Zachary Levi discusses how almost landing the role of Star-Lord in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy helped him get cast in 2019’s Shazam!
Zachary Levi says he came close to landing the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, which helped him get cast in Shazam! The actor has appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and 2016’s Thor: Ragnarok as Fandral, a member of the Warriors Three along with Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Hogun (Tadanobu Asano). Other than his MCU and DCEU roles, Levi is known as the titular computer whiz in the NBC series, Chuck.
Following his portrayal of one of Thor’s closest comrades in the MCU, Levi made his DCEU debut in 2019’s Shazam! as the adult alter-ego of teenager Billy Batson (Asher Angel) who is chosen by an ancient wizard (Djimon Hounsou) to be his new champion, granting him the ability to transform into a fully-grown superhero by saying the magic word, “Shazam.” The movie was a modest hit by the franchise’s standards, grossing $366 million worldwide, which was enough for Warner Bros. to began developing a sequel.
However, Levi’s career could have gone much differently if he got the first MCU role he wanted. During a recent appearance on The Fourth Wall podcast (via The Playlist), Levi reveals he was one of the final three actors in the running for the role of Star-Lord, which eventually went to the Parks and Recreation star, Chris Pratt. In hindsight, Levi credits the Guardians of the Galaxy audition process (as well as the relationship he developed with writer/director James Gunn) as one of the main reasons he was able to land the role of Shazam. Read what Levi had to say below:
James [Gunn] and I knew each other, we were friends, we would have game nights at each other’s homes, had a lot of mutual friends. And so he had asked me to come in and read for Star-Lord, and I did, and then that led to the next step, and then all of a sudden I was camera testing. I wanted that role so bad, like so, so, so, so bad. It came down to me, one other guy, and Chris Pratt, but Chris was always their favorite and he was hesitant to take it, which is understandable, I mean it’s a big franchise thing, it’s Marvel, does it work out, does it not work out? Is this what everyone is going to know me as for the rest of my life? All of those things that go through your head.
But eventually, and I think smartly, he decided to take the job and so it didn’t go my way or anyone else’s way for that matter, but I hoped I left enough of a good impression with James that when I was auditioning for Shazam, and his very dear friend, and manager, and sometimes producing partner, Peter Safran, calls up James because this is how our industry works…Fortunately, I was in good standing with James, I try to be in good standing with as many people as I can be and try to be a decent person, and I think between that and how well James thought I did in the Star-Lord test, he said, “Yeah man, you really should give Zach an opportunity at this. I really think he could be great.” Was that the thing that sent it all over for me? I don’t know that, but I’m sure it was part of that conversation, absolutely. I’m indebted to James that he would believe in me enough to remember that and pass that info on.
Based on his retelling of events, it appears Levi’s failed audition for Star-Lord was instrumental in landing the role of Shazam, as well as cultivating a relationship with Gunn, who is now ingrained within the fabric of the DCEU due to his recent film, The Suicide Squad. Gunn was also wise to recommend Levi for the job, considering the similarities between the two characters. Star-Lord is often criticized for his immature and childish ways, while Levi’s Shazam is actually a teenager inhabiting the body of a grown man.
Since Levi was the runner-up for the role of Star-Lord, Shazam made for a great consolation prize. Even though Levi missed out on the role of his dreams, everything has worked out well for both franchises. Pratt’s performance as Star-Lord has been highly acclaimed, resulting in multiple sequels and appearances in the MCU. Levi, on the other hand, will return to the DCEU in the sequel to Shazam! subtitled Fury of the Gods releasing in 2023.
Next: Shazam 2: What The Fury Of The Gods Title Means
Source: The Playlist
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- Shazam! Fury of the Gods (2023)Release date: Jun 02, 2023
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