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Zachary Levi Reflects on the Grace and Plans of God

Photo from Zachary Levi’s Instagram

Zachary Levi Reflects on the Grace and Plans of God

By Movieguide® Contributor 

Actor Zachary Levi, known for SHAZAM! and AMERICAN UNDERDOG, is using his platform to promote mental health—sharing his own personal struggles with fans. 

Reflecting on his childhood, Levi said that he didn’t realize at the time that he was “living a traumatized life.”

“Looking back on it, I can assure you it was an incredibly traumatizing childhood,” the actor explained. “There was just lots and lots of unhealthy, toxic behavior that was going on. Again, I could tell you that there were things that were making me cry on a regular basis. And things that I was afraid of on a regular basis. But I didn’t necessarily see those as being anything but normal. I guess this is probably what other kids deal with as well. So that would be a snapshot into my life, I suppose.”

Early on in his childhood, Levi figured out that making people laugh was something he enjoyed and could do well. 

“Fortunately – and this is the grace of God. Not just the grace of God, but the plans of God,” Levi said. “I figured out very early on in life, probably around four when I figured out that I could make someone laugh intentionally. Every kid makes people laugh accidentally. You don’t know why. Around four, I was smart enough to go, ‘I can do this thing, I could do X or Y and that would make somebody laugh’ … and I also knew that a laughing, smiling person feels good.”        

“And I never wanted to stop doing that,” he continued. “And I was immediately called to, addicted to… not realizing that because I was lost in this world of trying to find identity and value and worth, and all of that jazz – that I was both fulfilling a calling in my life, but also figuring out very quickly how to run away from metabolizing my pain… be the guy, bring the happy, bring the joy.”

Levi went on to find success as an actor, starring in the sitcom CHUCK and movies like TANGLED and THOR: THE DARK WORLD, but his old feelings of insecurity came back. 

“I felt like I was failing,” he said. “Ultimately, like most of my life, I felt like a failure. Even though from the outside it looked like I was very much succeeding, but I am not succeeding on the level that I am supposed to or that I was called to.”

Amid all this, Levi decided to pick up and leave Hollywood and move to Austin, Texas. 

“I didn’t know anyone out there, and all of a sudden after 15 years of living in Los Angeles, having community and support structure, I was now alone,” Levi recalled. “I have blown up my life. I have now entirely failed. There is no coming back from this failure. I would say if suicide was climbing a ten-rung ladder, I was at rung nine. “

“Thankfully, I have family that surrounded me and supported me, were there for me, just enough for me to get up and go to therapy, life-saving therapy,” the actor continued. “It was a perfect storm. It was 37 years of lots and lots of trauma, unhealed trauma. A real testament of how I think God works, and what we ought to prioritize…. I didn’t understand that. So to go away and do this therapy, finally, and figure out I haven’t loved myself my entire life. And oh, this feeling that I have inside? That’s anxiety. I am glad I finally know what anxiety is.”

The therapy led to peace of mind for Levi — and a big role. 

“SHAZAM!  literally happened while I was finishing up my therapy,” Levi explained. “But only because God was like, ‘Good now that you have done the thing, now I can give you the blessing. You would have self-destructed had I given you this blessing before you did the work.’ And that’s the work.”