Zachary Levi plays the title role in Shazam!, the adult superhero form of Asher Angel's Billy Batson, but Levi says he first passed on the chance to play the Big Red Cheese.
“My agency sent me an appointment slip for the role of Shazam in the movie Shazam!," Levi told ComingSoon. I knew that the Rock had been cast as Black Adam, so my first reaction is, ‘Why the hell are they sending me this right now?…Aren’t they looking for big stars or big guys?'," Levi told.“This doesn’t seem like I’ve got a shot at getting this job, to be perfectly honest."
Levi wound up coming back to the role while auditioning for a part in a different, undisclosed film.
Shazam isn't the first big screen superhero Levi has portrayed; he played the Asgardian warrior Fandral in Marvel Studios' Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok - and according to Levi, it was Fandral's death in Ragnarok that opened the door to playing the DC hero.
“Let’s say Fandral was still alive and let’s say they tapped me to be in Avengers: Infinity War, I’d probably be sitting in Atlanta for three months doing almost nothing and then they’d be, ‘Okay, now we’re ready for you. You guys go in,’ And then we’d get killed then.”
In the end, Levi says playing "Earth's Mightiest Mortal" (invoking Shazam's classic nickname) is "the coolest thing ever. I’m so happy. And, literally to be able to jump start my life. I’m healthier and stronger and happier that I’ve ever been in my life. The people I get to work with, on and off screen here, has been tremendous."
Shazam! is due out in theaters April 5.