Off Script: How Zachary Levi Stays Good-Hearted for Broadway's 'She Loves Me'
"I say a prayer and try to get into a headspace where I’m thankful that this is my job and my life," the Tony nominee tells THR. Afterward, "it’s whiskey and pizza and fries. I’ll just be gorging at a nearby pub."
Zachary Levi received his first Tony nomination for playing the headstrong yet heartwarming Georg in Scott Ellis’ revival of the beloved musical comedy She Loves Me, about quarreling 1930s perfume-counter clerks unaware that they are each other's anonymous romantic pen pals. The Hollywood Reporter’s review says the Chuck and Tangled star “projects throwback charm with winning confidence” opposite fellow nominees Laura Benanti and Jane Krakowski, and “his Georg seems suave and handsome at times, disarmingly nebbishy at others, and the actor uses his considerable height to great comedic advantage in songs like ‘Tonight at Eight.’”
Levi, 35, goes Off Script to talk playing a good-hearted guy on Broadway, “gorging” after the show and receiving a very special pair of Mickey Mouse ears.
What do you love about playing Georg?
I love his heart. There’s a goofiness and an aww-shucks quality to him, and he works hard at his job. For whatever reason, I find roles or roles find me of these good-hearted people; they want the best and they’re optimistic.
What’s your toughest scene?
From the beginning of the bedroom scene [with Benanti] through my song, “She Loves Me.” That’s a demanding song for me and I’m moving around a ton, but also, there are precious moments you gotta do right, and comedic beats you have to hit right.
What have you given up to play this role?
It’s a physically demanding job, so I gave up the gym so I’m not too exhausted for the theater.
What time do you wake up on a show day?
Noon, because I’m just amped after a show. Even though I’ve given so much physical energy to it, you just feel all that love and I’m super wired. I can’t get to bed until three in the morning, and I’ll sleep until noon. So I guess I’ve also given up mornings, although I never really loved mornings to begin with.
Laura Benanti and Zachary Levi in 'She Loves Me.' Photo credit: Joan Marcus
Do you eat dinner before or after a performance?
Both. I’m on a Paleo diet to fuel for the show, but afterward, it’s whiskey and pizza and fries. I’ll just be gorging at a nearby pub.
What’s something special in your dressing room?
[Set designer] David Rockwell gave me this miniature stained-glass Maraczek's that lights up.
Any pre-show rituals?
I say a prayer and try to get into a headspace where I’m thankful that this is my job and my life. And remember there are a thousand people who have paid good money to see us and want to be entertained, and give them everything I’ve got.
Favorite number you tune in for each show?
Nick Barasch’s “Try Me,” the first number of the second act. It’s a number with so much enthusiasm and earnestness.
What do you do when you’re not onstage during the show?
Sometimes I’m playing a little game on my phone, or if someone is coming to the show that night, I’m making sure they got in okay.
What do you do on your day off?
I’m so excited we don’t have Sunday night shows so I can watch Game of Thrones.
Favorite backstage guest?
That’s a toss-up between Kevin Costner, Joss Whedon, Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine.
Best stage door reaction so far?
Some fans gave some personalized Mickey ears that say "Georg" on the back.