41-year-old Zachary Levi has had an accomplished acting career with roles in projects like Chuck, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, American Underdog, The Mauritanian, and the upcoming Shazam! Fury of the Gods. In the Disney community, however, Levi is best known for his role as Flynn Rider in Tangled (2010).
Now, Levi has opened up to Elizabeth Vargas on the Heart of the Matter podcast about his “lifelong” struggles with mental health and addiction.
Vargas praised Levi for being “amazingly honest” about his issues — The Hollywood Reporter recently shared some poignant excerpts from the actor’s appearance, including insight into his troubled childhood:
“I’ve struggled with this stuff most of my life. I didn’t realize that I was struggling with these things until I was 37, about five years ago and I had a complete mental breakdown,” Levi explained before revealing his struggles began in his youth while growing up in a complicated household. “The majority of my life, I grew up in a household where my stepfather was a perfectionist on the highest of levels, his bar was so high, was impossible to reach, and then a mother who was a borderline personality. So, she didn’t have an impossibly high bar. She had an impossible target because it kept moving.”
Levi went on to discuss how, at age 37, he suffered a “complete mental breakdown” that left him in “a situation so urgent that he sought treatment for three weeks after being overcome by thoughts of suicide.”
Levi shared that he turned to sex, drugs, and alcohol as a coping mechanism for years until a “dear friend” urged him to seek professional help, a decision which ultimately led to his “life-changing, life-saving” three weeks of intensive therapy.
THR also shared details about how the Disney leading man was affected by the suicides of chef Anthony Bourdain, fellow actor Robin Williams, and fashion designer Kate Spade:
Of Williams, Levi said, “Robin, he was a hero of mine. His talent, his heart, the way he loved people, the way that he loved the homeless, the way that he cared about them, he was a really, truly, deeply empathetic person who really cared about other human beings, and yet was so tortured in his own mind. I think that’s maybe partly why he felt so obligated to bring joy into the world. I felt very, very akin to that.”
Levi went on to share that he has learned to live healthily with his mental health struggles, though they will never completely go away. He shared with Vargas:
…[he] is able to manage by a healthy routine with a focus on good diet, exercise and sleep habits. “Prayer and meditation are very important, which are also somewhat synonymous, I think, in some ways. Sometimes my prayer is meditation. Sometimes I’m just there and allowing God to take over what that time is. I’m not really saying anything as much as I’m just spending time. I think one of the most important things…”
The podcast is meant to bring awareness to the Partnership to End Addiction. Levi’s full interview will be available on June 28, 2022.
As for Levi’s future with Walt Disney Animation Studios, Tangled fans have long called for a sequel to the hit movie, which stars Mandy Moore as the voice of Rapunzel.
While Disney has not confirmed that Tangled 2 is in the works, they have shown their willingness to make sequels many years later — The Incredibles 2 (2018), for example, released 14 years after the first Pixar Animation Studios movie.
More on Tangled
The official description of Disney’s adaptation of the classic Rapunzel fairytale reads:
When the kingdom’s most wanted, and most charming, bandit Flynn Rider hides in a mysterious tower, the last thing he expects to find is Rapunzel, a spirited teen with an unlikely superpower: 70 feet of magical golden hair! Together, the unlikely duo sets off on a fantastic journey filled with surprising heroes, laughter and suspense.
The cast includes Zachary Levi, Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Richard Kiel, Jeffrey Tambor, Mandy Moore, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins, Donna Murphy.
Are you surprised to learn about Zachary Levi’s mental health struggles throughout his life?