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Set Visit Report: Asher Angel On Playing Billy Batson in Shazam!

Shazam! will debut in theaters on April 5, 2019.

Best known for his role as Jonah Beck in Disney Channel’s Andi Mack, Asher Angel is set to star in the comic book film adaptation of Shazam! film as Billy Batson, with Zachary Levi taking on the titular hero and his alter ego.

In the most recent version of the Shazam story from DC, which the film appears to be following, the Wizard (sometimes also referred to as Shazam, later named Mamaragan) is an ancient being and the last surviving member of a council of wizards who must find a champion to battle the evil Black Adam, eventually choosing Billy.

David F. Sandberg is directing for New Line Cinema. Mark Strong (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, SpySherlock Holmes) will play the villain, Doctor Sivana. Other cast members include Jack Dylan Grazer, Grace Fulton, Ian Chen and Jovan Armand as Billy’s friends that live in a group home with him. 

Created in 1939 by artist C. C. Beck and writer Bill Parker, Shazam first appeared in Fawcett Comics’ Whiz Comics #2. By saying the world “Shazam,” teenager Billy Batson was transformed into the “world’s mightiest mortal” and given extraordinary abilities by ancient gods.

While visiting the set during production, Blackfilm.com, along with other journalists, spoke with Angel about his role and what he could talk about at the time.

Shazam! will debut in theaters on April 5, 2019.

Carolyn: Since you started out acting in theatre, which play is your favorite?

Asher Angel: My favorite theatre play…man that’s hard, can I say my top two?

Carolyn: Top two is fine.

Asher: Top two would be ‘Mary Poppins’, ‘Mary Poppins’ was a great one but I think I’m going to have to go with my first one ‘Oliver’. ‘Oliver’ was really, really fun. I did it [at] the symphony which was cool.

Carolyn: Seeing that Oliver is one of your favorite plays, do you think there’s a similarity to Oliver and the characters in Oliver because he has his friends around him, and there’s a similarity with Shazam and Billy’s background not being the best and coming from hardship and connecting with friends? Could you see it as you doing the theatre production just on a grander scale?

Asher: Yeah! he lost his mom and he didn’t know where to live until finally, someone took him in which was Fagin, and it kind of is the same thing. I definitely do think it can be different as well, in theatre you know you’re performing in front of a live audience. You have to be on point, you have to be able to tell a story and in film, you get multiple takes but you still have to give it your all.

I think it’s kind of cool you know? To transition from theatre to actually get to film which I think can actually be really hard for some people. I remember before, when I wanted to come out to L.A., I had an acting coach and every time I said a line it would sound exactly like theatre you know, and just always like [speaking in English accent “Where’s mother, where did she go?”. “Yeah buddy, that’s a little too theatre-ish for us.”, so I remember working really hard with my acting coach just to dial it in, to get away from that for a second just to drop it. I think it’s just amazing to transition and I think it could’ve been a lot harder for me and I’m just glad I practiced and got better. 

Carolyn: For Billy when he gets the powers of Shazam, one thing I kept sticking on was Solomon, he has the wisdom of Solomon and the wisdom that he gains stays with Billy instead of going away when Shazam does. How do you play that gradual incline in intelligence?

Asher: It’s really, it’s kind of hard I would say. For Zac and I, we’re the same character and I think as Billy starts at the beginning not being able to open up and he’s just locked in. He just doesn’t really trust anyone. Everyone has done him wrong and as it goes through the movie, when he meets the foster family Billy actually comes out. It’s actually like “Wow, so this is the kid, this is actually the real Billy and someone else was really just inside of him”. I think that’s really cool how someone throughout the movie actually changes.

Carolyn: He doesn’t just get wisdom in knowledge, he gets emotional intelligence too.

Asher: Oh yeah, he’s an adult and he can do adult things I guess.

Carolyn: I know some actor say that sometimes it’s weird to see themselves on screen, do you have that same reaction?

Asher: Not at all actually, not at all [laughs] when I’m watching myself I just think “Why would I say that line like that?”, you know? I just think of things I could’ve done differently, but even just watching myself I’m fine with it. Most of my other acting friends as like “Why do you watch yourself? That’s so weird.”, like what’s weird about it? You’re watching your work though, I think it’s cool and you should be able to enjoy it.

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