Zahn was born in Marshall, Minnesota, the son of Carleton Edward Zahn, a Lutheran minister, and Zelda Clair Zahn, a bookstore clerk and later a YMCA administrator. His father is of German and Swedish descent, and his mother is of German ancestry.  Zahn spent part of his childhood in Mankato, Minnesota, attending Kennedy Elementary School, and moved to the suburbs of Minneapolis for high school, where he acted in school plays and became a two-time Minnesota state speech champion. He graduated from Robbinsdale Cooper High School in 1986, planning eventually to join the United States Marine Corps.
Subscribe to our email newsletter to receive updates