Interview: Star Zachary Levi, Director David F. Sandberg, and Producer Peter Safran Talk ‘Shazam!’ in London
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, April 5 is coming closer for the world to see Shazam in theaters and many of you cannot wait. In the time you have to wait, we have a treat for you! On Wednesday, March 21 my colleague and dear friend James and I were able to interview Chuck star Zachary Levi, Director David F. Sandberg (Annabelle: Creation), and Producer Peter Safran (Annabelle: Creation). They all had something interesting to say to get us ready for the movie!
The first one James interviewed was Producer Peter Safran. He’s known for his work on The Nun, The Conjuring (1 and 2), Aquaman and both of the Annabelle movies.
James: “You were talking about kind of themes and styles back then, was it difficult to kind of get a balance between embracing a serious superhero film, but also having that element of where you kind of realize that the main hero is, in fact, a child? Was it difficult to get that nice balance?”
Peter Safran: “You know, it actually wasn’t that difficult because our touchstone for all these movies were, you know, the movies we grew up with loving. You know, Gremlins, The Goonies, Ghostbusters, and if you kind of use that as a touchstone you kept that in your mind, you know that was what we’re trying to achieve. I think people have really embraced that idea when they’ve seen the movie now. They feel like that is the kind of movie we made. So, it wasn’t that hard. And we all had the same vision in mind. You know, David [Sandberg], DC, Warner Brothers, New Line, you know, we were all pulling in the same direction.”
James: “Brilliant! Just a last question, in terms of production, just that I’m really fascinated about it. How many versions of the costume did you go through to finally get that one costume?”
Peter Safran: “Well, it was only one version of it, but it took a lot of tweaking to get to the right place. And we drew out a lot of inspirations, you know, the superhero’s been around since the 1940s. So, we drew from different elements, you know, maybe a shorter cape for the golden age, you know the more modern look for the actual texture. You know that is more reflective like the kind of Man of Steel type. Because, our character exists in the present day, so if you put him next to a Superman or a Batman, or a Wonder Woman or Aquaman, he’d still fit in. But we also wanted to make a nod to his past.”
Next one up, David F. Sanberg, the director of the movie, known for his work in Annabelle: Creation and Lights Out came down to us and explained how he cast Zachary Levi for the role.
Naomi: “You mentioned before on Twitter that you thought superhero movies are very complicated to make. I saw an interview a few days ago about Peter [Safran] and you saying that you would love to do a sequel. Are there any ideas on the table that you would like to talk about?”
David: “No, I mean we haven’t really discussed it, to be honest. Because, for us, the focus was just to finish, to make this the best movie. I think sometimes if you’re making a movie, and you’re thinking too much about ‘oh well, let’s save this for a sequel,’ or whatever, then you’re not doing the best job you can with the movie. So, for us, the focus was just on making the best Shazam! introduction that we could.”
James: “When it came to Shazam!, as a character, was Zachary Levi your first choice? Did you kind of see him and go like ‘I see Shazam!’?”
David: “As soon as I saw him, yes, but it took a while to get there because we did over 100 auditions before we found him. I hadn’t seen Chuck, so I wasn’t really familiar with him, but as soon as I saw him, you know, he feels like a big child. He has that childlike enthusiasm and excitement, and he’s super fun. He is Shazam! So, it was no question as soon as I saw him.”
Next in line was the man of the hour! Zachary Levi talked about how he prepared for the role, his friendship with Asher Angel and the love shared between the cast.
Naomi: “At San Diego Comic-Con you didn’t get to act with Asher Angel, so how did you kind of prepare for the role?”
Zachary: “Yeah well, we had some rehearsal time fortunately before we started shooting the movie. And we got as much of that in as possible, and then you know, just having like meals and hanging out with him and his family. Kind of learn how his brain and his heart works, and his essence a little bit. And we’re also very similar in some ways already, I mean, we really like pop music, and he’s going to be the next Justin Timberlake, I just wanna be… you know (laughs) I wanna be Justin Timberlake, and he’s going to be the next Justin Timberlake. ‘Cause who doesn’t wanna be Justin Timberlake? So, that was all very fun and cool and a very lovely way to I guess kind of get to know him. And then, you know, we did the best that we could, and then David Sanberg, our director, really just trusting him to tell each of us when we were on set, you know a little more like this or a little less like that, and kind of play jazz with that.”
James: “It was nice to see you having interactions on Instagram with the videos you guys did together as a cast. It was very sweet, it was nice to see a cast get on so well.”
Zachary: “Yeah! They- I’m just so grateful because there are a lot of kids in the movie and you know… kids are kids, you never know if they’re all gonna get along, and they all got along and it was so beautiful! And Marta [Milans] and Cooper [Andrews] who played the parents literally were the parents. I mean, they would all go on field trips together, they all bonded, that was fantastic. I mean, I’m really proud of them all, it’s not- being a kid in Hollywood is not an easy thing to do. And I don’t wish it upon anyone, I’m really grateful that I started when I was 18, so now really my job aside from this movie and if we ever get to do sequels and all that, my job beyond all that is to just like protect all my little cubs, and be like ‘nobody is screwing with these guys! They’re good kids, and they’re gonna keep their heads on their shoulders, and you know hopefully watch all of their stars, you know, rise and rise.”
Thank you to Warner Bros. UK for giving us this opportunity!
Shazam! Will floss into theaters on April 5.