You probably remember Samm Levine best as Neal Schweiber from Freaks and Geeks, but the 34-year-old most recently appeared in the Internet comedy series Crunch Time, which premiered September 11. Produced by Austin-based entertainment studio Rooster Teeth, Crunch Time follows a group of misfit graduate students who build a business around a lucid-dreaming machine. As customers pay to live out their deepest, wildest fantasies, the machine starts to bring about the literal end of the world. Levine plays Conor, the inventor of the apocalyptic dream machine.
Levine's 1999 role in Freaks and Geeks led him to major film productions like Not Another Teen Movie; I Love You, Beth Cooper; and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds. So why has the comic actor focused his efforts on a smaller-scale Internet mini-series this time around? “It was one of the more fun jobs I've ever had,” he says. “It’s clear that everyone was there because they loved the script. I think it comes across on the screen that we were all really behind it, and we saw it for the creative genius that it was.”
Two of Crunch Time’s six episodes are available to watch right now, and the rest will be released sequentially. The series finale begs for a second season, but the formal word from Rooster Teeth CEO Matt Hullum is that a second season will only happen “if the fans demand it.”
While he maintains his posts as a frequent panelist on Doug Loves Movies and regular sidekick and guest host on Kevin Pollak’s Chat Show, Levine has slowed down his acting work for the sake of producing more. “Creative arts and financial interests will always clash. I've been doing this long enough that if I read a great script, I want to do everything I can to get it made. Most of the scripts I read are terrible dog shit, but I've read some amazing ones over the years, and it kills me inside that for whatever reason, they don't get made,” he says.
Levine’s next projects are completely behind the camera, co-producing two movies: And Then There Was Light (due out in 2017) and WTF: World Thumbwrestling Federation (later this year). But he’s not finished being on screen just yet. “I have so much fun being goofy in front of the camera that I can’t imagine giving it up,” he says. “I guess the reason I've stuck with it is that I have no real world skills. It was either this or pill-popping in parking lots. I had no real backup plan.”