Birthdate: September 29, 1980
Birthplace: Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA
Zachary Levi (birthname: Zachary Levi Pugh) has established his star status as the recurring character of Billy Batson/Shazam in the successful franchise launched in 2019. Levi’s feature debut was a major supporting role in the Martin Lawrence-starring sequel, Big Momma’s House 2 (2006), with Nia Long, Mark Moses, and Kat Dennings, grossing $141.5 million globally.
Levi co-starred and executive-produced the indie psychological drama, Spiral (2007), with Amber Tamblyn, premiering at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. After featuring in the Sony-released comedy, Wieners (2008), starring Keenan Thompson, Jenny McCarthy, and Darrell Hammond, Levi had his first starring role in writer-director Jaffar Mahmood’s Shades of Ray (2008), with Sarah Shahi and Kathy Baker, and premiering at the Austin Film Festival.
Zachary Levi’s first major studio starring role was as the voice of Toby in the Betty Thomas-directed live-action/animated musical comedy, Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel (2009), earning a huge $443 million worldwide on a $70 million budget. Levi parlayed this success into another vocal co-starring role in Disney’s animated musical version of the Brothers Grimm’s “Rapunzel” tale, Tangled (2010), with Mandy Moore and Donna Murphy, earning a solid $592.4 million.
Levi took a break from acting to serve as narrator for filmmaker Kevin Tostado’s Under the Boardwalk: The Monopoly Story (2010), which had a very limited theatrical release after premiering at the 2010 Anaheim Film Festival. Levi had a small supporting role in his second Disney-backed movie, the MCU epic, Thor: The Dark World (2013), starring Chris Hemsworth, Natalie Portman, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, and Idris Elba, grossing a powerful $645 million worldwide.
Levi was again narrator on a documentary, APEX: The Story of the Hypercar (2016), followed by a co-starring role in a digitally filmed version (shot at the Roundabout Theatre Company and theatrically released by BroadwayHD) of the Joe Masteroff/Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick musical, She Loves Me (2016), with Laura Benanti and Jane Krakowski.
Zachary Levi revived his role as Fandrai in the MCU sequel, Thor: Ragnarok (2017), directed by Taika Waititi and featuring new cast members Cate Blanchett, Jeff Goldblum, and Mark Ruffalo, and grossing a super $854 million globally. Levi co-starred in the live-action role of Joseph (opposite Gina Rodriguez’s Mary) in Sony/Columbia’s animated/live-action Bible tale, The Star (2017), featuring the voices of Steven Yeun, Keegan-Michael Key, Kelly Clarkson, Tracy Morgan, Tyler Perry, and Oprah Winfrey, and earning a modest $62.8 million worldwide.
Zachary Levi’s biggest screen role to date was as the title character in the DC Extended Universe movie, Shazam! (2019), directed by David F. Sandberg, with Jack Dylan Grazer, Mary Strong, Asher Angel, and Djimon Hounsou, and grossing ($366 million) over four times costs ($80 million). In director Kevin Macdonald’s intense drama, The Mauritanian (2021), based on the memoir of U.S.-detained Guantanamo prisoner Mohamedou Ould Slahi, Levi had a supporting role opposite Jodie Foster, Tahar Rahim, Shailene Woodley, and Benedict Cumberbatch, with the film earning $7.5 million theatrically.
Levi portrayed Rams quarterback and NFL hero Kurt Warner in the biopic, American Underdog (2021), with Anna Paquin and Dennis Quaid, and failed to score at the box office with a weak gross of $26.5 million. A wonderful voice role for Levi came with filmmaker Richard Linklater’s superb, rotoscope animation saga, Apollo 10½: A Space Age Childhood (2022), with Glen Powell, Jack Black, and Josh Wiggins, and having a small theatrical window before streaming on Netflix. Levi resumed his role as Shazam in Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023), released by Warners and co-starring Jack Dylan Grazer, with Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren.
Levi starred in the Sony/Columbia release, Harold and the Purple Crayon (2023), based on Crockett Johnson’s children’s book, opposite Zooey Deschanel, Lil Rel Howery, and Ravi Patel, followed by a starring voice role (as Rocky, replacing Mel Gibson) in Aardman’s long-awaited sequel, Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget (date to be announced), with Thandiwe Newton, Romesh Ranganathan, and Daniel Mays.
Levi starred in writer-director Jon Gunn’s drama about a boy with autism and brittle bone disease, The Unbreakable Boy (date to be announced), with Meghann Fahy, Jacob Laval, and Patricia Heaton, and then co-starred with Rodriguez of writer-director Robert Rodriguez’s reboot of the Spy Kids franchise, Spy Kids: Armageddon (date to be announced).
Zachary Levi was born and raised in Lake Charles, Louisiana by parents Darrell and Susan Pugh. Levi has two siblings, Skekinah and Sarah. During his childhood, Levi’s family moved several times until they settled in Ventura, California. Levi began performing on stage at six years old, and later playing in regional theater in the Ventura and Ojai area, including a production of the musical, Big River, at the Ojai Art Center. Levi was married to Canadian actor Missy Peregrym from 2014 to 2015. Levi’s height is 6’ 3”. Levi’s estimated net worth is $12 million.
Philanthropist: Zachary Levi was named by the mental health charity, Active Minds, as an ambassador in 2019. Levi has addressed social media and written about his struggles with mental health and depression in his 2022 memoir, Radical Love.
Mistaken as Jewish: Levi is not Jewish; however, not only has Levi been mistaken as Jewish (due to his performing name), but ironically lost out on roles because he was told that he was “too Jewish.”