'Shazam!': The Rock's Casting Made Zachary Levi Assume He Would Not Be Seriously Considered
Zachary Levi almost passed on the title role in New Line's upcoming superhero blockbuster Shazam! [...]
Zachary Levi almost passed on the title role in New Line's upcoming superhero blockbuster Shazam! -- not necessarily because he did not want the part, but because he thought that he had no serious chance of getting it.
It was not until much later, when director David F. Sandberg had not yet found his star and sent Levi a second inquiry, that the Chuck and Thor: The Dark World star came around.
"The truth is, I had an appointment slip set up about two months before I got the job. My agency sent me an appointment slip for the role of Shazam in the movie, Shazam!, and I knew that the Rock had already been cast as Black Adam, and so my first reaction is, 'Why the hell are they sending me this right now?'" admitted Levi. "I emailed them and I said, 'Hey, aren't they looking for A, massive stars at the very least B, someone who is a massive person?"
Leaving aside the fact that he had never been the lead in a big-budget blockbuster, Levi assumed that the studio would be looking for somebody who was more of a physical match for Black Adam, who is essentially Shazam's opposite number in the comics.
Of course, he had no way of knowing at that point that Sandberg's version of the film had never had Black Adam in it.
"I knew that yin and yang, even as a cursory Captain Marvel person, who knew very little quite honestly about the character at that point," Levi admitted. "So, I emailed them back and I said, 'Aren't they looking for big stars or big guys?,' and there was kind of a noncommittal, 'We're not really sure.' And so I said, 'Well, I think I'm gonna pass because I think that might be a waste of time, this doesn't seem like I've got a shot at getting this job, to be perfectly honest.' And then some time went by, and I was reading on other things or looking into other things, and it came back around, and I got another audition for a completely different role. I had no idea exactly what the role was but they were sides that were specifically for auditions and I was like, 'Okay I think I can do one scene.' I felt like I could probably portray this character. And I put myself on tape and then that was sent to the creative team. Then I get a call from my agent and they said, 'Hey so what about that role as Shazam that you passed on two months ago? Because they think you actually might be very right for this.'"
Ultimately, Levi camera tested for the role about a week later, and ultimately got the job. In his mind, he says he likens it to Chris Pratt, who reportedly passed on Star-Lord at first before coming around to the role.
"It was gnarly, it was insane, it was also kind of oddly or ironically reminiscent of when I was camera testing for Star Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy," Levi explained. "I knew that Chris Pratt had also passed on that role, and I wanted it so bad. And there was definitely kind of a strange thing of like wow, you know, when you're not holding onto something so tightly, if it's not something you're dying and dying and dying for, but you can have a unbiased and somewhat clear idea of what you're trying to go after and know that you're just being you...you're bringing your essence and ultimately that's what I think got me this job."
"They knew that they needed to cast someone that could be as exuberant or optimistic or sassy as a 14 year old boy and damn it, that's me in a nutshell," Levi continued. "My particular energy has gotten me into a lot of incredible jobs like Chuck, like Tangled, like Alvin and the Chipmunks, whatever. It's got a lot of heart to these characters. And there's definitely a part of me that felt like, 'Maybe I'm never really going to have my shot at something like [Shazam] because you need to be one of the Chris-es. You need to be either starting super ripped or super moody or super sexy or whatever that is. I always kind of felt like I was more of an every guy. I always felt like I was following in a Tom Hanks kind of a trajectory -- but then when I realized that we were genuinely making something between Superman and Big I was like, 'Damn! This is a dream job. I couldn't have prayed or thought about this more.'"
Shazam! hits theaters on April 5, 2019. Other upcoming DC films include Joker on October 10, 2019, Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) on February 7, 2020, and Wonder Woman 1984 on June 5, 2020.