- Share this article on Facebook
- Share this article on Twitter
- Share this article on Email
- Show additional share options
- Share this article on Print
- Share this article on Comment
- Share this article on Whatsapp
- Share this article on Linkedin
- Share this article on Reddit
- Share this article on Pinit
- Share this article on Tumblr
Shawn Levy is busy. His Ryan Reynolds starrer Free Guy just debuted at No. 1; Netflix, where he and his 21 Laps have 15 projects in active development, announced this month that season four of global phenomenon Stranger Things will premiere in 2022; and he’s prepping a stage version of Night at the Museum, to name but a few of the things on his plate.
But Shawn Levy doesn’t need a reminder of how busy Shawn Levy is because every time the prolific 53-yer-old director-producer named Shawn Levy debuts a project, the 59-year-old Portland-based journalist-turned-author named Shawn Levy finds out when he checks his email. Thanks to an identical name (their middle names both start with A) and a generic email address, Portland’s Levy has been fielding thousands of messages meant for the other guy. You name it, he’s got it — résumés, audition tapes, voice memos, fan letters, desperate pleas to meet Millie Bobby Brown, marketing campaign pitches and even an apology from a relative for not replying sooner to a Hanukkah card (“She was very snippy, too,” he says).
“I literally get emails every day of my life for him,” Portland’s Levy tells The Hollywood Reporter. “I can track when a new season of Stranger Things goes around the world because I start getting emails from territories as it debuts. Kids in India, Brazil, Italy and Mexico send emails asking if they can be in the next season, or they pitch story ideas. Today I got one from an adult asking if Shawn remembered him from when he delivered supplies from Office Depot.”
One surprisingly sweet thing about the situation is how much pride Portland’s Levy has for his Hollywood counterpart. “He had an incredible streak of films that opened at No. 1 — hit after hit,” he explains of Levy’s success with films that have collectively grossed more than $2 billion. “If someone asked you who had that many consecutive No. 1s, you might think Spielberg or Scorsese, but it’s not — it’s Shawn Levy.”
Portland’s Shawn Levy is no slouch. He served as film critic for The Oregonian for a stint and has published around a dozen books including biographies of Paul Newman, Jerry Lewis and Robert De Niro as well as Rat Pack Confidential and The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art and Scandal at Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont. He has two new tomes on the horizon. One is titled In on the Joke: The Original Queens of Stand-Up Comedy from Doubleday, and the second is a book of poems. He’s pairing the latter with a chapbook filled with 30-40 of the best emails he’s fielded for the other Levy.
“I’ve saved hundreds,” he said. “I used to delete them all but now I save them in a folder that has close to 600 from all over the world. It speaks to the reach of Netflix.” And it speaks to Portland’s Levy’s patience that he can sift through all the correspondence. “It would slow his day to a crawl,” he said of the volume. “I know people are usually paid to delete this stuff. It’s amazing to think about the echoes of fame.”
But don’t get any ideas. Even if you do want to reach the Free Guy filmmaker and you happen to send an email, Portland’s Levy says this is his standard reply: “I’m sorry, I’m not the filmmaker Shawn Levy and I don’t know how to reach him.”
A version of this story first appeared in the Aug. 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
Sign up for THR news straight to your inbox every day