Sam Levinson
Sam Levinson speaking at the 2018 San Diego Comic-Con
Levinson in 2018
Born
Samuel Levinson

(1985-01-08) January 8, 1985 (age 39)
United States
Occupations
  • Filmmaker
  • actor
Years active1992–present
SpouseAshley Lent
Children1
RelativesBarry Levinson (father)

Samuel Levinson (born January 8, 1985) is an American filmmaker and actor. He is the son of Academy Award-winning director Barry Levinson. In 2010, he received his first writing credit as a co-writer for the action comedy film Operation: Endgame. The following year, he made his directorial film debut with Another Happy Day (2011), which premiered at Sundance Film Festival. He then received a writing credit on his father's HBO television film The Wizard of Lies (2017). He continued writing and directing for the feature films Assassination Nation (2018) and Malcolm & Marie (2021).

In 2019, Levinson created the HBO teen drama series Euphoria which was adapted from the Israeli series of the same name. The series is popular with audiences and received positive reviews from critics. In 2023, he created the HBO series The Idol, which was controversial and received negative reviews.

Early life

Levinson was born on January 8, 1985, and is the son of Diana Rhodes, a production designer for TV commercials, and filmmaker Barry Levinson.[1][2] His father is from a Russian-Jewish family.[3] Levinson studied method acting for four years.[4] He has a brother, Jack Levinson, who is also an actor,[5] and two half-siblings, Michelle and Patrick, from his mother's first marriage.

Career

Levinson made his film debut as an actor in his father, director Barry Levinson's 1992 fantasy comedy Toys, alongside his brother Jack. He continued to appear in his father's films such as the comedy-drama film Bandits (2001) and the satirical comedy film What Just Happened (2008). In 2009, acted in the Uwe Boll film Stoic. In 2011, Levinson premiered his directorial film debut, Another Happy Day, which starred Ellen Barkin at the Sundance Film Festival.[1][6] Despite the film's negative reviews, it received the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award.[7]

Levinson co-wrote the 2017 television film The Wizard of Lies, which was directed by his father Barry Levinson. The film focuses on Bernie Madoff, who is played by Robert De Niro.[8] Levinson wrote and directed the film Assassination Nation[9] which premiered at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival to mixed reviews from critics, who praised its "frenetic and visually stylish" action but criticized the thinly-written characters.[10][11] In June 2019, Levinson created the HBO television drama series Euphoria, based on the Israeli series of the same name (Hebrew: אופוריה‎).[12][13] The series has received both praise and criticism for its direction, writing, and acting. It is infamous for its raw and graphic portrayal of teenagers wrestling with drug addiction and sexuality.[4]

In 2020, Levinson wrote and directed the film Malcolm & Marie, reuniting him with Euphoria star Zendaya, which was distributed by Netflix in February 2021.[14] The film was received poorly by critics. Aisha Harris of NPR wrote, "All that's left are two characters rendered awkwardly as vessels for a director's odd hang-ups about his own identity and craft".[15] Shirley Lee of The Atlantic described the film simply writing "Malcolm & Marie isn't Art. It's a meltdown" and that it "seems to use the titular couple as mouthpieces for a litany of his own gripes."[16] Levinson co-wrote the screenplay for the psychological erotic thriller Deep Water (2022), based on the 1957 novel of the same name by Patricia Highsmith.[17][18] The film debuted on Hulu where the adaptation was poorly received. The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw specifically panned the film's script, writing "Deep Water looks like a huge amount of material has been shaped in the edit but there are odd gaps and elisions".[19] Levinson has executive produced Pieces of a Woman (2020), Breaking (2022), X (2022), and Pearl (2022).[20]

On June 29, 2021, Levinson announced that he will be co-creating, writing and executive producing another HBO television drama series The Idol, alongside recording artist Abel 'The Weeknd' Tesfaye and his producing partner Reza Fahim.[21] The series garnered controversy following an expose in Rolling Stone which featured allegations against Levinson and Tesfaye of creating a toxic work environment and crew members alleging the script involved explicit sexual content which amounted to "sexual torture porn".[22][23] The first episode premiered at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival to negative reviews. Time Magazine critic Stephanie Zacharek wrote, "The Idol pretends to expose exploitation while reveling in it",[24] Variety critic Peter Debruge noted "The script seems calculated to fool audiences into thinking they're observing how Hollywood operates, when so much of it amounts to tawdry clichés" and that the series "plays like a sordid male fantasy".[25] The series premiered on Max on June 4, 2023. Noting that the season had been cut short by an episode without explanation, The Telegraph critic Ed Power expressed that the finale "had deepened the suspicion that, as far back as teen drama Euphoria, he was a voyeur without a soul".[26] HBO announced the show's cancellation after one season on August 28, 2023.[27]

Personal life

From 2008 to 2011, Levinson dated actress Ellen Barkin.[28] Levinson is married to Ashley Lent Levinson. The couple has a son.[4]

Levinson has discussed his struggles with drugs as a teenager and young adult.[29]

Filmography

Film

Year Title
Director Writer Producer
2010 Operation: Endgame No Yes No
2011 Another Happy Day Yes Yes No
2018 Assassination Nation Yes Yes No
2021 Malcolm & Marie Yes Yes Yes
2022 Deep Water No Yes No

Executive producer

Acting roles

Year Title Role
1992 Toys War Room Player
2001 Bandits Billy Saunders
2008 What Just Happened Carl
2009 Stoic Peter Thompson

Television

Year Title
Director Writer Executive
Producer
Creator Notes
2017 The Wizard of Lies No Yes No No TV movie
2019–present Euphoria Yes Yes Yes Yes 18 episodes
2022 Irma Vep No No Yes No Miniseries
2023 The Idol Yes Yes Yes Yes 5 episodes

Critical reception

Year Title Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Film
2010 Operation: Endgame 40%
2011 Another Happy Day 46% 46%
2018 Assassination Nation 74% 54%
2021 Malcolm & Marie 57% 53%
2022 Deep Water 36% 53%
Television
2019 Euphoria: Season 1 80% 68%
2022 Euphoria: Season 2 80% 74%
2023 The Idol 18% 27%

Accolades

Year Award Category Work Result Ref.
2011 Sundance Film Festival Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award Another Happy Day Won [30]
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic Nominated
2018 Writers Guild of America Awards Television: Long Form – Adapted The Wizard of Lies Nominated
Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award: Midnight Madness Assassination Nation Nominated
2020 British Academy Television Awards Best International Programme Euphoria Nominated
2022 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2023 Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directing – Drama Series Won

References

  1. ^ a b Sragow, Michael (January 31, 2011). "Like father, like son: Sam Levinson wins at Sundance". The Baltimore Sun.
  2. ^ Levinson, Barry (1990). Avalon ; Tin Men ; Diner: Three Screenplays. Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 978-0-87113-435-6.
  3. ^ "Barry Levinson: Baltimore, My Baltimore". archive.nytimes.com. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Sandberg, Bryn Elise (June 16, 2019). "'Euphoria' Creator on Boundary-Pushing HBO Drama: "We Didn't Want to Pull Any Punches"". The Hollywood Reporter.
  5. ^ "Jack Levinson". IMDb. Retrieved February 26, 2021.
  6. ^ Holden, Stephen (November 17, 2011). "Sam Levinson's 'Another Happy Day' - Review". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Meet the 2011 Sundance Filmmakers: "Another Happy Day" Director Sam Levinson". IndieWire. January 14, 2011.
  8. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (May 9, 2017). "'The Wizard of Lies': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  9. ^ Crump, Andy (September 22, 2018). "How 'Assassination Nation' Exploits Privacy Fears". The Hollywood Reporter.
  10. ^ Giles, Jeff (September 20, 2018). "The House with a Clock in Its Walls Ticks Along Tolerably". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  11. ^ Felperin, Leslie (February 9, 2018). "Sundance 2018; 'Assassination Nation': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  12. ^ Roxborough, Scott (March 13, 2018). "HBO Puts in Pilot Order for 'Euphoria,' Based on Israeli Format". The Hollywood Reporter.
  13. ^ Goodman, Tim (June 5, 2019). "'Euphoria': TV Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
  14. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (September 13, 2020). "Netflix Closes $30 Million Deal For 'Malcolm & Marie' Off Promo; Sam Levinson Lockdown-Shot Drama Stars Zendaya & John David Washington: Toronto". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 13, 2020.
  15. ^ "'Malcolm & Marie' Is Lost, Just Like Its Central Coupl". NPR. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  16. ^ "Malcolm & Marie Isn't Art. It's a Meltdown". The Atlantic. February 5, 2021. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  17. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (August 1, 2019). "New Regency Bringing Adrian Lyne Back To Directing With 'Deep Water;' Ben Affleck, Ana de Armas In Talks For Patricia Highsmith Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Los Angeles, California: Penske Media Corporation.
  18. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 23, 2020). "'Black Widow' Jumps To Summer 2021 Spurring Marvel Pics Release Date Shift; 'West Side Story' Delayed A Year; 'Soul' Stays Theatrical". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  19. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (March 14, 2022). "Deep Water review – erotic thriller loves Ben Affleck's slack-jawed look". The Guardian. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  20. ^ Galuppo, Mia (October 22, 2019). "Shia LaBeouf to Star in Drama 'Pieces of a Woman' (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved June 15, 2020.
  21. ^ White, Peter (June 29, 2021). "The Weeknd To Star In & Write Pop Singer Cult Drama Series 'The Idol' With Sam Levinson In The Works At HBO". Deadline. Retrieved July 1, 2021.
  22. ^ "How HBO's The Idol Became One of TV's Most Controversial Shows—Before It Even Aired". Time Magazine. March 2, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  23. ^ "'The Idol' Is More Toxic and Way Worse Than You've Heard". Rolling Stone. May 23, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  24. ^ "Entertainment - Television - The Idol Pretends to Expose Exploitation While Reveling in It". Time. May 23, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  25. ^ "The Weeknd and Sam Levinson's 'The Idol,' Starring Lily-Rose Depp, Plays Like a Sordid Male Fantasy: TV Review". Variety. May 23, 2023. Retrieved June 4, 2023.
  26. ^ Power, Ed (July 4, 2023). "The Idol finale, review: farewell to the worst TV show of the year". The Telegraph. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  27. ^ Campione, Katie (August 28, 2023). "'The Idol' Canceled At HBO After One Season". Deadline. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  28. ^ Dyball, Rennie (June 2, 2011). "Ellen Barkin Is Dating Sam Levinson". People.
  29. ^ Chuba, Kirsten (June 5, 2019). "'Euphoria' Creator on Authentic Trans Portrayals, Mining "Deeply Personal" History to Tackle Teen Drug Abuse". The Hollywood Reporter.
  30. ^ "Sam Levinson – Awards – IMDb". IMDb. Retrieved June 15, 2020.