“I had no idea exactly what the role was, but they were sides that were written specifically for auditions. I was like, ‘OK, there’s one scene where I felt I could probably portray this character.'” – Zachary Levi
It takes a particular type of actor to play Shazam, the superhero formerly known as Captain Marvel, in the upcoming Warner Bros. movie Shazam! After all, Shazam is actually the superhero alter ego of a fourteen year-old kid named Billy Batson. So while many fans think Chuck star Zachary Levi is a perfect choice for the role, he revealed to Screen Rant that he at first didn’t audition for the role because he didn’t think he was a good fit for it… but then when the opportunity came back around, he felt very differently.
Levi explained that he didn’t think of himself as the right person to play a superhero with the powers and stature of Superman. He says:
“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. I knew that the Rock had been cast as Black Adam, and, so my first reaction is, ‘Why the hell are they sending me this right now?’ I emailed them, and I said, ‘Hey, aren’t they looking for a) massive stars, or, at the very least, b) someone who is a massive person.’ Even as a cursory Captain Marvel person, who knew very little, quite honestly, about the character at that point, I knew enough to know that. So, I emailed them back and I said, ‘Aren’t they looking for big stars or big guys?’ There was kind of a non-committal, ‘We’re not really sure.’ So, I said, ‘Well, I think I’m going to 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.'”
The DC Comics superhero movie wasn’t the first comic book movie Levi auditioned for — he also auditioned to play Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. Levi recalls how that audition process went similarly to his Shazam! casting process:
“Then some time went by. I was reading other things or looking at other things. It came back around. I got another audition for a completely different role. I had no idea exactly what the role was, but they were sides that were written specifically for auditions. I was like, ‘OK, there’s one scene where I felt I could probably portray this character.’ I put myself on tape. That was sent to the creative team. Then, I get a call from my agent and they said, ‘Hey, so, what about that role of Shazam that you passed on two months ago, because they think you actually might be very right for this?’ Then, at that point, I got very happy. But I was also still kind of confused. I camera tested probably five days later, or six days later. Then, the next day, I found out that David called me… I got a call from David, who said, ‘You are my Shazam.’ It was gnarly. It was insane. It was oddly, or ironically, reminiscent of when I was camera testing for Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. I knew that Chris Pratt had also passed on that role. I wanted it so bad. There was definitely a strange thing of, ‘Wow. When you are not holding on to something so tightly, if it’s not something you’re dying and dying for, but you can have an unbiased, somewhat clear idea of what you are trying to go after and know that you are just being you, you are bringing your essence…’ Ultimately, that’s what I think got me this job. It’s what New Line saw. It’s what Warner Bros saw. It’s what David saw and Peter Safran saw. They knew they needed to cast someone that could be as exuberant or optimistic or sassy as a 14-year-old boy and dammit, that’s me in a nutshell.”