He’s done sitcoms (Less Than Perfect), action flicks (Thor: The Dark World), voicework (Tangled)… and played slacker-turned-human-computer Chuck Bartowski in the hit spy comedy Chuck, which ran for five seasons and turned him into a Comic Con icon.
These days, Zachary Levi serves as the host of Syfy’s bar trivia and stunt challenge game show Geeks Who Drink (Thursdays, 11/10c) whilst gearing up for the Sept. 24 premiere of Heroes Reborn, a 13-episode continuation of the 2006-2010 NBC series that casts him as a revenge-thirsty dad.
We investigate his geek and booze bona fides, how he became a hero and how he’s hangin’ with Eva Longoria, so to speak.
“A lot of people know me from Tangled. They love Tangled.”
What’s the geekiest thing about you? Do you collect comic books or action figures?
No. I used to. I’m not a collector. For me, geeky and nerdy are synonymous with passionate. What am I passionate about? Technology, entertainment, the future of all that, and wanting to be at the tip of that sphere and make great stuff for people.
How good are you at trivia?
I’m pretty decent. I know a little about a lot but I don’t know a lot about any one thing.
What’s your drink of choice?
Tequila rocks, a spritz of soda and a lime squeeze. I like Don Julio Blanco, Patron Silver, any Reposado is nice.
What can you tease about Heroes Reborn? I hear you lobbied for a role.
Yes. I was a fan of the show. Chuck came around a year after Heroes premiered and my work schedule was not too kind to my television watching. So I got to watch the first season and a half of Heroes. As a kid who grew up reading comic books and playing video games, it was, ‘How can you not love this?’ It was ahead of its time and really changed the game in a lot of ways. It pushed the envelope.
So you jumped at it?
Yes. Also I love miniseries—I think it’s a great way to tell stories. And from an acting perspective, it’s very difficult to decide on a regular television show: ‘Am I going to do this for five years?’ So I talked to [creator] Tim Kring, he told me about the character, and I said ‘Let’s do it.’
What’s your character Luke Collins’ story?
When you first see him, he and his wife Joanne, played by Judi Shekoni, lay waste to a group of people with abilities, or EVOs—evolved humans. In the back story, a year prior to that was this massive incident, a terrorist attack of sorts, where we lost our son and a lot of people lost their loved ones. It’s been blamed on EVOs, and we think what we need to do is rid the world of people with abilities, for our own personal vengeance but also because it will make the world a better place. You very quickly learn why they are on that journey, but will that journey ultimately pay off for their souls, for their psyche? There are some characters that are a little bit more defined in their villainy, but even they are very convinced of why they’re doing what they’re doing. I think that makes it dynamic and layered and something that people can actually relate to. I love that I’m able to be part of another show that hits my demographic and fan base from Chuck. And I love being able to do cool stuff.
Are you still planning to do a Chuck movie?
I’d love to. I don’t know when, I don’t know how. As far as I know, no one is trying to make it but me, of all the people who can make it. I’ve had the idea since the fourth season. Maybe we should take it online and sell it directly to fans.
Is Chuck the show you’re recognized most for?
Yeah, probably. But a lot of people know me from Tangled. They love Tangled.
Are you doing the voice for the TV series version?
Yes, me and Mandy Moore.
You have another series, Hot and Bothered.
It’s Eva Longoria’s new comedy. It will be on NBC in the spring. I’m a recurring character—I’m doing four episodes. I play a mid-30s, very white network president of a network like Telemundo who speaks better Spanish than Eva does.
What else is on your agenda? What’s the game plan, personally and professionally?
I really want to find a balance in life and be healthy and be happy and know real joy, and bring that to as many people as I can at the same time. I think that there’s a lack of it and as much as we can work hard to make other people’s lives better, even incrementally sometimes, it’s a beautiful thing.
Photo by Jaimie Trueblood/Syfy