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Shawn Levy
Shawn Levy by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Levy at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Shawn Adam Levy

(1968-07-23) July 23, 1968 (age 55)
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Education Yale University
USC School of Cinematic Arts
  • Director
  • producer
  • actor
Years active 1986–present
Organization 21 Laps Entertainment
Spouse(s) Serena Levy
Children 4

Shawn Adam Levy (born July 23, 1968) is a Canadian director, producer, actor, and founder of 21 Laps Entertainment. He has worked across genres and is perhaps best known as the director of the Night at the Museum film franchise and primary producer of the Netflix series Stranger Things.

Following early work as a television director, Levy gained recognition in the 2000s for directing comedy films like Big Fat Liar and Just Married before subsequently helming the Cheaper by the Dozen, The Pink Panther, and Night at the Museum film franchises. In the early 2010s, he directed films including Date Night and Real Steel, developed several comedy television pilots, and executive produced the ABC sitcom Last Man Standing. Levy was a producer on the 2016 sci-fi film Arrival, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Picture.

Since 2016, Levy has been an executive producer on the Netflix original series Stranger Things. He has directed the third and fourth episodes of each of the show's four seasons. He has also worked on upcoming Netflix limited series All the Light We Cannot See. Most recently, he has collaborated with Ryan Reynolds by directing Free Guy (2021), The Adam Project (2022), and the upcoming Deadpool 3 (2024).

Early life

Levy was born to a Jewish family in Montreal, Quebec. As a teenager, he attended St. George's High School in Montreal and trained at the Stagedoor Manor Performing Arts Training Center in New York's Catskills. Pursuing a career in acting, he attended the performing arts program at Yale University, graduating in 1989; during his time there, he became interested in directing and subsequently moved to Los Angeles to study film directing. He received a MFA from the USC School of Cinematic Arts in 1994.


1985–1994: Early career and education

Levy began his professional career while pursuing his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s. While studying performing arts, he made his acting debut was in Zombie Nightmare (1987), a low-budget horror film in which he portrayed the character Jim Bratten, the leader of a group of teenagers. The film is best known for being featured in an episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000. He also appeared in the 1988 film Liberace: Behind the Music.

He subsequently pursued his MFA in production, during which time he continued to act with a guest spot on 21 Jump Street and a recurring role on Beverly Hills, 90210. Since this time, he has acted in primary small and cameo roles as well like on 30 Rock as TV producer Scottie Shofar.

1995–2014: Directorial career and 20th Century Fox

Through the end of the 1990s, Levy worked primarily as a television director of teen dramas, like Nickelodeon's The Secret World of Alex Mack and Animorphs. He was the primary director and executive producer (season 3) of the Disney Channel coming-of-age show The Famous Jett Jackson (1998–2002) and its companion film (2001).

Shawn Levy in Moscow, October 2011
Levy in Moscow in 2011.

He made his feature film directorial debut in 1997 with the family films Address Unknown and Just in Time. This was followed by the 2002 teen comedy Big Fat Liar, his first theatrical release, and the 2003 rom com Just Married, which made more than $100 million in the box office. For the remainder of the decade, Levy worked successfully on big-budget family films, namely directing Cheaper by the Dozen (2003), The Pink Panther (2006), and Night at the Museum franchise (2006–2014)—and produced all of their sequel films. The first Night at the Museum film was Levy's most commercially successful project and one of the highest-grossing films of 2006. During this time he also produced the 2008 films What Happens in Vegas and The Rocker and executive produced The WB dramedy Pepper Dennis (2006).

Levy directed and produced the 2010 comedy Date Night starring Steve Carrell and Tina Fey. The same year, he began directing the sci fi drama Real Steel (2011), starring Hugh Jackman. Executive produced by Steven Spielberg, the film received mixed critical reviews and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects.

In the mid-2000s, Levy and his company 21 Laps signed a production deal with 20th Century Fox; it was renewed in 2010. Following this deal, Levy created a new television company with Marty Adelstein at 20th Century Fox TV to develop comedy series. Levy and 21 Laps were with the company until 2020. Since 2011, he has been the executive producer of the Tim Allen sitcom Last Man Standing. He also executive produced the short-lived ABC sitcoms Cristela (2014–2015) and Imaginary Mary (2017). Film projects with FOX include the 2012 Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill comedy The Watch (directed by Akiva Schaffer), Levy's comedy The Internship (2013), Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb (2014), Why Him? (2016), and The Darkest Minds (2018). He produced similar films for Warner Bros.; Levy was initially announced as the director of the film version of Minecraft but has since left the project.

Outside of 20th Century Fox, Levy worked to expand 21 Laps' range outside of primarily family-friendly comedies; this included producing the A24 drama The Spectacular Now (2013), the ensemble dramedy This Is Where I Leave You (2014), and the Academy Award-winning sci fi film Arrival (2016). For his role in Arrival, Levy was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture.

2015–present: Stranger Things and Netflix

He was announced to be directing the film adaptation of the Uncharted video game series, following David O. Russell and Neil Burger. Joe Carnahan worked with Levy to produce the script for the film, but Levy left the project on December 19, 2018. Levy was attached to produce a film based on the long-running children's series Sesame Street, which will be the show's third motion picture following Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, and its first in over two decades.

In December 2017, Netflix announced a 4-year contract with Levy. Due to the successful seasons of Stranger Things, he will create TV projects exclusively for the streaming entertainment company. In 2020, 21 Laps extended its deal with Netflix and signed a first look deal.

In 2021, Levy produced the film adaptation of the slasher novel There's Someone Inside Your House by Stephanie Perkins under his 21 Laps Entertainment label, alongside James Wan's Atomic Monster studio for Netflix. Alongside Eric Heisserer, he also executive produced the 2021 Netflix series Shadow and Bone, an adaptation of the fantasy book series The Grisha Trilogy and the Six of Crows Duology, under Netflix's deal with Levy's 21 Laps. Levy directed The Adam Project for Netflix starring Ryan Reynolds in the lead role.

In February 2022, it was announced that Levy will helm Backwards for Netflix. In March 2022, it was announced that Levy would direct Deadpool 3 for Marvel Studios. In November 2022, it was revealed that Levy would direct a Star Wars movie for Lucasfilm, following the conclusion of his work on Deadpool 3 and the fifth and final season of Stranger Things.

Personal life

Levy and his wife Serena Levy have four daughters together. Following many years living in Los Angeles, the Levy family moved to Manhattan in the early 2020s. Since 2009, he has also maintained a family home in the Hudson Valley community of New Paltz, New York.



Year Title Director Producer
1997 Address Unknown Yes No
Just in Time Yes No
2002 Big Fat Liar Yes No
2003 Just Married Yes No
Cheaper by the Dozen Yes No
2006 The Pink Panther Yes No
Night at the Museum Yes Yes
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Yes Yes
2010 Date Night Yes Yes
2011 Real Steel Yes Yes
2013 The Internship Yes Yes
2014 This Is Where I Leave You Yes Yes
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb Yes Yes
2021 Free Guy Yes Yes
2022 The Adam Project Yes Yes
2024 Deadpool 3 Yes No

Producer only

Year Title Director Notes
2001 I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus John Shepphird
2005 Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Adam Shankman
2008 What Happens in Vegas Tom Vaughan
The Rocker Peter Cattaneo
2009 The Pink Panther 2 Harald Zwart Executive producer
2012 The Watch Akiva Schaffer
2013 The Spectacular Now James Ponsoldt
2014 Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good, Very Bad Day
Miguel Arteta
2016 Arrival Denis Villeneuve Nominated – Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated – AACTA International Award for Best Film
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Film
Why Him? John Hamburg
2017 Fist Fight Richie Keen
Table 19 Jeffrey Blitz
2018 The Darkest Minds Jennifer Yuh Nelson
Kin Jonathan Baker
Josh Baker
2020 The Violent Heart Kerem Sanga
Love and Monsters Michael Matthews
2021 There's Someone Inside Your House Patrick Brice
2022 Cheaper by the Dozen Gail Lerner Executive producer
Crater Kyle Patrick Alvarez
Rosaline Karen Maine
Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again Matt Danner
2023 The Boogeyman Rob Savage


Year Title Director Executive
1996–1998 The Secret World of Alex Mack Yes No 6 episodes
1997–1998 The Journey of Allen Strange Yes No 3 episodes
1998–1999 Lassie Yes No 4 episodes
1998 First Wave Yes No Episode: "Marker 262"
1998–1999 Animorphs Yes No 5 episodes
1998–2001 The Famous Jett Jackson Yes Yes Directed 47 episodes; executive producer (season 3)
1999 So Weird Yes No 2 episodes
2000 In a Heartbeat Yes No 2 episodes
2001 Jett Jackson: The Movie Yes Yes TV movie
2002 Do Over Yes No Episode: "The Block Party"
Birds of Prey Yes No Episode: "Nature of the Beast"
2006 Pepper Dennis Yes Yes Directed pilot episode
2011–2016 Last Man Standing No Yes
2014 Cristela No Yes
2016 Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Yes No Episode: "Kimmy Drives a Car!"
2016–present Stranger Things Yes Yes Directed 8 episodes, including S4 E4: Dear Billy
2017 Imaginary Mary Yes Yes Directed 2 episodes
2020 I Am Not Okay with This No Yes
Dash & Lily No Yes
Unsolved Mysteries No Yes
2021 Shadow and Bone No Yes
2022 Lost Ollie No Yes
TBA All the Light We Cannot See Yes Yes
Real Steel No Yes

Acting roles

Year Title Role Notes
1986 Zombie Nightmare Jim Bratten
1987 Wild Thing Paul
1988 Liberace: Behind the Music Glenn
The Kiss Terry O'Connell
1989 China Beach Lieutenant Episode: "Dear China Beach"
1989–1990 Tour of Duty SP4 Budd Sills 2 episodes
1990 21 Jump Street Lance Episode: "Awomp-Bomp-Aloobomb, Aloop Bamboom"
Lifestories Luke Conforti Episode: "Art Conforti"
1991 Our Shining Moment J.J.
1993 Beverly Hills, 90210 Howard Banchek 2 episodes
Step by Step Daniel Episode: "Way Off-Broadway"
Made in America Dwayne
1997 Address Unknown
Just in Time Photographer
2000 The Famous Jett Jackson Producer 3 episodes
2002 Big Fat Liar Wolf Party Guest
2003 Cheaper by the Dozen Press/Room Reporter
2005 Cheaper by the Dozen 2 Hospital Intern
2009 30 Rock Scottie Shofar Episode: "The Problem Solvers"
2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian Guy in Commercial
2013 The Internship Guy in Nap Pod
2016 Stranger Things Morgue Worker Episode: "Chapter Four: The Body"
2021 All Too Well: The Short Film Her Dad Short film

Awards and nominations

Selected awards
Year Ceremony Award Work Result
2017 28th Producers Guild of America Awards Best Theatrical Motion Pictures Arrival Nominated
Best Episodic Drama Stranger Things Won
90th Academy Awards Best Picture Arrival Nominated
71st BAFTA Film Awards Best Film Nominated
2017 BAFTA Television Awards Best International Programme Stranger Things Nominated
69th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2018 29th Producers Guild of America Awards Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama Nominated
70th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2020 72nd Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Nominated

See also

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