Erin Nolan February 16, 2009
Is there anything sadder than seeing a promising young actor make a colossal mistake, one that could potentially ruin a career that’s barely out of the gate? I’m not talking about the Lindsay Lohans of the world, the ones who, after experiencing their first taste of fame, get distracted and lose interest in pursuing their craft. Instead, I’m referring to the poor souls who are truly talented but seem to lack sound judgment when it comes to choosing roles. It greatly pains me to have to put Zachary Levi in that category.
Over the past season-and-a-half, Levi has won me over with his portrayal of Chuck Bartowski, the computer nerd with a head full of government secrets on the criminally underappreciated NBC series Chuck. On each and every episode, Levi proves he can do comedy (his every interaction with costar Adam Baldwin is priceless), drama (he and Yvonne Strahovski are the hottest almost-couple on TV) and even action (okay, his character usually spends most of the action sequences ducking and hiding, but he busts out with some lucky moves every once and a while). Did I mention he’s also extremely handsome, but he comes across as completely attainable due to his natural charm and self-deprecating sense of humor? He even sings! Check out this clip of him performing with Band From TV (he appears just before the 2:00 mark). Then brace yourselves for some bad news.
A guy with that kind of charisma and such versatile talents should have no trouble finding quality film work, right? You’d think his agent’s phone would be ringing off the hook with attractive offers. But apparently that’s not the case. Because I’d like to believe that if Zachary Levi were receiving multiple offers for film roles, he would’ve turned down the chance to star in Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. (Trust me, I wish I were making that title up.)
Levi will be playing the cousin of Jason Lee‘s character from the first film. His co-stars will include three animated chipmunks voiced by Justin Long, Matthew Gray Gubler and Jesse McCartney. Those three rising stars can be forgiven for their participation in the film since their faces won’t actually appear on screen, but Levi should be ashamed of himself. Sure, the first Chipmunks movie made a boatload of cash, but Lee took a lot of abuse for appearing in it (which probably explains why they needed to replace him in the sequel). Hasn’t anyone explained to Levi yet that you’re supposed to make bad kiddie movies when your career is winding down, not gearing up? Hasn’t anyone told him that just because once-great comedians like Steve Martin make these kinds of movies, it doesn’t make it okay?
Zach Levi is a smart and funny guy who’s terrific every week on his smart and funny TV show. So why can’t he find a smart and funny movie to make? Jason Segel has been able to get a respectable movie career up and running, despite being obligated to How I Met Your Mother most of the year. Levi would serve himself well to follow Segel’s example.
While I’m sitting here worrying about the future of one of my favorite young actors, a piece of good news comes along that gives me hope. John Krasinski, another talented TV actor who’s so far struggled to find good movie roles, will be starring in a new comedy from Nancy Meyers alongside Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin. Already this sounds like a huge improvement over License to Wed. Maybe making a few bad movies is just part of the process of transitioning from TV star to movie star. Hopefully, Levi will eventually get to where Segel and Krasinski are now. But let’s just hope that he doesn’t give us anything quite as horrible as Leatherheads on his way there.
Categories: No CategoriesTags: Alvin and the chipmunks: the squeakquel, Chuck, Zachary levi