Still not ready for fame

LOS ANGELES - He's often mistaken for Zac Efron and it's not hard to see why.

Both have similar chiselled jawlines, adorable dimples, buff bodies and baby blue eyes that smoulder with intensity.

"I get that all the time," laughs Kevin Zegers about the comparisons to his doppelgänger and former High School Musical teen idol.

"Zac's actually a very good friend of mine. He hears this all the time too. Maybe we'll develop a film together where we play brothers."

We were at SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills for The Mortal Instruments: City Of Bones' publicity tour, and Zegers was clearly enjoying his moment.

So much so that he didn't even mind being mistaken for a fellow Canadian actor with the same first name.

A US journalist in our round table interview group thought Zegers was Kevin Durand, another actor in City Of Bones.

"Sorry to disappoint you. I'm Kevin Zegers, not Kevin Durand," said Zegers to the embarrassed reporter, and proceeded to point out his name on the production notes.

"Don't worry about it. It's okay," Zegers added, with a smile.

One reason for the 28-year-old's good mood might be because his days of anonymity will soon be a thing of the past.

Starring in City Of Bones, which opens here today, guarantees him exposure to a wider, global audience.

That's not to say that Zegers is a newcomer. On the contrary, he's been in showbiz most of his life, having made his debut at age eight.

However, unless you've watched TV series like Gossip Girl and Titanic: Blood And Steel or indie flicks such as Transamerica (2005), Fifty Dead Men Walking (2008) and Frozen (2010), he's probably still unknown to most.

"It's an exciting time for me. This kind of stuff, the attention, is new for me. I generally do more independent films, pictures not of this scale," he said.

Indeed, City Of Bones is a big deal. It is the first of a franchise that's based on an international best-selling series of young adult books - The Mortal Instruments by Cassandra Clare. There are six books in the series.

"I've signed on for three movies, and we're starting to shoot the sequel, City Of Ashes, in September."

Zegers plays Alec Lightwood, a skilled Shadowhunter (a demon-killing human who's born with angel blood) who becomes a reluctant aide in the search of teen protagonist Clary's (Lily Collins) missing mother.

Alec also harbours a crush on fellow Shadowhunter Jace (Jamie Campbell Bower), who in turn is infatuated with Clary.

When asked if he's ready for the big time, Zegers admitted that he isn't, and probably won't ever be.

"(Fame) isn't something I seek," said the Los Angeles-based actor.

"But it's how you live your life. If you go to the most popular restaurant and sit at the table outside, then you're asking to be photographed. "I don't foresee it as a big problem. My life is pretty simple. It's just me, my wife and our dogs," he said.

Zegers exchanged vows with his long-time girlfriend, talent agent Jaime Feld, on Aug 3. One thing that has changed, said Zegers, is that he now has a stylist.

"Yes, I don't dress myself now," he said, with a laugh. "This is the first time that someone decides what I wear.

"I grew up in a small town in Canada where it's just jeans and T-shirts, and when it's cold, you put a jacket and a baseball cap on. So this all feels very weird to me. But when I'm working, I think fashion plays a big part. People sometimes gloss over it. How one dresses characterises the role. It really sets the tone."

For that, Zegers had a very big hand in how Alec looks like on the big screen. He initially turned down the role as he felt Alec was "written too generically".

"When I first received the script, I didn't get a sense of who Alec was. His role wasn't sorted out yet. I do often get scripts where I don't get to do anything. I didn't want to do that."

Not fluff any more

By the time Zegers received another draft, Alec wasn't "just fluff".

"I think care must be taken on how Alec should be treated," he said.

Zegers was referring to Alec's sexual orientation as depicted in the books, explaining that he didn't want Alec to be portrayed as "the stereotypical gay who prances around".

"I wanted to show that Alec is a badass. He's foremost a family guy, someone who's noble, earnest, honest, strong and can't be messed with. The sexuality stuff came later. It's just a part of him, and not the only thing about him."

Zegers' prerogative was to be a good role model, especially on the City Of Bones set where the cast is young.

Collins and Bower are 24. Robert Sheehan, who plays Clary's best friend Simon, is 25, and Jemima West, who plays Alec's sister Isabelle, is 26.

"I started acting when I was eight, and I was always the young guy. I remember one day on set where I felt I'm the old guy. For the first time, everyone was younger than me," he shared.

"Every time I see a picture of Lily in a magazine, I'd take a picture and send it to her. We're all very happy for each other. She does the same thing with me and with Jamie.

"The closeness makes it very easy to go back to work in September. I know who's going to be there, and if anyone's having a bad day, I know we'll all go watch a movie or hang out in the hotel room.

"We're a family. That makes the movie better because no one wants to one-up on someone else."

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