Zachary Levi got some fine career stimulus when he scored the title role in Shazam!, as the superheroic alter ego of a gentle Philadelphia teen. Comic book movie roles ain’t nothing to sneeze at. Instead of a one-off gig, you get paychecks for as long as they keep your character around. Congrats to the guy from Chuck! But it wasn’t his first superhero rodeo. He was up for another key role, and not getting it, he thinks, is what got him the one he did get.
/Film caught Levi’s appearance on The Playlist podcast The Fourth Wall, where he reveals he auditioned for the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy, for his pal James Gunn. That, obviously, went to someone else.
James and I knew each other, we were friends, we would have game nights at each other’s homes, had a lot of mutual friends. And so he had asked me to come in and read for Star-Lord, and I did, and then that led to the next step, and then all of a sudden I was camera testing. Oh man, I wanted that role so bad, like so, so, so, so bad. It came down to me, one other guy, and Chris Pratt, but Chris was always their favorite and he was hesitant to take it, which is understandable, I mean it’s a big franchise thing, it’s Marvel, does it work out, does it not work out? Is this what everyone is going to know me as for the rest of my life? All of those things that go through your head.
But one door closes, another opens, as the saying goes:
But eventually, and I think smartly, [Pratt] decided to take the job and so it didn’t go my way or anyone else’s way for that matter, but I hoped I left enough of a good impression with James that when I was auditioning for ‘Shazam,’ and his very dear friend, and manager, and sometimes producing partner, Peter Safran, calls up James because this is how our industry works … Fortunately, I was in good standing with James, I try to be in good standing with as many people as I can be and try to be a decent person, and I think between that and how well James thought I did in the Star-Lord test, he said, ‘Yeah man, you really should give Zach an opportunity at this. I really think he could be great.’
“Was that the thing that sent it all over for me? I don’t know that, but I’m sure it was part of that conversation, absolutely. I’m indebted to James that he would believe in me enough to remember that and pass that info on.”
So it all worked out in the end. Meanwhile, Pratt is due for Vol. 3 of Guardians — and Mario, and Garfield — while Levi has Shazam! Fury of the Gods, where he gets to hang with no less than Dame Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu. The creator, as they say, has a master plan.