Zachary Levi: “I’ve had casting directors call my agent and say, ‘Yeah, you know—he’s a little too Jewish”

zachary-leviWith a name like Levi, it’s a no brainer that people will assume you’re Jewish.  So, it does come as a surprise when Zachary Levi admits he’s not Jewish—he just changed his name once he became an actor.

Levi was born with the last name Pugh, which agents suggested he change.  “I’d made a rule that I wouldn’t change or bend for Hollywood,” Levi explained in an interview with The New York Post.  “So I prayed about it long and hard.”

After deciding to drop Pugh, Levi became well-known for his role on the now-cancelled TV show Chuck.  Ironically, Levi has actually lost roles because of his assumed Jewish heritage.

“I’ve had casting directors call my agent and say, ‘Yeah, you know—he’s a little too Jewish.’”

No matter what his religion, Levi is still landing prime roles—like the part of Fandral in next November’s Thor sequel.


  1. Talya

    August 9, 2013 at 9:10 am

    Good for him. No one should change who they are. Hollywood puts too high standards on some actors and some of them get so caught up in changing who they really are that they become something that they are not and start to depend on it.

  2. Steve

    November 8, 2013 at 4:54 am

    Those casting directors sound racist to me, especially since there are so many young, attractive, Jewish actors out there.

    For future reference:
    Actors of fully Jewish background: -Logan Lerman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Mila Kunis, Natalie Portman, Bar Refaeli, James Wolk, Julian Morris, Esti Ginzburg, Kat Dennings, Erin Heatherton, Odeya Rush, Anton Yelchin, Paul Rudd, Scott Mechlowicz, Andrew Garfield, Lizzy Caplan, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gal Gadot, Robert Kazinsky, Melanie Laurent, Marla Sokoloff, Shiri Appleby, Justin Bartha, Adam Brody, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Gabriel Macht.

    Actors with Jewish mothers and non-Jewish fathers -Jake Gyllenhaal, James Franco, Scarlett Johansson, Daniel Radcliffe, Alison Brie, Eva Green, Emmy Rossum, Jennifer Connelly, Eric Dane, Jeremy Jordan.

    Actors with Jewish fathers and non-Jewish mothers, who themselves were either raised as Jews and/or identify as Jews: -Ezra Miller, Alexa Davalos, Nat Wolff, James Maslow, Josh Bowman, Ben Foster, Nikki Reed, Ansel Elgort.

    Actors with one Jewish-born parent and one parent who converted to Judaism -Dianna Agron, Sara Paxton (whose father converted, not her mother), Alicia Silverstone, Jamie-Lynn Sigler.

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