Eugene Levy born
Whether it's as Jim's dad in the American Pie movies, Max Yasgur in Ang Lee's Taking Woodstock or the dastardly Walter Kornbluth, one of the scientists out to nab Daryl Hannah in Splash, Eugene Levy - who was born in Hamilton, Ontario, on this day in 1946 - has become instantly recognizable to movie audiences. Levy is one of those comic actors whose name may not instantly click with film lovers, but who over the years has created a very distinctive on screen look (greying curly hair, black glasses, thick eyebrows) and comic persona. Levy cut his teeth as a comedian working as part of the Canadian Second City Toronto troupe and on the TV show SCTV, and throughout the 80s and 90s worked as an often marginalized second string comedy actor. But in the latter part of the 90s, his career got an unexpected shot in the arm with the success of American Pie, in which Levy was a standout as the hapless, sexually inexperienced hero's well-meaning father. And around the same time, he got a boost by becoming part of Christopher Guest's creative collective, writing for and appearing in Guest's films Waiting for Guffman (1996), Best in Show (2000), A Mighty Wind (2003) and For Your Consideration (2006). It seems fitting that, after many years of building his career slowly, Levy - who often plays unusually upbeat characters - is having his time in the spotlight finally. Maybe his positivity is the thing that made the difference: "I can't do comedy that is cutting and vicious," Levy once said. "If I knew I'd said something that was going to make someone feel bad, well, that supersedes everything."