Chuck and Shazam! star Zachary Levi voices an adorable animated teddy bear, named Teddy, in the Christmas movie Teddy's Christmas.
The Norwegian film from director Andrea Eckerbom tells the story of eight-year-old girl Mariann (Marte Klerck-Nilssen), who sees this cute teddy bear on the shelf of a carnival booth at a Christmas market. But in a moment, the bear moves and Mariann doesn't end up winning this stuffed toy as her prize. When the bear goes to someone else, Mariann and her brother want to try to find Teddy.
Teddy ends up meeting a hedgehog toy Bolla (Lene Kongsvik Johansen) and Teddy's new friend helps him understand the true meaning of love and friendship, and power of cuddling.
For Levi, voicing the English version of a pre-existing character introduced a unique set of challenges for actor, who's voiced characters in several animated films, including Tangled, The Star and the upcoming Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.
"I'm pretty sure it's the first time I've ever done a proper, full dub," Levi told Yahoo Canada. "You're trying to stay true to a movie that's already been made, and a wonderful movie at that, and tapping into the character, but also knowing that, listen, these are the lines."
"You have to translate this, kind of word for word, essentially. There's a little bit of wiggle room in there, because you're also trying to match the mouth, ... I'm trying to match Teddy's mouth, which is also kind of a really interesting challenge in and of itself."
Thinking about what he hopes families take away from Teddy's Christmas, Levi hopes the message of "love" sticks with audiences.
"Teddy's big dilemma is that he thinks, oh this little girl, what kind of a life can she give me?" Levi explained. "Teddy's got all these big dreams, but what Teddy doesn't realize is that the most important thing is actually love. It's cuddles. It's those cuddles and those hugs, and that his purpose is to bring that love ... into the world."
"So I think that as Teddy journeys through that and as you get to spend time with that really wonderful family, and this wonderful little girl, ... all of these things, I think, paint a really wonderful, familial, loving picture."
'My goal is to somehow figure out how to make the Mariah Carey of movies'
In terms of what made Levi interested in voicing Teddy, the actor highlighted that he has three nephews and he's been "uncle Zach" to his friends kids for many years, which influenced the appeal of this family-friendly holiday tale.
"I mean, who doesn't love a good teddy bear story?" Levi said. "It's a teddy bear story. It's a Christmas story. It's something that my nephews and my honourary nieces and nephews for many years can watch."
"[Second,] European Christmas, ... up in the Scandinavian countries and England, ... maybe just because the countries are older, but there's something that just feels even more Christmas-y."
Additionally, a unique part of holiday movies is that it's a genre of films that people go back to every year, with different movies becoming part of family holiday traditions for years.
"My goal is to somehow figure out how to make the Mariah Carey of movies," Levi said. "Anything that's in the holidays that people really gravitate towards, that's good and successful, has the opportunity to play year after year, after year after year, because it's a part of that ethos. It's a part of that time of the year."
Revealing his family's personal holiday traditions, Levi highlighted things many of us do, including sitting around with our family, taking some time to slow down and maybe not even changing out of our pajamas. Eating lots of food, watching sports and paying video games. But Levi's gift to his family every year is a trip to Disneyland.
"My whole immediate family, both my sisters, their husbands, their kids, my cousin and her husband, and sometimes some aunts and uncles, and my dad before he passed, we go to Disneyland every year," Levi said. "That's actually my Christmas present to the family."
"It makes it a lot easier for me and I don't have to go running around trying to find individual presents, I just say, 'Hey, I'll take care of the tickets and the guide,' and that's everybody's Christmas present. ... [For] decades probably now, we go to Disneyland around Christmas and it's a really special time."
Zachary Levi on moving away from Chuck-type roles
From Christmas movies to action-comedy films and TV shows, and animated features, Levi's proven his range as an actor, taking on roles in a variety of different projects.
"It's actually one of my top prerequisites," Levi said. "Not that I get it every time, sometimes I play roles that are closer to a previous role, ... [but] I want to keep playing roles that challenge me, but that also challenge people's perceptions of me and what I'm capable of doing."
"If I just played a Chuck-type of role my whole career, which by the way, some people wanted me to do. After Chuck finished I got so many offers and they were all to play basically the same kind of guy and I was like, I can't do this. I can't do this to myself. I can't do this to audiences, because I want them to be challenged in this. I want them to go 'Oh, wow, look he does the Chuck thing, but he also does X or Y or Z.'"
Teddy's Christmas is in theatres Dec. 1