Known for movies

Short Info

Net Worth$25 million
Date Of BirthNovember 13, 1967
SpouseRobyn Peterman
FactConferred honorary PhD in Fine Arts from Northern Kentucky University 4 May 2007.
PaymentsEarned $2,200,000 from Sahara (2005)

Steve Zahn is an American actor, comedian and voice artist. He was born on November 13, 1967 in Marshall, Minnesota, USA. His parents are Zelda, a homemaker, and Carleton Edward Zahn, a Lutheran minister. He has two brothers, Robert and Paul. Zahn was raised in Mound, Minnesota. He graduated from Mound Westonka High School in 1986 and attended the University of Minnesota for one year before transferring to Gustavus Adolphus College.

Zahn’s first film role was in the 1989 independent film Memphis Belle. He followed this with roles in the films Reality Bites (1994), That Thing You Do! (1996), and Out of Sight (1998). He also had a supporting role in the 1998 Coen brothers film The Big Lebowski. In 1999, Zahn starred in the critically acclaimed film Happy, Texas.

Zahn’s other film credits include Saving Silverman (2001), Daddy Day Care (2003), National Security (2003), Sahara (2005), You’ve Got Mail (1998), Joy Ride (2001), Rescue Dawn (2006), and Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010). He has also appeared on television shows such as Friends, Seinfeld, and The X-Files.

Zahn has been married to Renee Zahn since 1995. They have two children together.

General Info

Full NameSteve Zahn
Net Worth$25 million
Date Of BirthNovember 13, 1967
Height1.71 m
ProfessionComedian, Voice Actor
EducationHarvard University, Kennedy Elementary School, Gustavus Adolphus College, Robbinsdale Cooper High School


SpouseRobyn Peterman
ChildrenAudrey Clair Zahn, Henry James Zahn
ParentsCarleton E. Zahn, Zelda Zahn


AwardsIndependent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
NominationsScreen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, Satellite Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
MoviesA Perfect Getaway, Rescue Dawn, Daddy Day Care, Sahara, Saving Silverman, Joy Ride, National Security, Strange Wilderness, The Good Dinosaur, Dallas Buyers Club, Reality Bites, That Thing You Do!, Bandidas, Riding in Cars with Boys, Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days, Out of Sight, Diary of a Wimpy Kid:...
TV ShowsMind Games, Treme, WWII in HD, Comanche Moon, Liberty!, Scrat's Treasure Hunt, Mad Dogs

Social profile links


Sahara (2005)$2,200,000


1[on his role as the bi-polar Chris Edwards in 'Mind Games'] I spent a decade playing stoners. And then, one day, all of a sudden, I'm a genius.
2[on making Rescue Dawn (2006)] I am the first person to make fun of the whole, "This film was so hard to make. It was so hot". You know, being a coal miner is tough too. That said, I've never done anything that was as unconventional. Werner (Werner Herzog) is great, because there's no distractions on the set. There's no chairs, there's no trailers. There's no M&Ms, which creates a certain atmosphere. Because you don't have those comfortable places to hang out and chill, you don't have this passive high-school grab-ass happening. And then you have directors going, "Remember, you're starving, you don't have shoes". And you're like, "Right. I was just playing golf in my trailer". You know what I mean? It wasn't that. So you had friction, you had people that were like, "I'm not used to this". Which is good. He loves that.
3I love Safe Men (1998). Now it's getting all this culty kind of-it just came out on DVD. That was awesome. I read that script, I never laughed so hard in my life. It was then that I decided I had to be in it. I told [writer-director] John Hamburg, "I gotta be in it. You gotta hire me, you gotta hire me. It's the funniest thing I've ever read". It was just fun to do. Sam [Sam Rockwell] and I have been friends ever since. We are always up for the same parts, it's kind of constant. We go back and forth from movies that he's done, I've done, and we've both done. We had so much fun.
4[on Out of Sight (1998)] Yeah, that's a great movie. It's just one of those movies that I'm baffled why it didn't do as good as it should have. I'm convinced it had to be because people didn't see it, and the reason for that is the marketing. I mean, just look at the poster. There's a gun and J-Lo and there's George [George Clooney]. It just looks like a murder-mystery love-triangle thing, when it was really this cool, very unique movie.
5[2007 quote] I've had more people come up to me about Saving Silverman (2001) than anything else. That and That Thing You Do! (1996) but "Saving Silverman" is the one I get most often. And I love that. It's just funny that it didn't do that well in theaters. It did all right, but none of us were big stars at the time. Jason Biggs was probably bigger than any of us. That's another one that kind of baffles me. So many people have seen it. I got this big Western coming out. I have another crazy comedy that I really like, Strange Wilderness (2008). It's just fucking dumb, and I can't wait to see how people react, because I just know that I'll have people approach me and say "Strange Wilderness, man. That's my favorite movie". I'll love that.
6[on making Bandidas (2006)] Well, that one just didn't work. This is a classic example for me of a formula that didn't work. You got all the great ingredients together, but you still gotta stir the pot and cook it. When that came out, it was like "What?" You gotta cook it, and only then, the cake tastes good. What's hard in movies is to have a consistent tone throughout a movie. Whatever that is. And that one, you have Luc Besson, who is this French producer who had these Norwegian directors, who were great, really funny guys, and smart. And there were a variety of cast members coming in and leaving and going in and out. It was shot in Mexico with a French producer and a Mexican crew. It was insane. How can you have a tone? That was one where I knew while shooting. I was like, "I don't know about this. I don't even understand if it's a Western or an epic or a comedy. What are we doing?"
7I love Shattered Glass (2003). It's one of my favorite movies. I think it's just brilliant. That's another one that I read and I thought, "I got to be in this. I gotta be in it. I don't care who I play, or whatever, if I'm just the throwback". It's just a great story. It's very intriguing. And then when I saw it, it was even better than I knew it was going to be when we were shooting it. Peter Sarsgaard is just amazing. I was really happy with that.
8Sahara (2005) was a blast. I absolutely loved "Sahara". I've never done anything like that. And it was just so much fun. I mean every day, going to work, it was never a boring day. Everyone was cool, it was a great group, everyone showed up, there was no bullcrap. That's the way it should be done. And I really wish there wasn't all this other stuff, I'd love to make another one.
9I love general history. That's all I read really. I don't read novels, I read history. I love it. I live in an area that's really rich in Civil War history. I live in Kentucky on a farm. A lot of revolution, a lot of military history I love. I like micro-histories. I like reading about little tiny events, not huge. I read a lot. I live in horse country and I just read a book about Confederate guerrillas who came to the thoroughbred farm, my neighbors, and stole thoroughbreds for their mounts and they were worth thousands and thousands of dollars. That's really interesting to me.
10(on how he prepares for a role] I have a very traditional background. I'm theater-trained. I don't know. I do my homework. Literally, I read the script a lot and I learn it, no matter what the part is - how big or small the part is. I put a lot of thought into it and I think about it constantly. Part of that is the kid in me, too. When I show up on a film set, I don't want to worry in my trailer about what I'm doing. I want to play PlayStation because I don't get to play that at home.
11[on filming Rescue Dawn (2006) in Thailand] We'd be walking barefoot through jungle no one has ever walked through, with thorns and snakes and whatever. Sometimes Christian [Christian Bale] and I would just sit on a rice paddy and laugh, like, "Can you believe this?" It was intense. I'd need a 12-pack in the backyard and a full five hours to tell all the stories.
12[on if he goes after the parts he really wants.] Yeah, you've got to campaign. I don't care if you've just won an Oscar, you still have to campaign for parts. You just have to be on top of it. Hopefully you're on their list and hopefully you can meet the director. It never ends, that never ends; it's never like you're sitting in the backyard on your lawn chair with your beer just kicked back waiting for the call. I think if you're really in it, and if you're really an actor, you're always trying to get the good movie, to tell the good story. I do a lot of independent films, which is great, but then you go bust your ass and most of the time people don't see it. But I still love doing them because they are usually really good. If you get too caught up in where you sit in this scheme of things, you're on the wrong track. It's got to be about the story. That's what I think my job is. I'm there to service the story. How do I make that scene better? I go do a scene, of course I'm thinking about how I'm coming off, but I think I will come off great if the scene is great, if you laugh at what we are doing. Not if I'm cool or not if I'm really funny the way I do it. It has to work as a scene, and that comes from theater. I know, I just went off on a tangent. So, whatever. It's kind of out of your hands.
13[on if he feels he is typecast as a comic relief sidekick, and if it bothers him] No, I am. It's a pleasure and a privilege. I really look at it as a career, and not what movies I'm doing this year. I remember not getting offered Dude, Where's My Car? (2000) and going, "Wow, I've graduated from college." So it changes as you grow older just for obvious reasons. And to be typecast and make money and make people happy and people dig what you do, what a great thing, man. I don't want to compete with Jude Law, nor should I. Could I act them? Sure. But do people want me to act them? Probably not, you know. As much as I would want to do it, you know what I mean? I think people fuck up there and they do what they want to do. And that's fine, but remember, it's all about telling a story, it's all about entertaining people in one way or another. And some people are successful at it. I mean, Tom Hanks is great. There are examples of people who have gone both ways. If that opportunity comes, then it comes. Tom Hanks did wacky old Turner & Hooch (1989) comedies forever and then, eventually, when the time was right, he did it. And it wasn't like he was doing it intentionally, it just kind of happened, because he became an older man and it worked. So maybe I'll play the crazy sidekick throughout my whole life and that will be fine. Or maybe I'll do sidekick parts and in five years it will be a different thing. I don't know, maybe. I don't have a plan, I just want to do the next good thing for me."
14[on landing Sahara (2005)] Matthew [Matthew McConaughey] was an executive on it, and he sent me the script and this crazy letter, which was great. I'd never been kind of approached in that way. I was really impressed with the letter, and I read the script immediately and I really was very excited to be offered something in this genre. I mean, I'd never done it before. I thought the characters were good, and I like Matthew. And also it was months of work and I just don't get offered that. I'm not a leading guy. I usually hook up to a film and then, in a month and a half, I'm gone.
15I have no problem playing the funny sidekick. I'm a grunt; I'm a sergeant, an officer. I'm on point with everyone else.
16The definition of Sahara is '"to have no memory", and it's true. When you go out in the desert, no matter what's going on in your world, you see the dunes and nothing else, and you think of nothing else.
17You still really fight for good parts. It never stops. It's never a breeze. The people at the top of their game work as hard as the people at the bottom.
18I still really love acting. I find it really challenging. And I really love film; it's a lot of fun. Theater is a big commitment. Most of the time, you sign a five-month contract. You do eight shows a week and have one day off. There's no time to go home.


1Son-in-law of catalog clothier J. Peterman.
2In May 2011, Zahn traveled from New Orleans (where he lived while shooting Treme (2010)) to Tuscaloosa, Alabama, to help with the relief effort in the aftermath of the massive EF4 tornado that struck Tuscaloosa in April 2011. The tornado killed 53 people in the Tuscaloosa area and destroyed thousands of homes and businesses. Zahn helped clear debris left by buildings and trees with little fanfare or press attention.
3Is a huge history buff.
4Loves documentary films.
5He shot his entire role in Shattered Glass (2003) in three days, during a five-day break from filming Daddy Day Care (2003).
6He spent nearly six weeks fighting for a role in Courage Under Fire (1996), up against Matt Damon. The day he found out Damon landed the film role over him, he was offered the part in That Thing You Do! (1996).
7His surname translates to "tooth" in German. His father is of German and Swedish descent and his mother is of German ancestry.
8Is a Harvard graduate.
9One night during the filming of Rescue Dawn (2006), he got up to use the toilet. While urinating, he fainted. When he woke up, he was initially mad at himself for drinking so much. Awakening further, he realized that he hadn't had any alcohol for about three months, and that he had probably fainted because he had lost so much weight for the part. To regain his mental focus, he played video-game golf.
10Lost 40 pounds for his role in Rescue Dawn (2006).
11Conferred honorary PhD in Fine Arts from Northern Kentucky University 4 May 2007.
12He founded a theater company called Malaparte with Ethan Hawke, Robert Sean Leonard, and Frank Whaley.
13Mother's name is Zelda Zahn.
14Gained 20 pounds for Employee of the Month (2004).
15Has two children, Henry and Audrey, with wife Robyn Peterman.
16Met future wife, Robyn Peterman, during a 13-month national touring company of "Bye Bye Birdie", in which they appeared together.
17In July of 2004, Zahn and his family moved from their rural farm in New Jersey to a horse farm in Lexington, Kentucky, his wife's hometown.
18Was Tom Everett Scott's best man at his wedding.
19Briefly attended the Guthrie Theater Drama School in Minneapolis, Minnesota, but dropped out to pursue his film career.
20Is an accomplished singer/guitarist. He played lead guitar and sang in That Thing You Do! (1996) and played guitar and sang in Saving Silverman (2001).
21Graduated from Robbinsdale-Cooper Senior High School, New Hope, Minnesota.
22Is an avid fly fisherman. Owns a farm in Western New Jersey.
23His father is a Lutheran minister.
24Was raised in Minnesota.
25Son Henry James Zahn (born April 3rd 2000) and Daughter Audrey Clair Zahn (born April 25th 2002).




War for the Planet of the Apes2017post-production
Lean on Pete2017post-production
Captain Fantastic2016Dave
Mad Dogs2015-2016TV SeriesCobi
The Ridiculous 62015Clem
The Good Dinosaur2015Thunderclap (voice)
Modern Family2014-2015TV SeriesRonnie
Mind Games2014TV SeriesClark Edwards
Treme2010-2013TV SeriesDavis McAlary
Randy Cunningham: 9th Grade Ninja2013TV SeriesTerry McFist
Knights of Badassdom2013Eric
Dallas Buyers Club2013Tucker
Escape from Planet Earth2013Hawk (voice)
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days2012Frank Heffley
Phineas and Ferb2008-2012TV SeriesSwampy
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules2011Frank Heffley
Diary of a Wimpy Kid2010Frank Heffley
Calvin Marshall2009Coach Little
A Perfect Getaway2009Cliff
Night Train2009/IPete
Monk2009TV SeriesJack Monk, Jr.
Unstable Fables: 3 Pigs & a Baby2008Sandy Pig (voice)
Strange Wilderness2008Peter
Sunshine Cleaning2008Mac
The Great Buck Howard2008Kenny
Comanche Moon2008TV Mini-SeriesGus McCrae
Rescue Dawn2006Duane
Chicken Little2005Runt of the Litter (voice)
Chicken Little2005Video GameRunt of the Litter (voice)
Sahara2005Al Giordino
Speak2004Mr. Freeman
Employee of the Month2004Jack
Shattered Glass2003Adam Penenberg
Daddy Day Care2003Marvin
National Security2003Hank Rafferty
Stuart Little 22002Monty (voice)
Riding in Cars with Boys2001Ray Hasek
Chelsea Walls2001Ross
Wolf Lake2001TV SeriesFletch
Joy Ride2001Fuller
Dr. Dolittle 22001Archie (voice)
Saving Silverman2001Wayne
Chain of Fools2000Kresk
Stuart Little1999Monty (voice)
Freak Talks About Sex1999Freak
Forces of Nature1999Alan
Happy, Texas1999Wayne Wayne Wayne Jr., aka David
You've Got Mail1998George Pappas
Safe Men1998Eddie
Out of Sight1998Glenn Michaels
The Object of My Affection1998Frank Hanson
From the Earth to the Moon1998TV Mini-SeriesElliott See
Liberty! The American Revolution1997TV Mini-SeriesAmerican Sergeant
SUBWAYStories: Tales from the Underground1997TV MovieTucker (segment "The 5:24")
That Thing You Do!1996Lenny Haise
Race the Sun1996Hans Kooiman
Friends1995TV SeriesDuncan
Picture Windows1995TV SeriesCrook
Crimson Tide1995William Barnes
Normandy: The Great Crusade1994TV MovieBill Preston (voice)
Reality Bites1994Sammy Gray
South Beach1993TV SeriesLane Bailey
Rain Without Thunder1992Jeremy Tanner
First Love, Fatal Love1991TV Movie
All My Children1990TV SeriesSpence


Treme2010TV Series performer - 5 episodes
Phineas and Ferb2008-2009TV Series performer - 2 episodes
Management2008performer: "Feel Like Makin' Love"
Chicken Little2005performer: "Wannabe"
You've Got Mail1998performer: "The Instrument Song" - uncredited
Reality Bites1994performer: "Conjunction Junction"


Kuhani2013Short special thanks
Inside 'Out of Sight'1998Video documentary short special thanks


Extra2014TV SeriesHimself
Good Day L.A.2014TV SeriesHimself
Sixth Man: Bluesanity2013DocumentaryHimself
Gomorron2009TV SeriesHimself - Om Filmen 'A Perfect Getaway'
WWII in HD2009TV Mini-Series documentaryNolen Marbrey
The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien2009TV SeriesHimself
Tavis Smiley2005-2009TV SeriesHimself
Entertainment Tonight2009TV SeriesHimself
Up Close with Carrie Keagan2007-2008TV SeriesHimself
13th Annual Critics' Choice Awards2008TV SpecialHimself
Deep Inside2008TV SeriesHimself
Making of a True Story: Rescue Dawn2007Video documentary shortHimself
Shootout2007TV SeriesHimself
Late Night with Conan O'Brien1998-2007TV SeriesHimself
Hatching 'Chicken Little'2006Video documentary short
Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show2005TV SeriesHimself
Across the Sands of Sahara2005Video documentary shortHimself
Making 'Sahara'2005Video shortHimself
Visualizing 'Sahara'2005Video documentary shortHimself
Live with Kelly and Michael2005TV SeriesHimself
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno1999-2005TV SeriesHimself / Himself - Guest
The Making of 'Joy Ride'2002Video shortHimself
The Rosie O'Donnell Show1996-2001TV SeriesHimself
Late Show with David Letterman1998-2001TV SeriesHimself
HBO First Look1996-2001TV Series documentaryHimself
Comedy Central Canned Ham2001TV SeriesHimself
The Daily Show1999TV SeriesHimself
Inside 'Out of Sight'1998Video documentary shortHimself

Archive Footage

Entertainment Tonight2009TV SeriesHimself
Buscando a Penélope2009TV Movie documentaryQuentin
60/902008TV SeriesSammy Gray


Won Awards

2000Independent Spirit AwardIndependent Spirit AwardsBest Supporting MaleHappy, Texas (1999)
1999Special Jury PrizeSundance Film FestivalDramaticHappy, Texas (1999)

Nominated Awards

2014ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion PictureDallas Buyers Club (2013)
2008Chlotrudis AwardChlotrudis AwardsBest Supporting ActorRescue Dawn (2006)
2008Independent Spirit AwardIndependent Spirit AwardsBest Supporting MaleRescue Dawn (2006)
2007VVFP AwardVillage Voice Film PollBest Supporting ActorRescue Dawn (2006)
2000Blockbuster Entertainment AwardBlockbuster Entertainment AwardsFavorite Supporting Actor - Comedy/RomanceForces of Nature (1999)
2000Golden Satellite AwardSatellite AwardsBest Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture, Comedy or MusicalHappy, Texas (1999)
1997OFTA Film AwardOnline Film & Television AssociationBest Original SongThat Thing You Do! (1996)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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