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Set Visit: Mark Strong on playing a supervillain, Sinestro & more in Shazam!

"...I’m hoping to make Sivana really iconic."

Mark Strong is no stranger to playing villains, so when he was cast to play Dr. Thaddeus Sivana it seemed like an easy fit. It's also not the first time Strong has dipped his toe in the DC pond, having played Sinestro in the superhero-movie-we-do-not-speak-of GREEN LANTERN. Beyond that, Strong was the key villain in JOHN CARTER, ROBIN HOOD, KICK-ASS and SUNSHINE, amongst others. For Dr. Sivana, however, Strong is looking forward to leaving behind an "iconic" performance that's fitting of the material. Dr. Sivana was created to be the arch-nemesis of SHAZAM!, typically portrayed as an evil, maniacal scientist in a white labcoat and glasses, but has since evolved into a man of stronger stature and appearance, particularly in Geoff Johns' New 52 incarnation, which serves, by design at least, as the inspiration for this version of the character, while still addressing his early Fawcett Comics roots. Strong spoke to us on the set of SHAZAM! back in April and was enthusiastic about what the film brought to the table and to be involved in yet another comic-book property.

Of course, we couldn't NOT ask Strong about his feelings on where GREEN LANTERN left Sinestro (c'mon, most of us are comic nerds anyway) and where that character fits in the grand scheme of the DCEU now. "It is part of the DCEU," says Strong. "But, you know, my version of Sinestro I think is going to be rebooted, as they say, no doubt when the new Green Lantern comes out, which I think they’re doing. But as I said and I mean it, I felt really-it was a little interrupted because Sinestro was gonna go into the second movie and become the yellow Sinestro that we know and love and cause havoc. It got cut short by the fact that they never made a second movie of that particular incarnation of Green Lantern and Sinestro. But, thankfully, I’ve now got a chance to maybe exercise my evil credentials with Doctor Sivana."

Having played so many villains before, Strong felt there was something unique that stood out about Dr. Sivana that drove him to take the part. "I think because he is a proper-in the New 52 incarnation that Geoff’s [Johns] done-he is a proper supervillain.  He gets to fly, he can create electric fields in his hands and fire electricity...So, it’s a good, proper supervillain." But, does that mean he's a properly developed one? Strong seems to think so, saying, "What I love about this movie and the way they’ve written it is there is a reason he is how he is. Often villains can be painted in broad strokes. They are evil, and that’s it. But, we get to see him young, we get to see a scene in which he’s bullied not only by his older brother, but by his family and is misunderstood as a young boy." Strong goes on to explain the symbolic search for a "true" family between both Dr. Sivana and Billy Batson with a few nods to the broader story we can't quite talk about yet. However, he does elaborate on Dr. Sivana's frustration over who Shazam! is and why he was chosen.

"He can’t understand. He can’t understand that the Wizard has chosen this boy as his champion. Because there was the opportunity there that he could be the champion of good but was rejected because he was considered not to be worthy. Yet, the wizard’s chosen a boy and he realizes that obviously that boy manifests himself into the man, the Zachary version of Shazam, and to him it’s a source of total incomprehension why this boy should have been chosen over him. But, it just justifies him in his quest to unify the good force and the evil force and be in control of all of it," says Strong. While we know that BLACK ADAM eventually became another bane for SHAZAM!, what is it about Dr. Sivana that makes him such a strong villain for the first film? "I think you can’t really question the original comic books," says Strong. "If they felt that he was a worthy nemesis and that there was enough to do with him to enable him to create constant complications for Shazam, maybe that’s why there aren’t other villains in that universe or there aren’t many anyway because he’s really quite a good foil, and they do always say that a hero is only as good as his villain so I’m hoping to make Sivana really iconic."

In terms of how physical Strong gets in the film with SHAZAM! (and we've certainly seen that they will throw down in the trailers thus far), Strong was very pleased that he was able to not simply rely on "shooting electricity at each other" but also getting down and dirty with some good ol' fisticuffs. "It was very early on in shooting for me and I love the fact that we were literally crashing through mirrors, crashing through walls into toy stores-he [Shazam] was throwing toys at me and flying out of windows. I mean the physicality-I love, because there’s the possibility obviously because the powers they posses they could end up standing at either end of the room and just fire electricity at each other. I’m not saying that they don’t do that, but it’s wonderful that we get close up and dirty as well and there is some proper hand-to-hand combat as well. So, those scenes I love very much."

While Strong continues to act in all manner of projects, from film to TV to stage, he views the popularity of the comic book genre as a good thing that offers a number of positive benefits that we can all reap, including as an actor. "When I started acting these big comic book movies didn’t really exist," said Strong. "They were extremely rare if they did. So now that they’ve become the staple fare of cinema, and I think what happened is... because the technology has advanced so far, and I’m sure you’ve all heard this before, and because television is now having its golden age, so a lot of the writers of drama have moved from film to TV, which leaves the kind of cinema to take care of these big spectacles and it just so happens comic book movies are spectacles, especially with the advent of the technology that is available nowadays. So it’s a good thing because I think everything is informing everything else. You know as a Thor comes out that now has a sense of humor... or should I say Guardians of the Galaxy comes out that has a sense of humor that now infuses Thor which gives that a bit sense of humor. Now we’ve moved into the world of Black Panther and now we’ve got a female superhero in Wonder Woman. It’s as if everything is pushing the genre onwards, and that I think can only be a good thing. But, to answer as an actor, it’s really exciting. I mean the truth is if you shoot a film that is more of a drama it tends to be more dialogue scenes and less CGI heavy. You do a film like this... it’s incremental moments that then get put together in the edit, so the kind of work you’re doing in either of those worlds is very different but the payoff for movies like this is that I can’t wait for the day I sit down and I watch it on the big screen."

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!

- David Sandberg, Jack Dylan Glazer and Asher Angel on SHAZAM!

Source: JoBlo.com

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