Eugene Levy is an actor, producer, director and award-winning writer with two Emmy`s to his credit for his work on SCTV. He`s also a singer. Singer? Yep. Long before he played an aging folky in Mighty Wind, he was one of the people singing his heart out on the Tears Are Not Enough relief project for Ethiopia. Of course, that`s not how his career began.
Attending McMaster University in his hometown of Hamilton, Ontario, Levy was vice-president of the McMaster Film Board (MFB). Being a member had its privileges and then some. Ivan Reitman, director of such films as Stripes,Ghostbusters and Six Days, Seven Nights, was the president of the MFB and as luck would have it cast Levy in Cannibal Girls in 1973. This was the first feature film for both.
Joining the Second City Theatre troupe in 1974, Levy eventually met the circle of comics that would go on to dominate comedic films for years to come. He left the theatre ensemble in 1981 but overlapped his time with Second City with a television offshoot of the group called, SCTV from 1976-1984. At the time their only rivals were the cast of Saturday Night Live. The improvisational troupe included Catherine O’Hara, John Candy, Joe Flaherty, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, and Andrea Martin. Aside from performing, the group wrote all of their material and developed long standing characters throughout the run of the series.
During this time friendships turned into business relationships and it was difficult to see a movie with only one of the alumni involved. They seemed to travel together in every project they worked on. Movies like Father of the Bride (1991) and its sequel in 1995 reunited Levy with Martin Short. The Last Polka, which he also wrote in 1984, and Armed and Dangerous (1986), were just two of his collaborations with John Candy. Waiting for Guffman (1996), also written by Levy, allowed him to work yet again with Catherine O’Hara.
With cameos in movies like Splash, Vacation, Club Paradise and Multiplicity, Levy is the comedic equivalent to J.T.Walsh. You recognize him, but his name is always a brainwave away. His love for movies is apparent when scanning his filmography, he has appeared in at least one movie from 1991 to 1999, with 1993 being the exception. And it seems like his legion of fans keeps growing. American Pie, in 1999, introduced Levy to a whole new generation.
The dawning of a new century seemed to coincide with a whole new level of respect as Levy approached his 30th anniversary in showbiz. Since 2000, he has co-starred in a number of hit movies, including Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003), American Wedding (2003), New York Minute (2004), The Man (2005) and in 2006, in the Christopher Guest ensemble films For Your Consideration.
It is rare, in these days of action heroes and independent superstars, to see an actor appear with such a diverse list of names. Over the last 10 or 15 years he was worked with the likes of Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton and Tom Hanks, to name just a few. Reviewing his performances it is easy to see that he has been able to hold his own against these formidable talents, matching them line-for-line and usually stealing the scene in the process. And, of course, doing it with ease and while keeping his fans laughing in the process. Which, it seems, is what he was born to do.
In 2008 Eugene Levy was given the Governor General’s Performing Arts Award for lifetime artistic achievement. In 2010 the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) honoured him with its Award of Excellence. And he was named a member of the Order of Canada in 2011 for “his contributions as a comic actor and writer, and for his dedication to charitable causes.” Which seems like some pretty serious stuff for such a funny guy.
Also see: Eugene Levy’s filmography
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