By Emily Feimster
Zachary Levi may not have a lot of movie experience but he's busting out in a big way, playing an FBI agent alongside Martin Lawrence, in "Big Momma's House 2," premiering January 27.
"I didn't have any film credits and they just took a chance on me," admits Levi, who before now has been known as Kipp on "Less Than Perfect." "It was a fantastic experience and we got to go to New Orleans right before the hurricane hit so I got the opportunity to see the city before it was changed forever."
When comparing this movie to the first "Big Momma's House," Levi says, "What was great about the first one is that it never took itself too seriously. It's all about enjoying a good comedy and this new one is the same way. They spared no expense either. There are some really big stunts they pull off with Big Momma."
However, his biggest thrill came from working with Lawrence. "Working on 'Less Than Perfect,' I worked with a lot of celebrities, but I've never really worked with a big movie star before. Doing scenes with Martin, I didn't want to be too intimidated because you want to bring a level of confidence to it." Luckily, he says, his co-star made him feel very comfortable.
It seems that luck has been on Levi's side long before there was any talk of him doing this movie. After all, his tale of making it is quite different from most actors who spend years waiting tables. "I was doing a play in Ojai, California and this woman discovered me. She got me to a manager who got me to a casting manager who got me to an agency and God just did the rest," he explains. "I ended up auditioning for everything. It was only a matter of time before I got a break with 'Less Than Perfect.'"
Before then, Levi's experience had only been with local productions. "I was just a drama geek, basically. I started when I was like five or six doing some church musicals. I was always kind of a class clown. I guess you could say I had a stage presence," he quips. "Then in middle school they were doing 'Grease' and I got a part. From 7th grade on, I did at least one play a year."
Despite having had many positive experiences, Levi's certainly experienced his share of drawbacks of the business. "People have this dream of going to Hollywood and seeing what happens, and then everyone who's done it will say it's tough. I only lived 45 minutes outside of L.A. so I already had people telling me how tough it was," he explains. "I came down pretty much with my eyes open about how difficult it would be. I was blessed in that I got a pilot the first year I was auditioning, but it's certainly not as easy as it was for me. Even with that, there was still a lot of heartbreak and rejection."
Levi continues, "Overall I wouldn't trade it for anything. It's what I love doing and it's what I hope to do for the rest of my life." He's already in the midst of his next project, "Spiral," in which he and his friends are starring as well as directing and producing. "Hopefully this will springboard us into our next project and help me book more film roles," he says.
So what does Levi hope to accomplish throughout his career? "This is my first film break so I'm hoping to parlay it into a long-lasting career," he responds. "My ultimate goal is to have my own production company that produces film, television, and music that is life changing. I want to be able to impact anyone who listens or watches anything that my company has a hand in. I want it to be a company that is ultimately a part of bigger and greater things when it comes to changing the world and making an impact on people." Well, with his kind of luck, anything is possible.