James Gunn recently went on a lengthy Twitter thread explaining why it’s so important for actors do give the best audition possible even if they don’t end up landing the role in question, dropping several names that went in to read for Guardians of the Galaxy‘s Star-Lord that he ended up working with later on down the line.
While The Suicide Squad director hasn’t collaborated with Zachary Levi in an onscreen capacity as of yet, the two have been friends for a long time, with the DCEU’s Shazam! having been pushed to the forefront of that conversation after coming highly recommended for the part.
While Levi did eventually board the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the forgettable Fandral in Thor: The Dark World, he explained to The Fourth Wall podcast how missing out on Guardians of the Galaxy ultimately saw him secure Shazam! when his next chance at a major comic book property came up.
“James [Gunn] 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. 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 eventually, and I think smartly, he 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.
It would be safe to say that Shazam! elevated Levi’s career to the next level, with his charismatic and massively entertaining performance as the title hero steering the blockbuster to some of the DCEU’s best-ever reviews, while it remains the franchise’s most profitable film ever, so everything worked out pretty well in the end.