipyard; Neve Campbell as Joanna Yaeger, a progressive American journalist with ulterior motives; and Alessandra Mastronardi as a skilled copyist who seeks to break the societal constraints of women.
Ahead of Titanic: Blood and Steel's premiere, Zegers talked to THR about his role in the program, which runs every night through Saturday as part of the network's "The Big Miniseries Showcase."
The Hollywood Reporter: What attracted you to this role?
Kevin Zegers: I've never really done TV before. I've done a couple of TV shows, but I've always sort of been interested in having the amount of time to do certainly something of this length -- 12 hours long -- and having time to develop a character. I've never really had that before. Usually you have to create a character arc that lasts an hour and a half, so slowly developing a character over 12 hours interested me.
THR: What was it about the character that you were drawn to?
Zegers: I really liked the script in general. Besides the fact that people obviously have an interest in the Titanic, the thing that interested me is that most of the people making it were all the same people who made The Tudors, and that was something I had really enjoyed watching and was very character-driven. Also, the whole [miniseries] is [my character]. I was interested to see how I could hold up just in terms of workload; it's not every day you get to work five months, six days a week. I was challenged and wanted to see if I was even capable of pulling it off and maintaining consistency with the character. There was obviously a huge amount of character to dig into, and there's a lot of his personal story you end up finding out about.
THR: You also got to work with a cast of veteran actors, too.
Zegers: Not that I was not excited about everyone, but Derek Jacobi is kind of the boss of actors. The chance to work with somebody like that for a huge period of time excited me the most. He was everything I could have hoped for, and thankfully we still stay in touch today.
THR: What sort of research did you do before shooting started?
Zegers: I sort of found out about this job pretty soon before it started. I only had a few weeks, so I wanted to learn as much as I could about his job. I really didn't want to do most of the research people have about the ship sinking; the show is not about that. I wanted to be well-versed in his job because it's a huge part of the show. Aside from that, it was figuring out physically what I was going to look like and doing research on the politics of the time.
THR: Was it hard to master the accent?
Zegers: I have always like doing accents; I find it much easier to get into character for me. It makes it a lot easier to know when I'm working and when I'm not. In [The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, a movie Zegers is currently shooting with Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Lena Headey], I'm doing an accent as well. I worked with a voice coach five years ago in Belfast, and we used the same voice coach [for Titanic: Blood and Steel]. For me, it's something that helps to create a character.
THR: How is the Mortal Instruments shoot going?
Zegers: We're a few months into it. Titanic has been airing here in Canada [where the movie is filming], so people are getting to see it and give their feedback, and everyone seems to be liking it. It's been a good 18 months for me. I'm really proud of Titanic; it sort of has nothing to do with the sinking of the ship. it's more about the era of when the ship is being built and the politics of Belfast at the time. If people like period drama, I think they are going to like this show.
THR: What else do you have coming up, career-wise?
Zegers: I finished a movie before this called All the Wrong Reasons [with Glee's Cory Monteith] and before that a movie with Laurence Fishburne and Bill Paxton called The Colony. I've been lucky to have a good year and stay busy, and hopefully it keeps going that way.