This may be hard to imagine, but Zachary Levi originally turned down the chance to audition for ‘Shazam!’ due to feelings of depression and failure. He didn’t want to try-out for fear of being rejected if he didn’t land the role. Perhaps it’s the introspection that the New Year brings for a lot of people, but Levi took to Instagram to discusses the roller coaster of emotions that he has experienced over the past few years.
Accompanied by an illustration by Jim Lee, Levi shared his experience.
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This last year has been fascinating. The last few, actually. Two years ago today I was moving to Toronto, for the 4th time 3 years, to begin working on @shazammovie, one of the single greatest gifts I’ve ever been handed. Ironically, just 4 months prior, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to live anymore. My goals, and visions, and hopes, and dreams, and therefore expectations for myself, have always been a lot. So much so that when I surveyed my life a few years back, I genuinely felt like I was failing it. Failing myself. Failing my family. Failing the world. I didn’t feel worthy of the love that was around me. I didn’t feel worthy of any of the things I had achieved up to that point. And, when presented with an opportunity to audition for Shazam! the first time, I turned down the opportunity as I ultimately didn’t feel worthy of such a role. Then came therapy. Then came the beginning of finally loving myself. And THEN came the miracle that was me stepping into this life changing role. I will no doubt be on the journey of self love for the rest of life, and I’m so grateful for the lessons and strength found thru the darkness. But I will also be forever indebted to @ponysmasher, Peter Safran, @rbpix, and everyone at @newlinecinema and @wbpictures and @dccomics, for believing I was worthy of wearing this cape, even while I was still learning to believe that myself. 🙏 . (Thank you, @jimlee, for this incredible artwork. You’ve always been one of my favorite comic artists. And now you’re my friend. 🤯🙌)
It’s hard to imagine Levi going through such struggles, as his public persona is usually so upbeat and silly. It goes to show you never know what’s going on inside another person’s mind.
Professionally, Levi is arguably still best known for his NBC series ‘Chuck’, which lasted for five seasons. Although the series was successful, it was never a massive crossover hit. He also lent his voice to the character Flynn Rider (a.k.a. Eugene Fitzherbert) in the Disney hit ‘Tangled’. He was nominated for a Tony Award for his role of Georg in the musical ‘She Loves Me’.
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But some of his other endeavors haven’t been as well-received, including the critically-panned, ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel’, and the FOX pilot ‘Let It Go’ which wasn’t ordered to series. He co-starred on the revival ‘Heroes Reborn’ which was poorly received and not renewed for a second season. His character Fandral in the ‘Thor’ movies was unceremoniously killed off in ‘Thor: Ragnarok’. On a personal level, he married Missy Peregrym in 2014, but they divorced less than a year later.
As you may have seen on the ‘Shazam!’ bonus features, Levi originally auditioned for the much smaller role of Freddy Freeman’s heroic alter-ego. That can also probably be chalked up to his self-doubt. Luckily director David F. Sandberg saw Levi’s potential and chose him to star in the movie’s lead role.
In ‘Shazam!’, Levi nailed his performance as a 13-year-old in a super-powerful adult body, with wide-eyed glee and manic energy. It’s hard to imagine that there was such insecurity underneath that. ‘Shazam!’ was a hit and a sequel is in the works. In addition to that, he has landed the recurring role of Dr. Benjamin Ettenberg on Amazon Prime Video’s critically acclaimed series ‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’. And of course, you couldn’t turn on the TV in the past month without seeing him singing and dancing in the holiday commercial for Marshall’s and TJ Maxx.
Fans can look forward to Levi slipping back into the cape for ‘Shazam! 2’ which is scheduled to be released on April 1, 2022.