When we visited the Toronto-based set of the film, we got the chance to chat with Grazer. Seated in the bowels of the epic Rock of Eternity stage—where Billy meets the wizard Shazam—for a roundtable interview, the young actor was all smiles and still in costume wearing an Aquaman T-shirt. It was clear that he’s incredibly excited by the opportunity to be a part of the ever growing world of superheroes, even if he isn’t one himself… yet.
We keep hearing that your character is sort of the “in” to the DCU because he’s the fan of all the superheroes.
Grazer: I grew up with DC—with Batman, the Justice League, all those. But going into Freddy, I did have to look deeper into all these crazy universes and stuff that I knew nothing about. Freddy’s like a huge extraordinaire. I wish I could know all that.
How much fun is it working with Zach?
Grazer: He’s the best. It’s so much fun. We get to play off each other in the greatest ways. The chemistry is so good. It’s really good. Zach is obviously a smart, intelligent man, but he does have these little boy sides of him and it’s so funny.
Can you talk about how Freddy helps Shazam embrace being a hero?
Grazer: Freddy, as you all know, has a disability with his foot and his spine, and he, in my eyes, is kind of a hero due to the fact that he doesn’t really let the hate get to him. He kind of uses that disability, I guess you could say, to his advantage. He laughs about his disability rather than feeling sorry for himself, which I think is a really cool, strong move, and he kind of teaches Billy that like, “This is the most f***in’ cool thing that you could ever have! Dude, embrace the s*** out of this!”
Billy seems a bit meaner in this iteration. Could you tell us about his relationship with Freddy?
Grazer: I feel like Billy’s nicer when he’s Shazam. I don’t know what that means. I get it, though, because he’s being brought into this foster home and he doesn’t really feel like he wants to embrace anybody because he’s like, “I don’t want to be here.” That’s understandable. So he does have his moments.
How’s Freddy different from you as a person?
Grazer: I’ve actually noticed along the way and also when I auditioned that me and Freddy are really similar and really quick and really ironic and witty and cynical. We both really don’t take hatred. We don’t take it in offense. We kind of use it to our advantage. It’s another opportunity for me to use a joke or roast someone when it’s not mean. I realized that we’re both really resilient and strong when it comes to getting bullied and stuff. And we’re both super confident and we’re also cool.
I feel like every superhero now has the man in the van, the person who’s an expert who’s not actually there next to him. Do you kind of feel like that’s almost your role in this film?
Grazer: Yeah, kind of like a sidekick or his Alfred. I feel like Alfred in Batman, like I know everything. It’s like, “Yeah, he’s gonna be hiding there and he’s gonna be over there.” Because I know all about this and I plan everything out. So yeah, I do feel like that. It’s pretty cool.
How do you feel about comic book films and the genre as a whole? Were you a fan before? Are you more of a fan now or do you feel like you have a broader understanding of the genre?
Grazer: Well, it’s kind of like going to Comic-Con, let’s say, and then being an attraction at Comic-Con. It’s kind of like that. Like going to Comic-Con and being like, “Wow! These people are awesome!” and then being those people that people say are awesome. One of my greatest dreams is to be in a superhero movie, especially DC, because I grew up with DC. And it’s a dream come true. Even though I’m not Shazam, it’s a dream. It’s really cool. I’m livin’ it, so I’m really grateful.
Shazam! hits screens on April 5.
Images: DC, Warner Bros.