Long before he became the DC Extended Universe's Shazam, Zachary Levi has seemingly always been fascinated with superheroes and his brief involvement in the Marvel Cinematic Universe pretty much proves that. But a lot of you may not be aware that Levi once auditioned to play Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy and it may come as a surprise to some that he actually came pretty close to the finish line.
Obviously, Levi was bested by Chris Pratt but according to the Tangled voice actor himself, his failed GOTG audition led him to the comic book film role he was always meant to play and he credits James Gunn for it.
The two have never collaborated on screen but thanks to his MCU audition, they formed a strong bond that is still alive to this day. In an interview on The Fourth Wall podcast, Levi explained how Gunn was instrumental in his DCEU casting, years prior to him directing The Suicide Squad.
According to the actor himself, producer Peter Safran gave Gunn a call and that's where it all began. He recalls: "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."
Zachary added: "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."
Also Read: Zachary Levi Expresses Frustration After Being Promised a Lengthier MCU Stint
Zachary Levi as Star-Lord would've been an interesting casting but I don't think he has enough "douchery" in himself to effectively portray Peter Quill, a role that Chris Pratt has virtually perfected. Zach just comes off as a genuinely nice guy and it would've been hard to take him seriously as an on-screen jerk. That being said, I'm glad he found the perfect role for him as the World's Mightiest Mortal.
Shazam! Fury of the Gods is scheduled for release in 2023.