Zachary Levi has gone from Chuck to Chipmunk.
The 29-year old actor who plays the titular electronics store clerk-turned-spy in TV’s Chuck is honored to become guardian of the world’s most famous rock ’n’ roll rodents in next week’s release, Alvin & the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel.
“I was about eight when I was watching them in the Eighties,” said Levi of the decades-old characters during a recent interview in Los Angeles. “And no matter how they’ve changed in their look and their medium — crude animation in the ’80s to now — they’re still the same guys. Kids will love them.”
And children have definitely loved Alvin & The Chipmunks ever since they made their debut on a Minneapolis radio station singing The Chipmunk Song back in 1958. Further, their popularity has only spread as evidenced by the popularity of their 2007 full-length film debut, which earned over $350 million globally.
“Look, there’s nothing cuter than a couple of chipmunks singing songs,” explained Levi. “(Producers) Ross (Bagdasarian) and Janice (Karman) have taken that torch and maintained the innocence and the purity and the heart that the Chipmunks have always had. That’s what I think keeps people with it.”
In the latest cinematic installment of the franchise, Levi is entrusted to the singing trio when their proper guardian Dave (Jason Lee) is hospitalized at the expense of Alvin’s wild on-stage antics. Ordered to send the chipmunks to school, Levi’s bumbling Toby finds the miniature munks a handful — especially once they become smitten with their furry female counterparts, the Chipettes.
“It is (a little freaky) but it’s so cool,” said Levi of the Chipettes’ high-pitched versions of contemporary pop songs. “(The producers) always make it relevant to wherever they need to be. They did that in the ’50s; they do it now so it’s cool.”
While Levi added the cover of hit single Hot N Cold may have stood out, it was a variation of another Katy Perry song that the jokester would’ve preferred to hear.
“I was surprised they didn’t have I Kissed a Squirrel (And I Liked It), but whatever, I wasn’t in charge of the music.”