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Set Visit: David Sandberg, Jack Dylan Glazer and Asher Angel on Shazam!

While on the set of SHAZAM! we talked to many of the behind-the-scenes personnel who helped bring it to life, but perhaps the one who has the biggest burden on his shoulders is director David Sandberg. Starting out with a super creepy horror short that he put online called LIGHT'S OUT, the director eventually helmed a feature-length film of it before taking on the horror sequel ANNABELLE: CREATION. With plenty of scares under his belt he was an interesting choice to take on a superhero property. Sandberg spoke with quiet confidence about taking on SHAZAM! and while we can't divulge everything he said (there are definitely more surprises than what you've seen), here's some of the highlights from the director.

When asked about the reception to JUSTICE LEAGUE (which he says doesn't both him at all) and how SHAZAM! will be incorporated into the broader DCEU, Sandberg acknowledges its inclusion, but is still clear that it's its own thing. "It's still the same universe, but just has a very different tone," he says. Given that his resume is full of darker horror-ific things, Sandberg says the appeal to SHAZAM! was easy. "Well, basically they told me, 'Oh, it's like Big with superpowers.' It's like, that sounds awesome. Like there's so much you can have with that wish fulfillment of this kid who gets to become a superhero and try out all these things. Yeah, it just felt very unique." In terms of the reference to BIG (the Penny-Marshall directed film staring Tom Hanks for anyone not in the know), Sandberg says there are more than few references to BIG in SHAZAM!, although he wouldn't reveal what.

With the deviation from Zack Snyder's darker, more serious tone with MAN OF STEEL and BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE after JUSTICE LEAGUE, WONDER WOMAN and AQUAMAN, Sandberg addressed the tone of SHAZAM!, saying it's not an outright comedy, nor is it "dark and gritty." "It's sort of a-Yeah, it's a fun movie-Like, it's not like a pure comedy, because you still have those-touches some pretty dark subjects...I like to compare it to like '80s movies, like Goonies and Ghostbusters and Back To the Future." In terms of casting, Sandberg said it was a pretty standard process for something like this, but it revealed his SHAZAM! rather clearly. "We did very extensive casting. We read, I think it was over a hundred people for the role of Shazam. I mean, that's usually the case. You just read tons and tons of people until you see some-You see right away that it's like, 'Ooh, that's the guy.' And that's kind of what happened with Zach once I saw-He had self-taped and sent that in," Sandberg says, which told him immediately, "Ooh, that's the guy."

As for utilizing the Geoff Johns material from the New 52 Comics, as well as the Fawcett Comics material, Sandberg explained that it was a process of combining elements that they liked most to make up the best version of SHAZAM! and the supporting characters. "I wanted to incorporate a little bit of everything, not just in 52, but the older stuff as well," he says. "The suit is one part of that where it's like, 'Yeah, I want the shorter cape of like the Golden Age comics. But then we-And like, 'Let's try the hood from the new 52.' And little things like that, and trying to balance it. So we have things and references from the old comics, but a lot of the story takes inspiration from the new 52. So it's a combination of like, 'Oh, I like this, and we like that, and let's put it together.'"

One element of the film is the setting, which takes place during Christmastime. Sandberg explained that the season and setting were very intentional to the story dynamic. "It's a lot about family and Christmastime and this family holiday. And it's about like finding your family with these foster kids and everything. So yeah, it was just very appropriate for the story. It just meant that we had to shoot it here [Toronto] in winter, which has been pretty brutal. Shoot it all on location during nights, because they were like-They were telling me like, 'If you shoot the carnival during the day, you get more kid hours, everything will be easier.' And I was like, 'Well, it's not gonna look good with all the lights and everything.' So yeah, so we've been shooting it during the nights and it's been pretty miserable."

Sandberg was feeling the pressure of working on a big-budget superhero movie, especially after coming from the lower-budget realm of horror, saying that it's most definitely a challenge from those productions, but ultimately worth the effort. "Yeah, it's quite a marathon. Like, it's a lot of work. Yeah, it's a very different way of working, just because you have to do all this previs, and like plan everything out months in advance. And then when you're shooting it ... It's not always as fun as shooting a smaller movie, because you have to shoot ... Oh, today we're shooting this little piece, and this little piece, because this piece is second unit, this is on blue screen, this is CGI. It's a lot of things to keep track of," he says. "So the shooting is not always fun, but the result is so much more awesome than-when you have when you have these kinds of resources. So yeah, it's been a lot of work. I mean, especially like now, we're shooting main unit during the day and second unit is shooting during the night. And I want to be part of as much of it as possible, so I'm not getting a lot of sleep, but it's-Yeah, we're doing some cool stuff."

In addition to the adults working on the film, from Sandberg to Zachary Levi to Mark Strong and others, one of the most crucial components of the film is the kids. Jack Dylan Glazer plays Freddy, and is no stranger to working with a group of kids as he made a splash as Eddie Kaspbrak in Andy Muscietti's adaptation of Stephen King's IT (and will appear again in IT: CHAPTER TWO) and is now the bestie to a superhero in SHAZAM! We talked with Jack about working on the film, his relationship with Levi and what he was most nervous about after being cast in the film.

"I don’t know if I was nervous. I was more excited. You know what I was nervous about, actually, was my interpretation of Freddy. Especially for the fandom of DC, it’s hard to find something that’s perfect because there’s always something that you’ll pick at. It’s really hard to reenact, I guess, Shazam. That whole thing. But I think we’re doing a pretty great job," Glazer says. He also addressed his co-star, Zachary Levi, who seems to charm his way into every heart he encounters. "He’s the best. He’s the best. It’s so much fun. We get to play off each other in the greatest ways. The chemistry is so good. It’s really good."

In terms of how his character, Glazer says he has a unique approach to handling his disability that informs SHAZAM! in his own perspective. "Freddy, as you all know, has a disability with his foot and his spine and he, in my eyes, is kind of a hero due to the fact that he doesn’t really let the hate get to him. He kind of uses that disability, I guess you could say, to his advantage. He laughs about his disability rather than feel sorry for himself, which I think is a really cool, strong move and he kind of teaches Billy that like, ‘This is the most fuckin’ cool thing that you could ever have! Dude, embrace the shit out of this!’"

Glazer, wearing an AQUAMAN shirt, which is actually his wardrobe for the scene being filmed on this day (the first day that Billy Batson comes to his new foster home) has an interesting take on how he feels about comic book films now, relating it directly to Comic-Con. "Well, it’s kind of like going to Comic-Con, let’s say, and then being an attraction at Comic-Con. It’s kind of like that. Like going to Comic-Con and being like, ‘Wow! These people are awesome!’ and then being those people that people say are awesome. One of my greatest dreams is to be in a superhero movie, especially DC because I grew up with DC. And it’s a dream come true. Even though I’m not Shazam, it’s a dream. It’s really cool. I’m livin’ it, so I’m really grateful."

Asher Angel, who plays young Billy Batson, is another integral part of SHAZAM! as he's the very alter ego of Zachary Levi's character, but in the form of a 14-year-old boy (or vice versa, depending on how you want to look at it). Angel says that finding that balance for both he and Levi was a challenge. "Yes, you know it can be really hard when you're really adult and you have to play a kid. And I think for us we really just have to have this really good bond and just be like best friends! I've gotten to know Zach really, really well. He's just this really goofy, energetic guy and I just love him so much, and I think that really helps."

Angel, who was thrilled when he found out that he won the role of Batson (in an airport bathroom, no less) and says he immediately immersed himself in the character, jumping straight to Geoff Johns' New 52 books. "I would say that's really it. Immediately when I got the part I went to the comic store with my dad and did all this research on Billy and his character because this is huge. It's life changing to me and I just wanted to get it exactly perfect." For his part, Angel seems to have gained enough perspective to know how Batson would react to becoming SHAZAM! "You know, he's had a hard life. He lost his mom when he was really, really young and he's basically just been searching for her his entire life. And once he meets this Wizard [laughs] he's like, 'Who's this crazy guy? This guy's crazy.' I think deeper into the conversation with the Wizard he finally realizes, 'Woah! I actually mean something.' So I think that's really just the turning point."

SHAZAM! strikes theaters on April 5th, 2019!

FOR MORE FROM OUR SHAZAM! SET VISIT:

- Everything You Need To Know from our SHAZAM! set visit

- Zachary Levi on his role as SHAZAM! and how he got it

- Mark Strong on making Dr. Sivana an iconic villain

 

 

 

 

Source: JoBlo.com

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