Bringing to life Shazam is at once both an exhilarating and challenging prospect. The character has a storied and somewhat confusing history, which has seen him share a moniker with Captain Marvel–he was the original–and of course deals with the very strange conceit of the hero being both a young boy and a fully grown adult. During our recent visit to the set of the upcoming DC adaptation we chatted to both sides of the titular caped crusader, Zachary Levi and Asher Angel, about how you create one cohesive superhero out of two performances.
Sitting in the epic practical set of the Rock of Eternity, Levi shared that coming up with the perfect way to bring Shazam to life was a long process, but it came quite easily to the pair. “We were having conversations very early on, as soon as I got cast, obviously a whole slew of different meetings and conversations and fittings. And one of those things was, ‘When can Asher and I get some time to just hang out, and also time with David all together going through scenes?’ We got as much as we possibly could. [Asher] was still shooting Andi Mack for quite some time, I think for almost all of our prep and everything, but was able to come up a little bit and we were able to hang out. Fortunately, he’s just a really good, cool kid who also really loves life and video games and sings and dances and things I can relate to. And I go, ‘Oh, wow. Cool.’ So, we kind of hit it off immediately and he’s got a lovely family.”
The pair clearly get along and for the young star who brings Billy Batson to life it’s all about that vital connection between the two actors. “It can be really hard when you’re really adult and you have to play a kid. And I think for us we really just have to have this really good bond and just be like best friends! I’ve gotten to know Zach really, really well. He’s just this really goofy, energetic guy and I just love him so much, and I think that really helps,” Angel shared.
It wasn’t always easy though, as with most massive blockbuster films Shazam was shot out of order which made it a little harder for the pair to coordinate their performances. “It’s not like I could really watch him do all of his stuff. I started off in one of my scenes and I was like, ‘Ok. I think this is the choice I am going to make,’ and then once you do, you just have to commit to that choice, Levi said. Otherwise, your performance is all over the place throughout the movie. I think everything has been going good. Everybody seems to be happy. When everybody is happy, I am happy.”
So how exactly do you go about imbuing a 14-year-old with the powers of Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, and Mercury? Well, that question is something Levi has pondered a lot. “I asked this question of David at the camera test, or maybe right before it. Having done the research on the character and being like, ‘How is this going to work?’ If you have read The New 52, it does take a little license with that. In fact, I don’t think it’s the only version of Captain Marvel or Shazam that’s taken license with this paradox. Essentially, what was settled on is the idea that while some of these powers, or these namesakes and powers–be it Hercules or Atlas or what have you–are a little more evident as Billy is becoming Captain Marvel/Shazam.”
We can’t wait to see how the pair tackle the duality of Shazam when the film hits cinemas on April 5th.
Images: DC, Warner Bros.