Eugene Levy was so determined to keep his kids away from showbiz that he moved countries. Yet somehow, the family ended up starring in a sitcom together that’s just scooped the pool at the Emmys.
The Canadian actor’s career in American comedy movies was starting to take off when he and his wife, Deborah Divine, were starting a family. Eugene and Deborah made the decision to leave Los Angeles behind and bring up their kids in Toronto.
“He made a very conscious effort to keep my sister and I and our family in Toronto so as to avoid the Hollywood life,” his son Dan recently told Variety. “In retrospect, being in this industry and knowing how valuable it is to be in Los Angeles, I realise even more what kind of sacrifice he made professionally in order to protect my family from being exposed to an industry that he really wanted to keep separate.
“Family was always first. He’s never been hungry for fame.”
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Dan was born in 1983 and Sarah in 1986. Eugene racked up a string of movie credits: Splash, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Waiting For Guffman, American Pie. His co-stars loved him. Jason Biggs, who played his son in American Pie, says Eugene taught him “so much about comedy, about life”.
“I was a kid but he had so much respect for me,” he remembers.
But Eugene rarely talked about his work at home, only bringing out his comedy characters when he felt it would help.
“It was usually when we were fighting when I was a teenager,” Dan says. “He would use it to kind of neutralise any kind of teenage anger I might have. It’s very hard to stay mad at someone who is putting on voices and getting into characters.”
In fact, Dan told Vogue that he didn’t realise his dad was famous till American Pie came out.