The hero of the movie may be Shazam! but it's his best friend Freddy Freeman who will be making him into a certified DC superhero. It's too soon to say whether or not Freddy will get to become a magical hero of his own in the future of the DCEU, but for those wondering, actor Jack Dylan Grazer is ready to answer the call.
We got the chance to speak with Grazer during our visit to the set of Shazam! just weeks into shooting, and learn how he was handling the pressure of bringing one of DC's oldest characters to life on screen. As if playing the best friend to two different actors playing the same person wasn't enough, it turns out Freddy will also be the main way that Shazam! is connected to the DCEU fans know. So yes, the most devoted comic book fans may end up feeling closer to Freddy than the hero himself.
We keep hearing that your character is sort of the 'in' to the DCU because he’s the fan of all the superheroes. Did you watch all the movies to prep or do you have to look at it from a real-world perspective because you’re in that world?
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.
Is being a superhero fan in that world more like being a sports fan our world? Like it’s not a weird thing.
Cool question. Well, maybe. Yeah, I guess people kind of idolize the superheroes that are saving the world. So I guess, yeah.
In the comics, Freddy gets to be one of the members of the Marvel family. Is that something that you’ve looked at or is that something that you’re excited to potentially get to mess with?
Oh, yeah! Definitely. I’m sorry I have to be extremely vague. I was just told I have to be very, very vague, but yes!
When you got the script and you’re getting ready to go film, what was the thing that you were most nervous about?
I don’t know if I was nervous. I was more excited. You know what I was nervous about, actually, was my interpretation of Freddy. Especially for the fandom of DC, it’s hard to find something that’s perfect because there’s always something that you’ll pick at. It’s really hard to reenact, I guess, Shazam. That whole thing. But I think we’re doing a pretty great job.
How much fun is it working with Zac? We got to see a few clips of you guys.
He’s the best. 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.
Is it any different when he’s himself or when he’s playing a 14-year-old boy?
Well, you know, in real life, it’s not that much of a difference. Zach is obviously a smart, intelligent man, but he does have these little boy sides of him and it’s so funny.
Do you get opportunities to improv a little bit?
Yeah! Oh my God! We actually have gotten to improv full scenes. Me and Zach are big fans of improvising.
Is there anything specific you can talk about?
...I don’t think so.
Can you talk about how Freddy helps Shazam embrace being a hero?
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 feel 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!’
You’re wearing an Aquaman shirt. Is that costume or is that just…
I wish it was mine! Hopefully, it can be mine.
But you’re in character, in costume?
This is my wardrobe, yeah.
Talk a little bit about filming the convenience store scene. We saw the stuff, so you are basically filming him and telling the bad guys ‘Keep shooting him.’
Yeah! To test his powers.
Can you talk a little bit about filming that scene and how much fun it was?
That was the first scene we shot. That was the first scene I’d ever shot with Zach and it was really, really fun to finally, because the anticipation was so high, to finally work with Zac and it was really, really, really, really fun.
We also got to see the clip of you guys getting beer, which is right in the comic. Were there moments when you were reading the comic that you were thinking ‘I hope we get to actually do this scene,’ or ones that maybe you didn’t get to choose?
Yeah. Well, I didn’t read [the comics] until like a month into production. Not the greatest idea, but I did, and I was like, ‘Oh my God! This is identical!’ I was so clueless, but yeah, it’s really cool to look at [the comics] and I’m like, ‘I’m doing that!’ It’s really cool.
Billy’s kind of, it seems like he’s more of a jerk in the comic than he may be in this incarnation or I’m assuming that Billy and Freddy maybe still having a bit of a falling out when Billy’s not so hot on being a superhero.
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.
Does Freddy have a ranking of his favorite members of the Justice League?
Superman is the number one.
In IT, you worked with a bunch of kids. You guys were all kind of bonded and got together. Now in this film, you’re doing something very similar. You’re working with another group of kids. Can you explain how that experience is maybe similar or different in this film versus It?
It’s really similar. I think in It, it was more of a brotherhood type of, I mean also Sophia [Lillis], but it was more of like a brotherhood type of bond, connection type thing than in this. It’s more like a family. We’re working together as a family. But [for It], it was more of like a really, really strong friendship. So yeah, there’s that kind of difference, but overall it’s kind of the same triumphant story of, you know, Freddy has a disability.
You’re acting opposite two actors who are essentially playing the same role, so can you just talk a little bit about what it’s like from your perspective or from your character’s perspective, he’s the same person, but maybe a little different?
It’s really cool! I worked on a show called Me, Myself and I and I got to see my older self and that’s really, really cool to have that other person emulate my mannerisms and the way I act. It’s really fun. I can’t really talk about that, but yeah, it is cool.
Besides the New 52, was there any comics that you dove into for any influence?
Yeah. I read the original Fawcett Comics. I glanced over them and it’s super different. I wish I could do that because I wanna wear the suit. I wanna be, well, *pfft* whatever (laughs).
Is there a difference for you in being terrorized by Mark Strong as a supervillain versus being terrorized by Bill Skarsgård as a clown?
Yeah. There’s a major difference. Bill Skarsgård was really, he’s a barbaric, evil clown that wants to eat me versus Mark Strong, who’s really intent and sophisticated and not trying to eat me.
The third act is amusement park stuff. Talk a little bit about filming some of that stuff and how involved are you in all the mayhem?
It’s really cool. It’s always really, really fun to shoot action-type fun scenes, like running from things and screaming because then you have a really good night’s sleep. You just worked out a lot. It’s really fun. I actually prefer shooting more intense scenes because it’s just really fun to get into like harsh character, anyway, yeah, it was really, really fun to shoot the carnival stuff.
How’s Freddy different from you as a person?
Great question. 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.
How did you prepare for Freddy’s handicap? Did you practice using the crutch? Did you go and be with people who have to use one?
I did. We called it stunt training, but it’s quote-unquote ‘stunt training.’ It’s not really stunts. I mean, it is, but I practiced walking on a crutch so it wasn’t looking like I was acting like I was walking on a crutch, like I was actually using the crutch to walk.
You’re kind of the demographic for these films too, especially Shazam, which is kind of trying to appeal to a younger audience. How do you feel about comic book films and the genre as a whole? I mean, now that you’re a part of it, 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?
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.
I’m curious, who’s ruined the most takes and why?
Well today, Grace [Fulton] got yelled at a lot, but it wasn’t really her fault. Anyway, I mean it kind of was. It was. Don’t tell her I said that.
What did she do?
She had a lot of lines. She just, you know, she flipped up a little bit, but also there was camera work that was really involved and it was hard. She had to be on the phone.
But besides today, you clearly are throwing her under the bus--
So on other days, who ruined the most takes and why?
Well, the stuff that we have to shoot outside, due to the fact that it’s freezing, our mouths get really cold and sometimes we can’t enunciate we’re like ‘Woah! Shazam! You’re so *flubs lips*’ And I can’t talk and then we both just start laughing and it’s so funny. I feel like we’re pretty professional on this set.
Does that go for David, too? How is he as a director?
Oh, he’s great! He’s really, really great. He really gives us room to just do our stuff and sometimes he just sits there and we’re waiting, we’re like, ‘You gonna say something?’ And he’s like, ‘It was good. It was good,’ That’s a good sign? That’s a good sign.
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?
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.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for more coverage from our Shazam! set visit.
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