It’s fitting that Zachary Levi still feels like living out a childhood fantasy in DC Shazam! Series. His character is the adult version of a child (Billy Batson) who has magically transformed into an adult superhero.
“Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed of being an actor and I’m allowed to do that. Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve dreamed of being a superhero, so it’s two birds with one stone,” Levi, 42, told us at press day in Los Angeles for Shazam! wrath of the godshis new sequel to DC’s 2019 hit Shazam! (See below.)
“Not only that, I was a huge Tom Hanks fan Large and Christopher Reeve there superman. And this role really kind of brings those two things together. And it makes him a very unique superhero. More unique than most I can think of to be honest. And it’s so much fun. I can tap into my husband-child-me and just have fun at work with a nice group of people every day.”
This time, that group includes Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler, who together play the Daughters of Atlas – mythical beings who emerge to avenge the deaths of their divine ancestors and obtain weapons that could destroy the earthly realm. (The Daughters are new characters created for the screen and never appeared in DC Comics.)
“I was so excited about the DC aspect of it,” says Liu, 54. “And being a part of it in a different way, coming in as a goddess and not being associated with certain superheroes. Because it just leaves the door open for us to be creative.”
It’s a return to the action realm for Liu, whose most well-known roles were of the butt-kicking type Charlie’s Angel Movies (2000-03), kill Bill: part 1 (2003) and The man with the iron fist (2012).
“This is the first time I haven’t had to go through any formal training,” says Liu, whose character Calypso has the power to control mortals by whispering in their ear. “I could come in and just improvise and get involved in that sense.”
Zegler (Westside Story), 21, admits she takes inspiration from her action-packed co-star and often recreates it her famous “No” scene out of Charlie’s Angel. “I’d love to be featured in as many songs as Lucy Liu,” Zegler says, referring to the Liu namedrops in tracks like Destiny’s Child’s “Independent Women” and Outkast’s “Hey Ya.”
return for wrath of the gods are Asher Angel (as teenage Billy) and Jack Dylan Grazer (as Billy’s best friend Freddy Freeman, who also gained the power to transform into an adult superhero played by Adam Brody at the end of the first film), both now veteran professionals compared to their initial cast in late 2017.
Angel, 20, says: “I think I’m more aware now. I was so young then. I was 15 years old, it all happened so fast when I entered this huge set with all these people and all these moving parts. … But during the second film, I really had to be in the moment and see everything that’s happening and just absorb it all. It was very different for me.”
“I’m still in the process of getting used to it,” admits the 19-year-old from Graz, who also starred in the Stephen King production It movies and the indie thriller Don’t tell a soul. “I have a lot of fun. I get to express myself. I can live my dream – that’s a dream come true, to be in a DC movie is awesome. It was refreshing. It was the perfect mix of refreshing and nostalgic. To hang out with my best friend Asher and the rest of the cast. And also introduced an incredible cast of empowering women.”
Also new for round two: costume upgrades for Levi and the Shazam family (like Freddy, his four other foster brothers and sisters have powers in the sequel).
At San Diego Comic-Con 2019, Levi made headlines as he told us what a struggle it was to relieve himself in full costume, so much so that he needed an assistant to use the facilities. Of course we had to ask if toilet breaks just got easier with a new and improved suit.
“Well, no, it’s the same kind of situation,” Levi said before going into very clear detail again. “There are zippers that are way down your blemish area and then you have to unzip those to unzip a piece of cod. But I got really good at doing it myself, so I wasn’t always like in stirrups and getting pap smears, which I often was [on the first movie].
“I was a big boy! I was able to unpack myself all by myself. But when it comes to dropping a two, you still need someone to help you get out of the suit. Because you had to take off the whole suit. You can’t eat [whatever you want]. You have to stay away from a lot of chili. It’s just not good.”
Liu and Zegler had much simpler experiences with their Daughters of Atlas costume, which they assured us aren’t as difficult as they look.
“It worked,” says Liu. “And we felt like goddesses. And warriors too.”
“And they’re easy to put on and take off [capabilities] in the back of your mind,” adds Zegler. “Though you can’t do it yourself.”
Shazam! wrath of the gods opens on March 17th.
Watch the trailer:
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