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How Daniel Levy Really Felt When He Joined Eugene Levy On Schitt's Creek

On paper, "Schitt's Creek" should not have become the massive hit we've all come to know and love. In America, the first three seasons of the series aired on Pop TV, a channel that a year earlier was known as TVGN (formerly TV Guide Network) best known for running repeats of soap operas and reality shows. The show was created, written, and produced by a young, largely unknown actor with little experience creating, writing, or producing television. Its premise was bizarre: an uber-rich family loses it all and is forced to live in a rundown motel.

Yet, the sixth and final season of "Schitt's Creek" became the first television show in Primetime Emmy Awards history to sweep all four acting categories, as well as the outstanding comedy series, writing, and directing categories. And that young actor with little experience? He would become the first person in Emmy history to win awards in acting, writing, directing, and producing in a single year (via IMDb). What Daniel Levy managed to accomplish is astounding. But he would not have made such an indelible mark on pop culture and television history without a massive leap of faith from his father, the comedic genius Eugene Levy.

Daniel Levy knew his father was worried

In "Best Wishes, Warmest Regards: A Schitt's Creek Farewell," a featurette that accompanied the show's series finale on Netflix, Eugene Levy recalls the moment his son approached him about developing the series. As Eugene put it, the proposal "set [his] heart to palpitating." While he had seen his son's previous work on MTV, he wondered if Daniel Levy could handle a scripted, half-hour sitcom. To his credit, Daniel acknowledged the validity of his father's concern, saying, "I didn't have any idea what I was doing."

While developing the pilot presentation, father and son spent weeks crafting the backstories for the show's characters. At one point during that process, the younger Levy wanted to move on from backstory building and dive into the actual writing. However, his father, best known for the many quirky-yet-layered characters he played in several Christopher Guest movies, told him there was no moving on until the characters were completely fleshed-out.

Daniel Levy had avoided working with his father

In a video interview with the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, Daniel Levy admitted that he was initially reluctant to approach his father about the project. As the son of a famous actor, he worried about accusations of nepotism, especially given Hollywood's unforgiving stance on those who trade on their family name. Speaking at a Television Critics Association panel to promote the series, Eugene Levy said that, prior to "Schitt's Creek," his son had never come to him before in a professional capacity (via Newsweek). In fact, every time he offered to help his son in the past, even simply to rehearse lines, Daniel turned him down. 

But when it came to "Schitt's Creek," Daniel felt so strongly about the project, and knew it would benefit from his father's involvement, that he eventually overcame his aversion to working with his famous parent. As Dan Levy said on "David Tenant Does a Podcast With...," when he finally did approach Eugene, he sensed his father's eagerness to collaborate, if for no other reason than to have "the experience of doing something creative with his son" (via Newsweek).

Daniel & Eugene Levy admire each other's talent

As father and son dove deeper into the project, both came to build a new appreciation of the other. For Eugene Levy, he was impressed by his son's writing skills, saying Dan Levy was "much more advanced in terms of story writing than I thought" (via Time). During production of the pilot episode, the elder Levy recalled watching his son perform and realizing that Dan's acting skills were also on point.

For Dan Levy, working with his father gave him the opportunity to understand "how and why he has had the career longevity that he's had" (via Variety). Seeing his father work also provided him with a road map for how he wants to advance and maintain his own career. Dan Levy also told Variety that both Eugene Levy and "Schitt's Creek" co-star Catherine O'Hara built an on-set environment that supported the younger, less experienced actors. Looking back on the six years he got to work with his father (and sister Sarah), Dan Levy said, "It's amazing to know that my dad and my sister and I have this chapter of our lives documented on film."