The Life and Faith of 'Chuck' Star Zac Levi

The star of the hit show gives us a fascinating glimpse into being a Christian in Hollywood.

Step into the house of Zac Levi on any ordinary day and you’re likely to find more than you expected. Peek into the living room and you’ll see three or four people sitting around, tapping away on laptops. In the office, there’s an author writing a script. Walk upstairs and you’ll find an editing facility with a commercial editor hard at work.

“Zac’s home is like a fraternity house,” explains Jeremy Boreing, Levi’s business partner, “home church” pastor and close friend. “You can’t walk in without meeting someone you don’t know. Two of the bedrooms are always used by someone who needs a place to stay while they’re struggling financially. Saturdays are open for barbecues and Sundays are for home church.”

It’s an unlikely setting for a celebrity—many of whom live lives of seclusion, purchasing homes in obscure corners of the Hollywood Hills or deep inside the walls of gated communities.

But for Levi, the star of NBC’s hit action-comedy Chuck, his house is everyone’s house. It’s a place filled with friends and occasionally strangers, all sharing a combination of creative and Christian community.

It’s precisely this community—this link to “ordinary” life—that Levi points to as his anchor. His life is characterized by “celebrity” and all that comes with it (the parties, the press, the wealth) in one moment, at another moment he faces the realities of being a TV star (the weekly scripts, the late nights on set, the weekly challenge of saving the world) and in other moments he experiences the inevitable “letdown” of the off times.

Because of this whirlwind, Levi admits to needing friends, faith and a few fun escapes (i.e., video games and ping-pong) even more than the next guy. “You realize God is good and He gets you through whatever in life,” Levi says.

The grounding of faith

Faith is something that comes up often when you talk with Levi. “I’ve always had a really strong measure of faith,” he says. “Even when I was a little kid. I never was torn other than the normal day-to-day where you wonder and have doubts—but it always comes around.”

Levi admits to experiencing his share of the typical teenage rebellion—a time in his life when he was searching for a good time and not much else.

“I did my share of growing up, and high school is a turbulent time,” Levi recalls. “I certainly learned about girls, substances, friends and responsibilities. God protected me a lot and also let me fall on my face a lot. One big blessing of it all was purging a lot of that out of my system before I got into Hollywood. Not that I don’t go out with friends and have a good time, but I saw the emptiness and hollowness that it brings in high school, so it wasn’t such a temptation.”

It wasn’t until after high school that Levi says he really started to understand what he believed and what it meant to live the faith that came so easily to him.

“Embracing Christ fully was a choice I made later in life, when I was 18 and out of high school,” he says. “I had questions and on my own volition started going to church and learning on my own, and then it kind of went from there.”

Of course, having faith in Hollywood is an altogether different story—it’s certainly not a place that makes it easy.

“I think people find what they’re looking for,” Levi says. “If you’re looking for sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, you’ll find it. I’m looking for ping-pong and video games.

“Not that I haven’t had fun, but I’m blessed with solid people here in L.A. who would rather stay home. We’re all getting to an age around 30 or more, and the club life is so fleeting, trite ... and pretty fun, but if that’s your main course you won’t be satisfied.”

A Christian? In Hollywood?

To fight those doubts and the temptations of stardom, Levi has opted to worship among trusted friends and confidantes in an informal home church setting. The idea is based on his experiences with a similar worship service called The Bridge back in Ventura, where he feels the “very community-based” approach made worship services “very real, more about relationship and less about religion.”

Upon moving to L.A. after high school to pursue his acting career, Levi found “lots of groups of Christians” gathering around the city but never felt he belonged with any of them. After landing a part in the four-season ABC sitcom Less Than Perfect when he was 21, Levi knew finding a home base was an urgent matter. Eventually, he realized the men’s Bible study he was part of was fulfilling all his spiritual needs.

“The girlfriends and wives of the guys in the group didn’t have the same thing available,” Levi explains. “[So] we opened it up to everyone in the group, and it became a home church. Straight up Gospel, no frills, no gimmicks, no additives or preservatives. It’s breaking down the Gospel for its own truth and building from there.”

Levi met his pastor, Jeremy Boreing, a few years back but didn’t establish a strong connection until they connected at the Bible study a couple years later.

“We all engaged in a spirited conversation at a Bible study, over a message about Galatians,” Boreing says. “We all enjoyed the dialogue and it was a transition where I became a teacher at that Bible study and we developed into a home church. We became good friends, and wanted to work together both spiritually and creatively.”

Boreing and Levi wrote a TV series pilot together and, with their friend Joel Moore, produced a feature called Spiral in 2005 starring Levi and Amber Tamblyn (Joan of Arcadia). They also started a production company called Coattails Entertainment, developing other features and short films.

“We spend a lot of time talking about the first-century Church, and that it’s just another way of being intimate and familial, and those are really appealing aspects of it,” Boreing says. “Our whole thing is feeling trust in God. That’s why Zac has success walking the line as a believer in a largely secular setting. He’s not creating division between himself and other people; he just rests comfortably in who he is and in his faith, and trusts God with the rest.”

So what does it mean for Levi to live out that faith on-set and around his non-Christian co-workers? For Levi, actions speak louder than words. He admits it’s not always black and white, but the key is to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit in whatever you say and do.

“If you’re someone who puts their faith in Jesus, then trust Him in being led,” Levi says. “To me, it’s not rocket science. Go about your day putting your faith in God and standing on truth. It’s pretty easy: are you a jerk or not? Are you doing things to benefit you, or others? Are you available to be part of the solution and not the problem? Walk in love and that opens some doors of dialogue. How about just starting to talk and see where it goes? I don’t think there’s any clock on it—your life is God’s, so let Him do as He wills with it.”

Cover of January/February 2010 issue of RELEVANT
Chuck had its two-hour season premiere last night (check it out on Hulu if you missed it) and has an all new episode tonight on NBC at 8/7 central. This article is an excerpt from a longer article that appears in the new issue of RELEVANT; click here to view the whole article. And click here to subscribe

41 Comments

bgrace88

34

bgrace88 commented…

You can depict sin without committing it. If my brother has to turn his eyes away because women on the show are scantily clad, there's a problem there. If we all have to fast forward (thank you, DVR) because of a sex scene, that's a problem. You can depict sexiness, you can let us know that people are sleeping together, without actually showing us something wrong.

That's what frustrates me about the show. The sex is unnecessary. We know Chuck and Sarah are sleeping together because they live together. They could give the dialog while doing anything else, but the show's writer choose to have them do it in bed.

I understand why Kathleen is concerned about him being a Christian on that show, because there IS a higher standard for Christians. We know the truth. We're called to practice it. It's not always the most fun, but we have a higher calling.

84,032

HOPE&FAITH 101 commented…

i watched chuck for the first time in Portugal and my kids 14 and 10 were ecstatic about finding the episodes in canada. the answer you are looking for is not in the implied nudity or the implied unmarital sex . You have looked for the answers in the wrong place .
to ZAC LEVI congrats because we all love your show and bought all seasons available and are checking out for the fourth one.It is very good that people learn that not because you are a person on tv you are not able to have a faith. there are a lot of people that will still like to be hypochrital about their faith .

ZACH LEVY IS FOLLOWING HIS FAITH IN CHRIST
MY KIDS KNOW THAT THE STORIES ABOUT THE LIVES IN THE SHOW ARE NOT PORTRAING A CHURCH GOING HYPOCHRITE BUT A CHRISTIAN WITH A JOB THAT FACES LIFE DESICIONS AND ALONG THE WAY. HE MAKES MY KIDS THINK ABOUT WHAT HE DID RIGHT OR WRONG AS A "CHARACTER".
ZAC-YOU'RE AWESOME AT BOTH!!

TO KATHLEEN- WHAT YOU TAKE FROM THE SHOW IS COMPLETELY UP TO YOU- JUST KNOW THAT PEOPLE SEE WHAT THEY WANT TO SEEE...

84,032

Sintiaakacyndi commented…

Sorry but as someone who lives within the vicinity of him; I find it extremely difficult to believe he is practicing as a Christian or spiritual person. I have on numerous occasions (at least 3-4 times) a week been kept up at night by partying from his home. Not the "we're reading the bible and discussing great spiritual topics" but full on keggers and drunken stupors throughout the week.

John Ian Medina Polidario

1

John Ian Medina Polidario commented…

Among all Hollywood celebrities, Zac is the only one i became a fan of for years. I was pleasantly suprised when i found out of his faith just recently.
He holds a big responsibility (because of his fame) to keep his life as a witness for God. It is impossible to keep that 'reputation' without God's help, therefore I know that his faith in God is serious otherwise he wouldnt even mention about it in the first place.
Maybe there are some mistakes here and there, but I believe that what matters most is to come back to God!
God bless you Zac!

John Fitz

1

John Fitz commented…

I watched the first episode of "chuck" 5 weeks ago and finished the last episode a week ago. I could not stop thinking about the character that Zack portrayed and how he handles his situations. I am a in love with my savior Jesus Christ and daily want to be more and more like him. I however have a storange addiction to Netflix and video games! They take most of the time I should be spending in the word. However when you watch enough of the telivision shows now days you can see the tipical protagonist in every series. Even though chuck may have been fallowing scripts from a non christian director, there was something special about Zac. I have been reading every bio and article about every play, musical, movie and show he is in I could find on him. I have a new found respect for Zac Levi and now have added him to my roll model list! I would share on of my favorite scriptures Romans 12:2 "and do not be conformed to this world but be transformed to thenrenewing of your mind That you may prove what is that good and ecceptable And perfect will of God." it is important to never loose conviction in your faith. I dream of some how meeting or talking to Zac some day!

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