Eugene Levy Eugene Levy
Eugene Levy: action hero? Uh, not quite. Although the SCTV vet — best known for the American Pie movies as well as being one of

Christopher Guest's go-to guys — does a little running and a bit of jumping in the new action-comedy The Man, he has since decided to leave such heroics to pros such as costar Samuel L. Jackson.

"I've never been a physical kind of comedian," Levy acknowledges. "All of the physical stuff [in The Man] I tried to make look fairly credible, and give it a bit of a comic spin — if you're running down the alley and getting shot in the ass, you don't want to make it too painful for the audience. It's not what I do, but I did it and I was professional about it."

And how. One scene in The Man shows Levy (and yes, it is him) hitting the hood of a car and hard. "It seems easy enough — they gave me something to bounce off of, onto the car — but when you're not a professional stuntman, you... bruise," he dryly notes. "I knew it would be good if I could do it myself and make it look good, but all of that running and dropping and falling.... I think I've pretty much done my 'action movie.' Let's do some drawing-room comedy."

In signing on to do (and be) The Man, Levy, who's quite content making people laugh, wasn't looking to check off some long-ignored genre on his career to-do list. "I never looked at this script as an action movie; I saw it as a movie with two characters who spend a lot of time kind of having an effect on one another," he says. "That was the strong point."

That, and having a pro like Jackson at his side. "Sometimes when people come in from the world of drama to a comedy, they feel a pressure to 'step up the funny,' so it was refreshing to see that Sam's instincts were dead-on — play the character, play the story and let the comedy happen, which is my philosophy on how to do a comedy."

Rest assured, Levy has many more big-screen laffers in his future. Currently he is working on another Guest project: For Your Consideration, a send-up of independent filmmaking and awards-season buzz (in which he will again be joined by Fred Willard, Catherine O'Hara, Bob Balaban, Michael McKean, Parker Posey et al.). As for reprising "Jim's Dad," his doting and doddering role in the American Pie movies, he has yet to hear of any plans for another go-round, but is open to another slice. After all, points out, there's comedy to be mined (and diapers to be misused and abused) when Jim and Michelle (who tied the knot in 2003's American Wedding) produce that first grandkid.

"If they go there, I will come," he tells us. "That was a great series; I loved every one of them and loved the characters, so I would have no qualms about doing another one."