Before he landed the lead role in Shazam!, Zachary Levi tried and failed to play Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy -- and James Gunn took notice.
Levi spoke to The Playlist about auditioning for the first Guardians with Gunn. He ultimately lost the Peter Quill role, but the director was so keen on his performance that he put in a good word over at Warner Bros.
"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," Levi said. "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. Oh man, 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."
Though Levi was in the final running for the role, he wasn't the top choice, but that missed opportunity soon led to him finally donning a superhero costume for the Distinguished Competition.
"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," Levi continued. "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."
Whether the Guardians audition was what clinched it or not, Levi landed the role of the superhero that Billy Batson turns into, and the film proved popular enough to land a sequel. Shazam! Fury of the Gods wrapped filming back in August, and looks at the new film have slowly been pouring out. At DC Fandome, the first Shazam! 2 footage dropped, showing off the new villains Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren will play.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods arrives June 2, 2023.
Source: The Playlist
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