HH H _r ° 11
IA/ LC--7-Ez- 4
$85°° (feeds 6-8 people)
to know why the
actors have to be so
"I'm gentile:' he
says. "You don't see
me going around
saying, look at my
isn't totally in the
format of Guest and
Levy's other films.
The Purim film
within the film is
totally scripted, but
the rest is totally
improvised, like its
How did Levy, 59,
and Guest, 58, come up with Home
for Purim? Levy isn't sure. "It actu-
ally was one of the first things that
we came up with when we started
working on the film. It's on the first
page of the notes. I don't know why
or how. Maybe it's that thing you were
alluding to before — that not too far
under the skin, the things you find
amusing are closer to home than you
think they are.
"It is kind of a funny title for a
movie. I remember when [we] used
to go out to eat [and] had bad ser-
vice, someone would say, `I hope I get
my meal before Purim:"
Levy was born and raised in
Hamilton, Ont. His father was a fore-
man on an automobile assembly line,
and his mother was a homemaker. He
spent most of his life in an area that
had only two other Jewish families.
"I grew up in a very gentile world,
and that was the world I knew
— except that I was different because
I was Jewish," he says.
He remembers feeling mostly odd
that while other kids went out to play,
he had to go to Hebrew school after
"It was always kind of odd — well,
maybe not overly odd — that what I
remember most from Hebrew school
is that no one could control the kids
in the classroom. There wasn't much
they could do to make the kids calm
down. They would always threaten.
But not in a menacing way. The rab-
bis were sweet guys, but they were
someone's grandfather who came in
Midway through high school,
Levy's family moved to the west end
of Hamilton, the city's Jewish sec-
tion, and "I found myself in a differ-
ent kind of social setting," he says.
"My social scene started to get more
Jewish in the sense that all the parties
I was going to were now all Jewish.
Everybody was Jewish.
"I don't know that it affected me
one way or the other. I don't think it
stuck in the sense that I never grew
up honestly feeling that I had to
date Jewish women or keep my life
Levy attended but did not graduate
from Hamilton's McMaster University.
He spent lots of time working in the
college's film and theater society —
and not enough time in class. Among
the people he attended school with
were Martin Short and film director
Ivan Reitman, who cast Levy in his
In the end, of course, the time
spent on extracurricular activities
was well spent. Levy has become one
of Hollywood's premier comic actors
— not, as he is quick to note, a come-
"I have this thing when I'm doing
a talk show and I'm introduced as
comedian Eugene Levy. There is an
expectation that I have to be funny as
a stand-up, and I'm not. My comedy
comes through characters. People
expect me to be funny, and some-
times I am, but I always feel pres-
Where Levy excels is in bringing
comedic gravitas to films that might
otherwise be considered stupid.
Consider his role in the American
Pie movies. In one of the most
talked-about scenes, Levy walks
into a room and catches his son in a
compromising position with a baked
good. He turns out to be supportive
of the boy, and one of the funniest
scenes in the movie is at the same
time oddly touching.
Similarly, while Steve Martin does
his physical shtick in Bringing
Down the House, it is Levy who
makes believable a love between a
small Jewish man and a large black
woman (Queen Latifah).
Was that the first time he got the
girl? "I think that was the first time,"
Does that mean he now is up for
sex symbol roles?
"I don't like to flaunt it." I 1
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November 16 • 2006