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Zen Gesner

Birth Date: June 23 1970
Birth Place: N/A

Zen’s name is derived from the Japanese religious sect that preaches enlightenment through meditation. Before he was born, his father and mother visited Japan and became enamored by the country’s architecture and its religion. The son of renowned stage actress, Nan Martin, Zen was Five when his mother created a starring role for him in a home movie in which Zen discovers an ancient Spanish sword which evokes a vision of an old Conquistador. Zen’s initial interest was in music. He plays the piano and trumpet. Serious interest in acting was not stirred until high school, where he answered an audition for a small part in a production of "Hamlet." "They were looking for a trumpet player and I played the trumpet," Zen recalled. "That’s when I was Bitten by the bug. ‘Hamlet’ had it all -- swordfighting, action and high drama. By my senior year, I was performing in major roles in plays such as ‘Nicholas Nickleby’ and ‘The Sound of Music.’" He also was the school’s drum major, where he set the pace for Santa Monica High School’s 160-piece marching band in Santa Monica, California. By this time, Zen had set his sights on an acting career. After graduating from high school, Zen joined Orange County, California’s South Coast Repertory Company. There, he performed in bit parts and watched and learned from the wings. On a lark, he also applied to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, which counted among its alumni such esteemed actors as Richard Harris and Stacey Keach. To his surprise, he was accepted to the London Academy’s intensive summer program on Shakespeare. Within a matter of weeks, he was offered a position in the Academy’s general program. In addition to performing in plays such as Richard III, The Cherry Orchard and Anything Goes, Zen was schooled in everything from fire blowing, to poetry, to archery, to fencing. In his second year, he earned an advanced certificate from The Society of British Fight Directors." Following graduation from the Academy, Zen remained in London for a short time pursuing his acting career and serving as assistant to the Fight Director at the Royal Opera House. Returning home to Los Angeles, he soon found work in L.A. Theatre Works appearing in a radio play production of Leocadia, opposite his mother. His first major break came when he won a small, but prominent part as an FBI Agent in the Box Office hit, Dumb and Dumber. Zen, who grew up surfing the waves of Malibu, took to his next acting assignment like a fish to water -- playing a surfer in the Chris Isaak music video, "Somebody’s Crying." Most recently, he appeared in a featured role opposite Randy Quaid, Bill Murray and Woody Harrelson in Kingpin. Following his role in this wild bowling movie, Zen next rolled a strike when he read for the part of Sinbad.
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