Ultimately talented, this dashing, self-proclaimed “nerd” is probably one of the most underrated personalities in Tinsel town. One only has to see “Tangled” to be convinced that Zachary can do more than just act. He can definitely make the audience laugh with little effort. He can carry a tune, and do it superbly! His Flynn Rider rendition opposite Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) is a solid testament to his singing prowess.
But it’s neither his good looks nor the plethora of other secret things he could do so well that landed him a spot here in thextraordinary site. We celebrate Zachary and his uncompromising stand as a believer in Jesus Christ in an industry rife with temptations of all sorts. Zachary is clearly being used as an instrument to reach out to his fellow artists, and he’s very much aware of his calling:
"The atmosphere in Hollywood in general is very anti-conservative, very anti-Christian. The liberal segment of Hollywood, which is 80 percent of it if not more, they look at Christians as hypocrites that are false and fake. The tough part is that in many cases I can’t argue with them. My job on my set, I believe, is to first just love people and gain that trust with people where they know that I really do love them and care about their well-being, so that when they are running into problems, they will hopefully, at some point, come to me and ask me, “What is your peace all about? What is your comfort all about? Where do you get your love? Where do you get your talents? And I can turn to them and say without blinking, ‘Jesus Christ.’” (Source: Relevant Magazine)
Early Life in a Christian Home
Zachary Levi Pugh, unlike what most people think, is not Jewish. He is of English, German, and Welsh descent. His parents, Susan Hoctor and Darrell Alton Pugh, used to live in Lake Charles, Louisiana where young Zach was born on 29 September 1980 after his older sister Shekinah Pugh. Another baby, also a girl, was added to the Pugh family and they named her Sarah.
Ever since he was a little boy, Zach had such an obvious affinity for performing. He would dance, sing, or even do a skit before his adoring audience, which at first was strictly composed of family brought together by special occasions. As young as six years old, Zachary began doing lead roles in theater productions, such as Grease, The Outsiders, Oklahoma, Oliver, The Wizard of Oz, and Big River at the Ojai Art Center. Coming from a family of Evangelical Christians, Zachary has been exposed to Christianity very early in life. He admits, however, that it was not until he completed high school that he really began to seriously examine his faith and eventually commit his life to serve the Lord Jesus.
Apart from performing, Zachary was also into sports. He tried a bit of volleyball and baseball, but he found diving most enjoyable. At 13 years old, Zachary officially joined their school’s diving team and would later go on sharing a funny anecdote about Speedo trunks his mom used to let him wear. Athletics provided him the physical balance he needed to eventually develop a fit figure.
As he was advancing in age, a lot of things happened that led to his discovery of his faith. During interviews, he often go back to his high school years as the time when he took part in every malevolent deed. For four years, Zachary was a student at Bueno High School. Just like any ordinary kid, he did his best to fit in even if it meant going against what he was taught at home. His adolescent experience was awkward and rebellious.
He had his own share of girls and substances. Obviously, Zachary ended up with the wrong crowd and was influenced to behave the way “cool kids” do. But no matter how screwed his adolescence was, he had a home where obedience and righteous living are observed.
Two things dawned on him right after completing high school: first is that he does not want any career besides acting and second is that he wants to stay as far away as possible from vices. Realizing how empty his high school had been, Zachary made a decision to make the most of his remaining life meaningful. This led him to go back to his roots and finally commit himself to God’s leading.
Zachary’s Acting Career Takes Shape
From then on, he’s made it a habit to consult the Lord and let Him do what He wills. Zachary’s getting into Hollywood was not serendipity at all but a conscious effort to improve his skills and fulfill his passion. He started out doing theater acting and made a debut as a screen actor in a TV movie titled “Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie.” It was released in 2002 and Zachary played a supporting role.
In the same year, he auditioned and won the part of Kipp Steadman in the TV series "Less Than Perfect." “See Jane Date,” a TV series, followed suit and Zachary got the role of Grant Asher. In spite of appearing in a couple of TV Series, Zachary is yet to get his big television break. To survive, he worked as a busboy at Blockbuster and was once employed in a car wash.
He made it to three different TV series in 2004 to 2005, namely “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “The Division,” and “Three” where he played bit parts. He starred as Evon Schwarz in Mark Douglas Miller’s “Reel Guerrillas,” a short film which did not really give him the break he needed but nonetheless augmented his meager income.
Zachary did not lose heart despite the sluggish pacing of his career. As long as he finds enjoyment in what he does, he was willing to put up with it. 2006 was a lot luckier for Zachary because he finally got to be part of a full-length movie. “Big Momma's House 2” was Zachary’s first project in Hollywood and he played the part of Kevin. His Kevin role, however, failed to propel him to stardom. It was the project he worked on next that finally did the trick.
Zach becomes Chuck
Still without any luck at making it big in Hollywood, Zach auditioned for the part of Chuck Bartowski and fortunately got the part. The character of Chuck hits closer to home for Zach who, like the character he plays, is also a sucker for gadgets. In fact, the story revolves around Chuck, a Stanford drop-out, who was thrust into the world of espionage after unknowingly downloading a virus that implanted classified information into his brain.
Chuck is basically a sit-com and Zach proved to be the perfect talent to play him. Naturally adorable and funny, Zach won the audience over. The series went on for eight seasons from 2007 to 2012.
Zach’s life was never the same again after his successful portrayal of Chuck Bartowski. In the same year that Chuck started airing, Daily News named him as one of five actors to watch. He was also nominated Satellite Award Best Actor in a Series in the Comedy or Musical category. With his career finally taking off, Zach also started getting more involved in his home church. Jeremy Boreing, his Pastor, collaborated with him in producing “Spiral” in 2005 where he also starred with close friend Joel Moore. It’s a production of Coattails Entertainment, a company he co-founded with Jeremy.
Without disregarding his faith, Zachary managed to balance his career and ministry. He considers his TV break a valuable opportunity to reach out to people who have no semblance of faith. Knowing how dangerous that could be, Zachary is in the business of welcoming people regardless of what they believe in and establish good relationship with them in the hope of sharing the word of God.
Zachary does not discriminate and he feels responsible as a believer to do his share of winning souls even if he is in an industry considered very un-Christ-like. He admits that without his devotion to prayer and his purging experience in high school, he won’t be able to survive. Temptations are everywhere and Christians are treated with contempt.
Zachary’s vocal profession of his faith irked some Chuck fans. When he tweeted some spiritual quotes and Christian teachings, a number of his fans were disappointed. He was not at the very least affected and took the bashings with a grain of salt. As far as Zachary is concerned, he is led to acting for a reason and he will use no matter how miniscule influence he has over people to share the joy of living in peace and having a God who is totally in control of everything. While he lost some Twitter followers, he gained more fans and inspired fellow Christians to be just as brave when it comes to their faith.
He won Best Leading Actor in a Comedy Series at Ewwy Awards in 2009 for his role in Chuck and got plenty of nominations. Chuck kept him busy for a long time and further developed his acting skills. It also gave him the opportunity to produce and direct. Out of almost 100 Chuck episodes, Zachary directed three of them and is most happy with how they turned out.
Tangled and the Nerd Machine
From 2007 to 2010, Zachary was involved in TV movies and videogame production. An avid gamer, Zachary lent his voice to "Halo: Reach" and "Fallout: New Vegas." If there’s one thing Zachary couldn’t really curb is his penchant for gaming. He loved it because it tells a story with the audience (the gamer) being heavily involved.
Unknown to many (until his first animated movie was released), Zachary has a soft spot for Disney. He grew up watching Aladdin—his favorite—and Alice in Wonderland. Up to the time some of his childhood friends started having their own children, Zachary would hang out with the kids watching Disney cartoons. When he was a young boy, their family frequented Disneyland and it made such a profound impression on him that he still revels at watching Disney movies as a grown-up. He’s never outgrown his fascination for Disney which explains how he was able to give a stunning performance in “Tangled.”
Just when Warner Bros. seemed to have outdone the world’s authority in making animated films, Disney released a reprisal of the Brothers Grimm’s Rapunzel. Zachary Levi won the part of Eugene Fitzherbert also known as Flynn Rider, a thief who became Rapunzel’s love interest. It was when Zachary’s vocal skills came to the fore. Tangled was nominated for Best Original Song title “I See the Light” performed by Zachary himself and Mandy Moore, the artist behind Rapunzel. His singing prowess was again displayed in his “Terrified” rendition with Katharine McPhee.
The success of his Tangled movie and Terrified single officially made Zachary a celebrity. He would later on become an entrepreneur / philanthropist when he established the Nerd Machine, an apparel company with a cool website that helps raise funds for Operation Smile. The Nerd Machine holds an annual event called Nerd HQ similar to Comic-Con, only a lot more intimate. All the proceeds go to Operation Smile, an initiative that helps children with cleft lip undergo reconstructive surgery. So far, his company has donated thousands of dollars to the delight of children who can now smile without any hesitation.
Even before he became famous, Zachary likes helping people. At one time, he produced Kendall Payne's album “Grown” when Capitol Records refused to finance its release. When he won a race, he donated his 15,000 dollars prize money to Operation Smile.
Hobbies and Relationships
Despite his hectic schedule, Zachary finds time to engage in sports, which pretty much explains why he is so fit. When he isn’t filming, he likes spending his time outdoors doing one of the following sports: skateboarding, snowboarding, and skydiving. When he feels like just staying home, you’ll most probably find him playing Nintendo Wii. He’s also quite good at poker. Zachary knows how to reward himself for the hard work he does. He owns a Harley Davidson and a Ducati, two of the most high-end motorcycle brands. He also drives a Nissan GT-R super sports car when he joins races.
Zachary is currently single but has been in a relationship with three celebrities, the latest being a musician named Caitlin Crosby with whom he broke up with in 2010. We will see him next in “Thor: The Dark World” as Fandral, one of the lead character’s loyal warriors.
Organizations and Programmes Supported
- Children's Hospital Los Angeles
- Clothes Off Our Back
- Conversations for a Cause
- Feeding America
- Motion Picture and Television Fund Foundation
- Operation Smile
- Padres Contra el Cancer
- Racing for Kids
- Stand Up To Cancer
- The Art of Elysium
- Tuberous Sclerosis Alliance
- Young Storytellers Foundation
- The Nerd Machine
- Coattails Entertainment
Awards and Achievements
- 2002: Debuted as a support cast in a TV movie titled Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie
- 2002: Played Kipp Steadman in the TV series "Less Than Perfect"
- 2003: Appeared in the television movie See Jane Date
- 2007: Co-produced and co-starred in Spiral, an independent film made with his friends Joel Moore and Jeremy Boreing
- 2007: Landed the starring role in Chuck
- 2007: Named by Daily News as one of five actors to watch
- 2007: Nominated Satellite Award Best Actor in a Series, Comedy or Musical
- 2008: Ranked number 22 in Entertainment Weekly's Top Thirty People Under Thirty
- 2009: Participated in TMobile’s myFaves Shot of a Lifetime celebrity shoot-out and raised $10,000 for Operation Smile
- 2010: Tandem with Yvonne Strahovski won Best Action Actor and Actress Choice TV Series for the Teen Choice Awards
- 2010: Lent the voice of Flynn Ryder in the animated movie, Tangled
- 2010: Featured in Katharine McPhee's album in the single Terrified
- 2010: Started his own company, The Nerd Machine
- 2010: Started raising money for the charity Operation Smile
- 2010: Won the Pole Position at the Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race
- 2011: Provided narration for Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story
- 2011: Ranked number 97 in BuddyTV's list of "TV's Sexiest Men"
- 2011: Played for Magic Johnson's team during the Celebrity All Star Game at NBA All Star Weekend
- 2011: Hosted Spike Video Game Awards
- 2013: Debuted in Broadway production in First Date
- Had been a guest member of Band from TV, a band made up of actors from various American TV shows
- Co-owns Coattails Entertainment
Wikipedia (Zachary Levi)
IMDB (Biography for Zachary Levi)
TV Guide (Zachary Levi: Biography)
New York Daily News ('Chuck' star Zachary Levi and singer Caitlin Crosby split after two years together)
Relevant Magazine (Q&a With Zachary Levi)
New York Post (Zachary Levi makes a stunning Broadway debut in ‘First Date’)
Screen Rant (Zach Levi on Being a Disney Hunk in ‘Tangled’, A Singer, A Superhero & ‘Chuck’)
Collider (Zachary Levi Interview TANGLED)
Collider (Zachary Levi CHUCK Series Finale Set Visit Interview)
Mouse Clubhouse (A Mouse Clubhouse Exclusive Interview: Zacahary Levi)
Elle (Everything You Need to Know About Going on a First Date With Zachary Levi)
The Hollywood Reporter (Comic-Con: Zachary Levi on His Nerd HQ, a Convention Within the Convention)
Look to the Stars (Nerd HQ Raises $215,000 For Operation Smile)
Look to the Stars (Zachary Levi Charity Work, Events and Causes)
Relevant Magazine (The Life and Faith of 'Chuck' Star Zac Levi)
GQ (The Verge Q+A: Zachary Levi, Star of Chuck, Most Interesting Christian in Hollywood)
Examiner.com [Liberals declare Twitter war on Chuck's Zachary Levi (Photos)]