While Shazam! is very much a family-friendly movie, it doesn't come without its fair share of scary beats centered around the villainous Dr. Thaddeus Sivana as portrayed by Mark Strong. It's no surprise Shazam! features horror genre elements poke through in Shazam! given director David F. Sandberg's background in the Annabelle franchise. Still, Strong is rightfully proud of the work he did in portraying the film's scary villain.
"We talked about it and realized that the fun stuff is only gonna work if it's bookended by really terrifying stuff, and the terrifying stuff is only gonna work if the fun stuff is really irreverent," Strong told ComicBook.com in an interview featured in the video above. "And it's no accident, I think, that that balance takes the fun stuff to kind of a place that we've-- it's almost more fun than I've ever seen before, and the same with the darkness, it's gotta go that, it's gotta be properly scary, and the fact that he comes from a horror background was to my benefit. I have to say I feel completely supported by a guy who knows how to make an individual scary."
Strong's villain does come across as genuinely scary in one particular sequence about midway through Shazam!. It is a stark contrast to the rest of the film which is tremendously funny which is an intentional choice by the filmmakers.
In the end, it comes down to offering up a feeling of genuine stakes. "The goal was to set up the bad guys as a real threat, so you really, when the kids are threatened you believe it," director Sandberg explained. "They could actually get hurt or even die you know, I think that's important in a movie, to really set up the stakes and stay true to that."
For Strong, Sandberg's approach to the film was an acting treat. "As an actor, I think I want to play parts that are tricky, characters that are conflicted and multi-layered and complicated," Strong said. "I think you find that in the villains often, and what's great about this movie is you get to see him as a boy, and you find out where all that complication comes from, because obviously he's being bullied as a kid. So even though you may not like him, when there's an adult manifestation you might as least understand him, and that made this particular part really interesting."
Are you looking forward to Shazam!? Share your thoughts in the comment section or send them my way on Twitter, @BrandonDavisBD!
Shazam! hits theaters on April 5.
Have you subscribed to ComicBook Nation, the official Podcast of ComicBook.com yet? Check it out by clicking here or listen below.
In this latest episode, we talk about the new Shazam! early reactions and we are breaking down the epic Avengers: Endgame trailer! Make sure to subscribe now and never miss an episode!