Shazam! Fury Of The Gods: Adult Shazamily On The Lair And Their Kid Counterparts [Exclusive Interview]

The Shazamily is back and ready to fight evil. It's been several years since the last film, and we're just weeks away from the premiere of "Shazam! Fury of the Gods." The kids are growing up, but they're not adults quite yet — well, not in their house, anyway. One word turns them into their adult counterparts, and they're off to keep crime down in Philadelphia. It's not going well, though, with reports from papers and TV news anchors being really unappreciative of their powers. Not fair! Especially after they save a whole lot of people (and kittens). 

Now the Shazamily is facing a new threat in the form of goddesses, aka the Daughters of Atlas (Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu, and Rachel Zegler), who are looking for a dangerous artifact.

I recently spoke to adult cast members Ross Butler (Eugene, also played by Ian Chen), Grace Caroline Currey (who plays both versions of Mary), Adam Brody (Freddy, also played by Jack Dylan Grazer), Meagan Good (Darla, also played by Faithe Herman), and D.J. Cotrona (Pedro, also played by Jovan Armand) about working with their kid counterparts, video games in the superhero lair, exploring what's behind those doors, and the other DC project Cotrona was cast in before the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-2008 shut it down. 

Note: This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.

'It really was just about observing and then trying to recreate'

As you know, the Shazamily is a group of foster kids who change into adult forms and gain superpowers when they yell the word, "Shazam!" They're led by Billy Batson (played by Zachary Levi and Asher Angel). Each character is played by both a younger and older actor, aside from Grace Caroline Currey, who plays both. I asked the older actors how they picked up on the mannerisms of their younger selves. Cotrona explained they all hung out together, with Butler adding that he did most of that groundwork in the first movie, even hanging out at lunch with Ian Chen's entire family. Of course, Cotrona said that just observing Jovan Armand wasn't enough because he's so unlike Pedro. He explained, "Our character is shy. [Armand]'s not shy. He's very funny, very charismatic ... so for me, it was more like mannerisms, physicality. How do you sit when you think nobody's looking?"

Brody joked that he and Jack Dylan Grazer got bunk beds but added, "I love Jack. I'm still getting to know him. I learned more from watching him in the movie than I did necessarily time shadowing, hanging with him on set because, by the very nature of it, we're never in the same scene together." 

Good said of Faithe Herman: 

"Mainly, the biggest thing for me, starting with the first one, was just really watching Faithe, being on set and watching her mannerisms and watching how soft spoken she is and just how she moves and all that stuff. That only continued now with her a few years later, and the character's a little bit older and seeing how she's grown and changed in her way. So it really was just about observing and then trying to recreate that in these particular circumstances."

There is an adorable scene where the adult Darla picks up a kitten from a car that she's keeping from falling off of a bridge, completely embodying a little kid. Good told me that she has a baby kitten at home, a hairless cat she named Bam Bam.

After a recent press screening, director David F. Sandberg explained he had to pause production every time they did the changeover from young Mary to adult Mary, because while other actors could just step in and replace their counterparts, Grace Caroline Currey had to do a costume change and switch up her hair and makeup. Currey explained that the direction she received in those moments was, "Go as fast as you can, run off-set, and try not to keep everyone waiting." (Cotrona joked that they had "Grace breaks.")

'I have to say, it was the coolest set I've been on'

It seems like the gang's superhero lair — the now-decorated Rock of Eternity set from the first film — was the highlight of the set for everyone in the cast. They recreated the set at the press junket, and it was full of toys, pizza boxes, and games. Even the Seven Deadly Sins are decorated now. It's the hangout spot where Billy gives inspirational speeches (which his family mostly ignores). 

Brody, who said that Levi (aka "Zach FM") acts as a DJ on that set between takes, stole a little Tech Deck skateboard from the set for his kids and said: 

"I have to say, it was the coolest set I've been on. I'm not on that many sets that really feel otherworldly and old Hollywood and just are large in that way and manufactured. And so to be on this sort of 'Temple of Doom' type set — it was many other things besides that, it was sci-fi course. But yeah, it was a thrill, and it kind of felt like a throwback for me, who's not on that kind of stuff much."

Meanwhile, Cotrona was partial to the video games. He explained:

"The video games were all functional, so we were actively using it as a trailer, just playing video games. And we probably should have been working on our scenes and hanging out. My favorite thing was, production design did these press coverage [newspaper articles in the movie] because the Shazamily is now a superhero family that is known, and we were getting really bad press coverage. So they did all these fake articles and newspaper photos of articles about us and how we keep screwing up."

It's perfect that a bunch of kids would save their press, even though it's bad, just because they're in the papers. Currey even joked that Mary had a book on de-stressing in the lair. 

If you recall the doors in that set from the last film, you'll be seeing more of them in "Fury of the Gods." One that didn't make it in was a door that is full of water, according to Currey, and Butler said that the room in the lair has "an infinite amount of realms and doors, so just like in the comics, the possibilities, what you can do with the story if it continues, is endless." 

'It was a bummer not to get to finish it'

For D.J. Cotrona, this isn't the first experience he's had with a DC film. Back before the Writers Guild of America strike of 2007-2008, he was set to play Superman for the George Miller film "Justice League: Mortal." The film ended up being canceled, but I asked him about how far they got into production. Cotrona said: 

"I was in Australia for the handful of months as George finished coming up with the cast and got to spend a lot of amazing quality time with him, working on a very big, operatic, large-scaled superhero film in his vision. George Miller is one of the most visionary, incredible filmmakers of all time. He's one of my personal favorites. So it was a bummer not to get to finish it, but I mean, I was just so lucky to get to work with him one-on-one and learn from him."

Adam Brody was also in the cast of that doomed film; he was mean to play The Flash. Cotrona revealed that they spent a lot of time together in Australia. On whether there is anything of the film to see, he said: 

"There's some footage, there's some, there's a big airplane hangar in Wētā [Workshop] in New Zealand with all of the stuff that we had from there, collecting dust. But I'd do craft service for George Miller. I mean, I'd do his laundry ... I would do anything to work on any film he makes ... We went down so 'Fury Road' could be created. If you ask me, that's a good deal. I mean that. That's a masterpiece."

True, true. "Mad Max: Fury Road" was amazing. Still, raise your hands if you want to take a field trip to an airplane hanger in New Zealand to see what remains of this abandoned project? We can stop at Hobbiton on the way. 

'You realize the most meaningful relationships and the ones that support you the most and will always be there are your family'

The best thing about the first film is the same thing I love about this sequel: The beautiful message about family, whether it's biological or found family. Currey spoke about their love for each other and how they're working it all out: 

"It's so incredible that you've got a bunch of foster kids who they have such a tight-knit family. They have found each other, they've got the sweetest foster parents [Marta Milans and Cooper Andrews] they could ask for, and then on top of that, they all are getting these superpowers and figuring it out together. And also, I think you're seeing the development of kids as they're kind of finding themselves on their own. So there's a funny dynamic of them needing to be a team but also needing to kind of grow on their own. And Billy recognizing that and letting them go a little. Nothing like my family."

Cotrona added: 

"It's an extreme and entertaining version of what we all kind of go through. We all have families, and you get to a certain point where you kind of take them for granted, and you feel like they're in your space too much, and you want to branch out and do your own thing. Until you go out into the world and you realize the most meaningful relationships and the ones that support you the most and will always be there are your family, and you kind of come full circle."

It's very clear that some of the kids have hit the breaking away point in this movie, but it doesn't diminish the message. It makes it stronger, watching them fight against it, then realizing that family is the most important thing of all.

Good called "Fury of the Gods" the "'Big' version of superhero movies ... these are kids, and they're trying to navigate and figure it out ... I think it's got a lot of heart, too. I mean, I cried at the end." I did not expect myself to tear up at a "Shazam!" movie, and yet I did exactly that.

'I could see exploring Freddy's disability a little more...'

Freddy is going through what Cotrona mentioned above about trying to break away from his family a bit. Brody spoke about where Freddy is right now and how he's working to be himself:

"I think he's pretty secure in his family life, and I think he's been a superhero fan for forever, and he is longing to have that freedom. And he's just relishing his newfound freedom, and his newfound powers, his newfound alter ego.

I just think he, more than anyone, can't get enough of it ... he's going out on his own a lot, and Billy isn't wild about that idea and thinks they're stronger together, which they undoubtedly are, but I don't know that it's Freddy so much trying to get away from everyone else as it is — although there's a little bit of that, I think asserting his independence. But I also think he just can't get enough, and it's just in the downtime he's going out by himself.

I don't know which is the stronger draw for him. If he's trying to assert his independence more, or if it's just that he's addicted to the thrill and the rush and can't turn it off."

Brody also spoke about what he'd like to see if they get a third film. He said: 

"I could see exploring Freddy's disability a little more in the juxtaposition of his super alter ego versus his real alter ego. And I think you could dig into that but in a very fun, and funny, and thrilling way. I don't mean it to be a somber piece."

"Shazam! Fury of the Gods" will hit theaters on March 17, 2023.