One of the films I'm eagerly waiting to see this summer is Werner Herzog's Rescue Dawn. The film is a harrowing tale of Vietnam War era jungle survival that has the leads Christian Bale and Steve Zahn going to extreme measures of method acting to "get into" the part. Bale has done this before and shown he can do a variety of things onscreen but what excites me most about this film is getting to see Zahn step outside the confines of what he usually does.
Zahn has specialized in comedies for the most part. Broken down even further he's been mostly in "buddy" comedies where he's the comic foil for other characters, usually a part bigger than his. I've been a big fan of Zahn's since 1994 when he was in the romantic comedy Reality Bites. Doing comedy suits Zahn as he's got incredible timing and can deliver sardonic one-liners with the best of anyone working in film today. While I've loved Zahn's ability to get laughs and play a series of goofy characters, I'm ready to see if he can do more serious work.
This may change with the two high profile dramatic roles Zahn will be seen in this year. Besides Rescue Dawn, he's also in the TV miniseries Comanche Moon, the latest adaptation from Larry McMurtry's beloved "Lonesome Dove" western novels. Zahn is playing Gus McCrae, so his work is cut out for him since Robert Duvall crafted the original McCrae in the legendary earlier adaptation in 1989.
Aside from 2007's Rescue Dawn and Comanche Moon, here are a few other films you should watch to see Zahn at his best: Reality Bites, the 1950s set comedy That Thing You Do! (1996), the gritty crime film Out of Sight (1998), the silly fish out of water caper comedy with Zahn sporting a giant mustache in Happy Texas (1999) and the teens in L.A. wasteland drama Suburbia (1996).