Q & A With 'The Man' Star Eugene Levy

In a career spanning 35 years, Canadian character actor Eugene Levy (search) has become a familiar face in comedy -- especially those bushy eyebrows of his.

From groundbreaking work in the legendary SCTV comedy troupe to classics like "Vacation," "Splash," the "American Pie" franchise and "A Mighty Wind," the 58-year-old Levy has become the go-to guy for side laughs.

His mismatched-buddy flick, "The Man," (search) opens this weekend with Levy opposite Samuel L. Jackson (search). It's a full co-star billing this time around for Levy, who plays bellyaching dental-supply salesman Andy Fidler against Jackson's tough-guy federal agent.

The Post caught up with Levy last week at his home in Toronto.

Q: So, how many times have you watched "Vacation"?

A: I can't honestly say I've sat down and watched any movie I've been in. If I didn't have to go to the premiere, I don't think I'd see any of them. Everything I look at, I think, boy I could've done that better.

Q: Here's a game. I'll name five of your movies. Tell me the name of your character and you get 10 points. For 10 more, give me your funniest line of dialogue. OK, "Splash."

A: "Splash" was Kornbluth. Walter Kornbluth. "What a week I'm having."

Q: Sorry. The correct answer is, "Behold the mermaid!"

A: No. "What a week I'm having" got a much bigger laugh.

Q: Fine. How about "Vacation"?

A: I was credited as Car Salesman.

Q: I'm pretty sure Clark Griswold called you Ed.

A: Come on. I get a point there.

Q: Ten, actually.

A: OK, and a line ... it's been so long. I can't ...

Q:I can accept anything Family Truckster related. Come on. Metallic pea? Nothing?

A: Sorry.

Q: "Club Paradise."

A: Barry Steinberg.

Q: OK, this is my favorite quote of all time. It's right after that hunk guy does a perfect dive into the lagoon.

A: Oh, "I could've done the same dive if I didn't have this damn diarrhea."

Q: Totally awesome. "American Pie."

A: Jim's Dad. You know, he was like The Man With No Name. Just Jim's Dad. And a line, oh, "It looks like some tropical plant."

Q: Is that even funny?

A: I don't know. Something in the hallway? With the pie, I guess.

Q: Let's move on. "A Mighty Wind."

A: I'm Mitch Cohen and ...

Q: Think of the guy with the "train set."

A: Oh, right. The town of Crabville. "I would've used more deciduous trees."

Q: I had, "I would love to see Crabville in the autumn." But I'll give it to you.

A:How'd I do?

Q: I don't know. I just wanted to hear that diarrhea line. You definitely passed, though. (He got an 80).

A: Excellent.

Q: How was working on "The Man" different than past films?

A: Well, for a change, I had no off days. That's the big difference between having a co-starring role and a support role. On "American Pie" I was done in four days.

Q: What did you and Samuel Jackson talk about between takes?

A: We spent a lot of time in the car. We'd chit-chat, play trivia games.

Q: What, like movie trivia?

A: Sort of. We'd list every TV Western that was on up until the early '60s. We came up with about 60. Sometimes we'd sing the theme song.

Q: You've co-written three mocKumentary films with Christopher Guest ("Waiting for Guffman," "Best in Show" and "A Mighty Wind").

A: Stuff I do with Chris is a great creative release. We get to write it, film it, edit and nobody interferes.

Q: Do you consider yourself a comedian?

A: I'm not a comedian. I don't do stand-up. I don't tell jokes. I'm a comedic actor, and approach my work that way. The comedy comes through the character.

Q: You were part of the legendary SCTV troupe, along with guys like John Candy and Martin Short. Has that show ever really gotten its due?

A: For that genre in TV, classified as sketch comedy, I don't think there's a show that can touch it. It's the most fun any of us have had.

Q: You read for the role of Toby Ziegler on "The West Wing"?

A: Isn't that something? At call back, there were only two guys up -- me and Richard Schiff.

Q: How would that have changed your career?

A:I wouldn't have been able to do "Waiting for Guffman." I just look back and think it could've opened up an entire dramatic avenue. Either that, or I would have been fired in the first month.

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