Sheri Block, CTV.ca
When Dan Levy heard he was being considered for a part in the new Degrassi movie, he assumed his role would be relatively small.
With no formal acting experience, you can only imagine the shock the MTV host felt when he was instead offered a major role as a hotshot Hollywood producer.
“They came to me and offered the part … I was very flattered they had such confidence, but I read the script and the part was not the ‘glorified extra’ that I thought I would be,” says Levy with a laugh.
“I’ve just been such a fan of the show from the very beginning that I thought it was a no brainer, (even if) I had to go to ‘memorizing school’ to get this done.”
In “Paradise City: Degrassi Goes Hollywood,” which airs Sunday night at 8 pm ET on CTV, Levy plays the producer of Jason Mewes’ ‘Mewesical High’ and the one who casts Lauren Collins (Paige) in the movie’s lead role.
Even though Levy, who co-hosts MTV’s “After Show” with Jessi Cruickshank, is in front of the camera all the time, he says he had a lot to learn.
“Being in live TV, it’s almost a completely opposite discipline in a sense that we have the freedom to say and do whatever we want … It’s a completely different skill to memorize the lines and hit the marks and to get the cues and the first day I was like, ‘Whoa, this is very different.'”
Surprisingly enough, Levy says while he enjoyed drama in high school, he felt oddly insecure when he got to university and opted out of taking theatre because he didn’t want to audition in front of other people. He studied film instead and played a few small roles in his friends’ movies. But he says it didn’t quite prepare him for this.
“I was pretty fresh when I got on the set of Degrassi,” says Levy, who admits it made him a tad nostalgic for that side of the business. “It’s true to what people say in terms of there’s a magic to movie making, there’s something really fun and exciting being on a set and playing a part and being involved in that whole process.”
Levy looked to Degrassi’s veteran actors, many of whom he had previously met and interviewed on the “After Show.” He says he wouldn’t have gotten through it without them.
“I just naturally had a lot of questions and all of my scenes were with Lauren so she ended up being the go to when it came to, ‘What do I do? Where do I go?’ … and every day she was so helpful and so willing to just be around in case I needed any help or support.”
But ironically, the one person Levy didn’t consult for advice was his dad – acting veteran Eugene Levy.
“I didn’t, no, which is sort of weird because you would think that would be sort of a go to thing … It’s not that I didn’t want to go in blind, because I didn’t, I had been on film sets before and I’ve sort of grown up around the movie making process, but I think I sort of wanted to learn it on my own, in the sense that I wanted that first experience to be something that was untouched,” says Levy.
Levy says his dad is very supportive and is sure he’ll get a “very enthusiastic thumbs up” from him once he sees the movie.
And with such an impressive acting debut, does this mean Levy has any plans to follow in his famous dad’s footsteps?
“You know what? I had a blast,” says Levy, who adds he would consider doing more roles in the future. “It’s a change of pace from what I do every day and I love what I do every day but it was nice to experience something totally different.”
A behind the scenes look at Levy’s acting debut will also be featured on “The After Show” Wednesday at 7:30pm et and 11:30pm et/pt on MTV.