Levy was born to a Russian Jewish family in Hamilton, Ontario. His mother was a housewife and his father was a foreman at an automobile plant. He went to Central Secondary School, and attended McMaster University. He was vice-president of the McMaster Film Board, a student film group, where he met moviemaker Ivan Reitman.
An alumnus of both the Second City, Toronto and the sketch comedy series Second City Television, Levy often plays unusual supporting characters with nerdish streaks. Perhaps his best-known role on SCTV is the dimwitted Earl Camembert, a newsanchor for the "SCTV News" and a parody of real-life Canadian newsman Earl Cameron. Celebrities impersonated by Levy on SCTV include: Perry Como, Ricardo Montalban, Alex Trebek, Sean Connery, Howard Cosell, Henry Kissinger, Menachem Begin, Bud Abbott, Milton Berle, John Charles Daly, Gene Shalit, Jack Carter, Muammar al-Gaddafi, Tony Dow, James Caan, Lorne Greene, Rex Reed, Ralph Young (of Sandler and Young), F. Lee Bailey, Ernest Borgnine, former Ontario chief coroner Dr. Morton Schulman, Norman Mailer, Neil Sedaka and Howard McNear as Floyd the Barber.
Original Levy characterizations on SCTV are comic Bobby Bittman, scandal sheet entrepreneur Dr. Raoul Withers, "report on business" naïf Brian Johns, 3-D horror auteur Woody Tobias Jr., cheerful Leutonian accordionist Stan Schmenge, lecherous dream interpreter Raoul Wilson, hammer-voiced sports broadcaster Lou Jaffe, diminutive union patriarch Sid Dithers ("San Francisckie! Did you drove or did you flew?"), fey current-events commentator Joel Weiss, buttoned-down panel show moderator Dougal Currie, smarmy Just for Fun emcee Stan Kanter, energetic used car salesman Al Peck, guileless security guard Gus Gustofferson, Phil the Garment King (also of Phil's Nails), and the inept teen dance show host Rockin’ Mel Slirrup.
Though he has been the "above the title" star in only two films, Armed and Dangerous (1986) and The Man (2005), he has featured prominently in many films. He is the co-writer and frequent cast member of Christopher Guest’s mockumentary features, particularly A Mighty Wind, where his sympathetic performance as emotionally unstable folksinger Mitch Cohen won kudos; his accolades included a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor - Musical or Comedy and the prestigious New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor. In the 1980s and 1990s, he appeared in Splash, National Lampoon’s Vacation, Club Paradise, Stay Tuned, Multiplicity and other comedies. Levy was the creator of Maniac Mansion, a television sitcom based on the LucasArts video game of the same name. He was also seriously considered for the role of Toby Ziegler on The West Wing, a role that went to actor Richard Schiff.
Levy, along with his son Dan Levy, is co-creator of the popular CBC/PopTV sitcom, Schitt's Creek. He also stars in the show alongside his son as head of the Rose family, Johnny Rose.
Levy's career received a tremendous boost in 1999, when he was cast as the clueless but loving dad in the blockbuster American Pie. Reprising the role in three film sequels and starring in four straight-to-video sequels made him something of a cult hero. Levy has been quoted as saying the American Pie series was a particular turning point in his career, affording him "a new perspective on his career at the time". Since working on the first two American Pie movies, Levy has worked with Steve Martin and Queen Latifah in Bringing Down the House, and most recently appeared with Martin in Cheaper by the Dozen 2. Levy again appeared as his famous character, Noah Levenstein, in the fourth theatrical film in the American Pie series, American Reunion. He is the only actor to appear in all eight American Pie films.
Levy, along with Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, was awarded the 2003 Grammy Award for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television, or Other Visual Media for the title song from A Mighty Wind. Levy appeared in the corner of a poster hanging outside the movie theatre in Springfield in the "See Homer Run" episode of The Simpsons. (The poster was advertising for Princess Rock Star and featured a girl with an electric guitar, with Levy in the corner wearing a royal crown. A liner note under him read “Eugene Levy as the King”).
In March 2006, it was announced that he would receive a star on Canada's Walk of Fame. In 2002, the entire cast of SCTV was given a group star, and although Levy is not mentioned on the actual star, he was still inducted as a part of the group. This makes him one of only four two-time honourees, alongside fellow SCTV alumni John Candy, Martin Short and Catherine O'Hara.
Levy is one of only a handful of people who have won at least five Canadian Comedy Awards, including two for Best Writing (Best in Show in 2001 and A Mighty Wind in 2004) and three for Best Male Performer (Best in Show, American Pie 2 in 2002, and A Mighty Wind).
On May 3, 2008, the Governor General of Canada presented Levy with the Governor General’s Performing Arts Awards (GGPAA), a lifetime achievement award considered Canada's "most prestigious artistic honour". In 2010, Levy was awarded the ACTRA Award by the union representing Canada's actors.
In 2011, Levy was made a Member of the Order of Canada "for his contributions as a comic actor and writer, and for his dedication to charitable causes."
On May 22, 2012, Levy delivered a commencement address at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and was awarded the degree Doctor of Laws (honoris causa).
On June 11, 2012, Levy was presented with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal by the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.
On March 13, 2016, Levy took home the award for "Best Performance by an Actor in a Continuing Leading Comedic Role" at the 4th Annual Canadian Screen Awards, for his performance as Johnny Rose in the CBC/PopTV sitcom, Schitt's Creek.
Levy married Deborah Divine in 1977 and together have two children: Daniel and Sarah.
Levy is an advocate for autism awareness and treatment. He was a close friend of John Candy, who died of a heart attack in 1994.1973 - Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival: Medalla Sitges en Plata de Ley for Best Actor (Cannibal Girls)1982 - Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (SCTV Network 90) (for episode "Moral Majority show")1983 - Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (SCTV Network 90) (for episodes "The Energy Ball" and "Sweeps Week")1994 - Banff Television Festival: Sir Peter Ustinov Awards1995 - Gemini Awards: Earle Grey Award2000 - Blockbuster Entertainment Awards for Favourite Supporting Actor (American Pie)2001 - Canadian Comedy Awards for Pretty Funny Male Performance and Pretty Funny Writing (Best in Show)2002 - Canadian Comedy Awards for Pretty Funny Male Performance (American Pie 2)2003 - New York Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Supporting Actor (A Mighty Wind)2003 - Seattle Film Critics Awards for Best Music (A Mighty Wind)2004 - Canadian Comedy Awards for Pretty Funny Male Performance and Pretty Funny Writing (A Mighty Wind)2004 - Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards: Critics Choice Award for Best Song (A Mighty Wind)2004 - Florida Film Critics Circle Awards for Best Ensemble Cast (A Mighty Wind)2004 - Grammy Awards for Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media (A Mighty Wind)2004 - Satellite Awards: Golden Satellite Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Comedy or Musical (A Mighty Wind)1982 - Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (SCTV Network 90) (for episodes "Cycle Two, Show Two" and "Christmas Show"1983 - Emmy Awards for Outstanding Writing in a Variety or Music Program (SCTV Network 90) (for episodes "The Christmas Show", "Towering Inferno", and "Jane Eyrehead")1985 - CableACE Awards: Ace Award for Performance in a Comedy Special (The Last Polka)1992 - Gemini Awards for Best Comedy Series (Maniac Mansion) and Best Writing in a Comedy or Variety Program or Series (Maniac Mansion)1993 - Gemini Awards for Best Comedy Series (Maniac Mansion)1994 - Gemini Awards for Best Comedy Series (Maniac Mansion)1998 - Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screenplay (Waiting for Guffman)2000 - American Comedy Awards for Funniest Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture (American Pie)2001 - Writers Guild of America for Best Screenplay (Best in Show)2003 - Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Chemistry (Bringing Down the House)2004 - Teen Choice Awards for Choice Movie Liar (New York Minute)2004 - Independent Spirit Awards for Best Screenplay (A Mighty Wind)2004 - Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards for Best Ensemble Cast (A Mighty Wind)2006 - Gotham Awards for Best Ensemble Cast (For Your Consideration)2006 - Razzie Awards for Worst Supporting Actor (Cheaper by the Dozen 2) and (The Man)