Zachary Levi and the comic book genre have a long and complicated history, one that ultimately worked out very well for both parties when he was hired to lead Shazam!, which turned out to be a breath of fresh air for the DCEU and one of the franchise’s most pleasant surprises.
Before that, though, he was forced to turn down the role of Fandral in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Thor due to scheduling conflicts with Chuck, only to play the part second time out when Josh Dallas was unable to commit due to his own availability issues. Levi was promised substantial screen time, which he didn’t get, and it turns out he even auditioned for Smallville.
In a 20th anniversary retrospective with The Hollywood Reporter, co-creator Alfred Gough revealed the creative team were high on the idea of casting him as Lex Luthor, only for the relative unknown to bomb his screen test.
“Zach Levi did an amazing audition for Lex. Incredible. We all went into The WB with Zach to be Lex. That audition was kind of a disaster. In leaving the audition, I remember thinking ‘Oh, that was the biggest chance of his life.’ And then he went on to incredible success. So you just never know.”
Things turned out okay for Levi in the end, as they did for eventual Lex Michael Rosenbaum, so there were really no losers in this particular situation. Although it’s fascinating to think how the former’s career would have turned out had he spent up to ten seasons tied to Smallville at the expense of Chuck, and eventually Shazam!.