Zachary Levi defied traditional panel decorum bypassing a moderator and standing during his hourlong chat with fans and, in the process, hosted the most engaging, insightful, and motivating panel at Motor City Comic Con 2024.

Running out with the energy of a puppy, Levi immediately gave shout-outs to the ASL interpreter signing for him and to all of those in attendance. And the praise didn’t end there. The popular actor asked attendees to turn to their neighbors to tell them they’re amazing. He handed out love like they were Tic Tacs. And he genuinely cared about each and every person in the room. It was like going to church, perhaps fitting that Levi’s panel occurred on Sunday, the last day of the convention.

Made famous for his role in the underrated but beloved NBC series Chuck, attendees’ adoration was equally split between Chuck, his role as Flynn Rider in Disney’s Tangled, his superhero role as Shazam, with some even there for his most recent turn as Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Whichever role people were there for, they left knowing they are loved and they are not alone despite any challenges they encounter in their lives.

Besides his success onscreen and on the stage (Levi received a Tony nomination for his work in She Loves Me), Levi is also the author of the acclaimed book Radical Love: Learning to Accept Yourself. As he shared, approximately six years ago, Levi had a mental breakdown that resulted in him checking into an in-treatment center. Having long suffered from anxiety and depression, Levi opened up to the crowd about his struggles and through years of therapy, looked to use what he learned to help others at MCCC to see that they’re not alone. At one point, Levi asked people to raise their hands if they suffered from stress, then depression, and finally anxiety. Hands arose throughout the packed room and the actor reminded people that they are not alone and that “we’re all going through the same stuff.”

Levi answered every single question asked of him – everything from community theater to his various roles to his stance on mental health. Not all were immediately answered as Levi could get sidetracked (or as he called himself, “verbose and tangential”), but eventually, he found his way to the answer. Answers to somewhat simple questions turned into pleas about being mindful of AI and where it’s going and the greed of high-level executives and companies yet with such an impactful delivery, everyone was tuned in to every word he said.

A Chuck re-watch podcast with former co-star Joshua Gomez is next on the actor’s list with dreams of turning the listeners into data that gets Warner Brothers to greenlight a Chuck movie. Beyond that, Levi doesn’t want to “make things to make thing.”

As Levi stated, he “loves people, loves loving people, and loves joy.” Numerous times he shouted to “love yourself.” One thing was certain at the end of his panel: people left loving Levi a bit more than before the day began.

Movie Reelist Contributor: Mark Eaton
Mark is an entertainment junkie, spending much of his leisure time watching movies, TV, or listening to any and all genres of music. Most evenings, after finishing a day of work and hanging with his wife and kids, Mark can be found in an eternal battle with his DVR, trying to clear it before another 5-6 hours of shows are recorded the next day. Still reeling from his unpaid gig for the Detroit News where he was fired for being too cruel with his American Idol recaps, Mark is thrilled to be sharing his wicked sense of humor with Movie Reelists.

Leave a comment...