Steve Zahn praises small towns in America, talks serious role in 'The Crossing'

Steve Zahn says he’s best-known for his reliably goofy roles in films like “That Thing You Do!” and “Saving Silverman,” but he’s taking on a more serious gig for ABC’s upcoming drama “The Crossing.”

The show is about refugees from the future that turn up in a small town of Port Canaan, Oregon.

Zahn, 50, takes on the role of Sheriff Jude Ellis.

The star said getting offered a more serious character is something that’s finally come his way as he’s gotten older in show business.

“When I was younger you get pigeonholed in parts, which is understandable… You don’t look any different and you’re still the stoner [character],” he told reporters at the Television Critics Association’s Winter Press Tour. “But as you age and you get older in the business it becomes more interesting.”

He said when he was offered the role of the town sheriff he thought, “Oh I reached that point [in my career now].”

When he isn’t filming the series in Vancouver, Zahn is rarely in Los Angeles. He lives on a farm outside of Midway, Kentucky, where he raises children. He also owns a cabin in Minnesota.

He said he spends his free time “in a tractor.”

“For me, it’s just where I want to live,” he said of Kentucky. “I like it dark at night.

“I never wanted the business to dictate my life. I’m sure I’ve sacrificed and missed out on a lot of stuff, but I don’t know what that stuff is, so I just raised kids, and I wanted to be around for that. And now they’re about the venture off into their own worlds in a couple years and then I’ll go back to theater [and other roles]…. I didn’t do those jobs because of the commitment.”

He said spending time in Kentucky and in Minnesota, where he grew up, has allowed him to separate his work life from his personal life.

“I think it’s important [to be in touch with those parts of America],” he said. “I go away from work, I punch out, and I just go back to a normal, regular life where it’s not [work].”

Zahn added that a lot of people who live in Los Angeles and other big cities spend time networking when they aren’t working, and that’s just not for him. He prefers to disconnect and be with his family.

THE CROSSING - ABC's "The Crossing" stars Simone Kessell as Rebecca, Bailey Skodje as Leah, Marcuis Harris as Caleb, Luke Camilleri as Thomas, Kelley Missal as Hannah, Rob Campbell as Paul, Natalie Martinez as Reece, Steve Zahn as Jude Ellis, Sandrine Holt as Emma Ren, Jay Karnes as Craig Lindauer, Tommy Bastow as Marshall, Rick Gomez as Nestor, Luc Roderique as Bryce Foster, Georgina Haig as Dr. Sophie Forbin, and Grant Harvey as Roy. (ABC/Bob D'Amico)

 (© 2017 American Broadcasting Companies, Inc. All rights reserved. )

“I came from the farm to here yesterday and it was a shock,” he said of California.

Zahn is excited to the show air on the small screen.

He said he generally prefers Western scripts, and he isn’t attracted to high-concept sci-fi, but he thinks “The Crossing” is a great mix of drama with a touch of sci-fi thrown in.

“When I read this script it was a small town… and that’s what I loved about this script.”

“The Crossing” premieres on ABC on April 2.