Zachary Levi Dishes on Going Evil for 'Heroes Reborn': This Is 'Definitely Not' 'Chuck'

by Philiana Ng 8:29 AM PDT, July 08, 2015
Photo: Getty Images

Zachary Levi is one busy man.

With Comic-Con just around the corner, the 34-year-old former Chuck star is even busier than ever. For the fourth year in a row, he’ll be leading the charge at Nerd HQ, just one of the off-site alternatives to the main convention. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

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There’s NBC’s anticipated Heroes reboot, of which Levi headlines; Disney Channel’s animated Tangled series, in which he’ll reprise his role as Eugene/Flynn Rider; and a gig on Eva Longoria’s telenovela sitcom Hot and Bothered. Oh, and he’s also developing new projects. (Fingers crossed a Chuck reunion is on the books!)

“I feel like I’ve definitely had [moments] in my life where I’ve been busy but this is kind of bonzo. I don’t know that it’s helping!” the 34-year-old actor says with a laugh during a recent interview with ETonline. “I’ve definitely taken a whole lot [on].”

Even so, Levi embraces his busy schedule. (Levi will also be promoting Heroes Reborn, a gig he says he actively pursued, at Comic-Con.) From where he stands, things could be worse.

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“If that’s what’s happening, then that’s what’s happening,” Levi said. “As long as I’m standing and breathing, I’ll do it.”

After spending the last two years based at Petco Park, Nerd HQ moves to a brand-new location just north of the convention center, the New Children’s Museum, which will feature over 25,000 sq. feet of space on three floors for dance parties, intimate Q&As and gaming (fans can preview Star Wars: Battlefront for the first time).

“Hopefully it doesn’t change it at all – it just makes it better,” Levi said of the new home base. “We know the event well enough by this point to know a lot of the things that work and a lot that don’t work.”

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“Every year we’ve continued to strive to make it better, though not necessarily bigger, because we value the intimate feel that Nerd HQ provides and the kind of refuge [that people seek] in that type of atmosphere so they don’t feel chaos constantly surrounding them,” he added.

This year Levi has secured several Comic-Con favorites for its annual Conversations for a Cause (ticket sales benefit Operation Smile) from Nathan Fillion, Joss Whedon and Stephen Amell to Yvonne Strahovski, William Shatner and Julie Plec.

“If anything else, it’s a way to say ‘thank you,’” Levi said. “I like to foster that relationship [with the fans] and I think one of the great ways to do that is to really give them some of your time by allowing them into the conversation.”

Levi remains in awe over what he and his team have accomplished just five years in.

“One of the things about HQ that I’ve always wanted to do was bring together what I jokingly call the ‘Nerd Trifecta’ or the ‘Nerd Triple Crown’ – CES, E3 and Comic-Con – into one place,” he said. “It’s a fun way to celebrate the time that you have in San Diego over the weekend. There’s so much going on but also, you want to have fun.”

As for his Heroes Reborn role, details have been kept close to the vest. But Levi tells ETonline that his character, the mysterious Luke Collins, is a far cry from the lovable Chuck Bartowski he played on Chuck.

"When I sat down with [creator] Tim Kring, I basically told him, 'This would be really cool to do. I just want to make sure the character I'm playing is darker and grittier and dirtier,'" he said. "I want to challenge myself and challenge the perceptions that people may or may not have about myself as an actor so I'm not always pigeon-holed as 'that Chuck guy.' I loved playing Chuck, and by the way if that follows me the rest of my life, me being 'that Chuck guy,' there are worse things to follow you around with."

"But I hope to have enough breadth of work in my career that people go, 'He does this. He does that. Have you seen his turn in this or that?'" Levi continued. "And Luke Collins is definitely not Chuck. He's a very tormented person and there's a lot of deep sadness and darkness in him."

Nerd HQ kicks off Thursday and runs through Sunday.

Zachary Levi will be partnering with ET during Comic-Con! Join us on Thursday morning for a Facebook Q&A, Friday as he takes over ET's Periscope at Nerd HQ and Sunday for an Instagram takeover

Speaking of Comic-Con, find out why Marvel Studios is skipping it this year!