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Zachary Levi on Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Published December 21, 2009 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of 20th Century Fox
After two seasons of Chuck, Zachary Levi stars in the film Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. He plays Toby Seville, who takes over watching the chipmunks from Dave (Jason Lee) after an Alvin-related injury. Don’t worry, Levi’s not about to start acting like a movie diva and forsake TV.

Zachary Levi Hanging with Chipmunks

“Television is a pretty great job to begin with, and I wouldn’t have anything if it weren’t for the jobs that I’ve had in the past, that have built up to that,” Levi said. “Do I want to do more films? Absolutely! Films tend to have more of a cache. If you’re a respected film actor, there tends to be more of an, ‘Oh, he’s a film actor’ but that’s more of a vestige to the ‘80s, where television wasn’t what it is now. In some ways, it’s so much better now. Because of the special effects and everything that movies have brought forth, television has had to really up its game, like Lost. I could watch Lost forever, and it’s going to be done.”

Hiatus movies can just be a little coffee break for Levi. “I enjoy doing what I do on Chuck, but you also get locked into playing one character, for maybe 10 years. That can be cool because you know the character, but it can also be a little creatively stifling sometimes because you want to play something different. With films, you’re playing something different, every couple of months, so that’s cool. And, if you’re lucky enough, you shoot films on location in amazing places, like Europe or Prague. Plenty of things have shot in Prague, and I’ve almost gotten to do that a couple of times. I was like, ‘Man, I would really love to go to Prague!’ I’ve never been to Europe. I’ve been to London twice, for some press, but I’ve never been anywhere else, and I just keep hoping that work will bring me there.”

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel Poster Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel

Since the chipmunks are all added later with CGI, Levi was basically the only actor on the set for many scenes. “That was a little odd but wherever God puts you, you just be thankful for that, do the best you can and hope that it doesn’t completely look ridiculous, at the end of the day. I think it all came together good. I was really anxious to see how all the eye lines worked out. I was like, ‘Man, I hope I didn’t screw all of that stuff up.’ But, of course, they were watching it and telling you, ‘Hey, you’re looking off into space right now. Make sure you look down at Alvin.’ So, when I was watching it, I believed that I was looking at things that weren’t really there, so hopefully the kids will.”

Toby is a video game obsessed loser who still lives with his mom. “Toby was always envisioned as being me, I guess. I don’t know. He’s the burn-out, video game playing, stuck in a state of arrested development kind of guy, who had a traumatic experience in high school and never really got past that, but loves his video games. I’ve had friends that were very Toby, in my life. I was even very Toby, in my life. I still am a little Toby, in my life. I was trying to draw from all of that stuff. It’s a kid’s movie, so clearly you can’t see him doing anything, but he probably has a substance problem of some kind. I don’t know. He’s there, but he’s not there. He’s Toby. That was everything I was trying to put into that, and I think it comes across. I hope it does. I know my manager was like, ‘All right, well, I’ve now seen you play a stoner and that’s good. You’re done. You don’t need to do that anymore.’”

Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel opens Christmas Day.
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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of 20th Century Fox

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