Warning: SPOILERS for Shazam!
Zachary Levi may be the star of Shazam!, but he originally auditioned to play a different role altogether. The story of Shazam! follows a Philadelphia foster kid named Billy Batson, who one day is summoned by the last surviving member of the Council of Wizards. The Wizard Shazam selects Billy to take over the mantle, allowing the teenager to transform into an adult version of himself with superpowers.
This older version of Billy is what Levi plays in Shazam! and gives him the chance to bring out his inner youthful joy, but he was far from the obvious choice to get cast. He had comic book movie experience through the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but his role as Fandral was nothing close to the co-lead of his own franchise. Shazam! is a big step up in that regards, and it turns out that Levi wasn't even auditioning for this role, but actually as an older Freddy Freeman.
Related: Every DCEU Connection in Shazam!
Screen Rant recently had the chance to speak to director David F. Sandberg about the movie and we asked him about the process of casting the older versions of the foster kids. In the third act of Shazam!, all of Billy's foster brothers and sisters - including Freddy - are given powers of their own, which brought about brand new actors for these roles. As Sandberg told us, Levi was actually auditioning for the adult version of Freddy, but he instantly knew he'd be better suited for a larger part:
Yeah, well it's kind of a funny story with Zach, actually, because his self-tape that he sent in was actually for adult Freddy. But when I saw his tape I was like, "Well, this guy is clearly Shazam."
Levi actually spends most of his time with the young version of Freddy Freeman, played by Jack Dylan Grazer, so it is fun to know that he originally was trying to play the older version of him. While many have become fans of Levi's version of Shazam, some have criticized that Billy has different personalities depending on if it is Levi or Asher Angel playing the part. Levi's performance and attitude does mirrors that of Freddy in many ways, so maybe he brought some of the role he auditioned for with him to his take on Billy.
With the success that Shazam! has already had, wheels are already in motion on a sequel that will see Levi reprise his superhero role. As he continues to become more comfortable in the role, his evolution in the part should continue. And since Levi already has the adult Billy role locked down, hopefully the sequel will see him interact even more with the young Freddy and Adam Brody's take on the older Freddy.
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