ZACHARY LEVI BRIMS WITH HOPE, ENTHUSIASM AS “SHAZAM!”

ZACHARY LEVI BRIMS WITH HOPE, ENTHUSIASM AS “SHAZAM!”

Zachary Levi (“Thor: The Dark World,” TV’s “Chuck,” “Heroes Reborn”) stars as the titular DC Super Hero of New Line Cinema’s origin story “SHAZAM!”

Director David F. Sandberg says Levi’s passion and youthful nature were vital in his casting.  “It was important to find someone who could feel like a kid in a grownup’s body.  I think a mistake a lot of people make when grownups try to play kids is that they just sort of lower the IQ, just play it dumber.  And kids aren’t dumber, they’re just inexperienced, and more enthusiastic about life.  And they don’t have the filter that a lot of adults have.   So that’s what we were looking for and what we absolutely found in Zachary Levi.”

In the film, streetwise 14-year-old foster kid Billy Batson (Asher Angel) can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!— courtesy of an ancient wizard.  Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers.

Levi was thrilled with the opportunity to tap into the 14-year-old in him.  “I don’t want to say I’m a man-child,” he jokes, “but I happen to be an enthusiastic, hopeful, energy-filled type of person.  So, to show up on set and get to play this character, Shazam, and fly around and fight bad guys?  I was totally in!  I was so eager to shoot every scene of this film, to be able to bring not just a really badass Super Hero to life, but one who has so much heart and charm and humor.”  

The actor surmises that growing up reading comic books and playing video games probably set him on a particular trajectory, but still, “the scene where the Wizard first transforms Billy into Shazam and he hears his voice for the first time—and it’s my voice!  I couldn’t wait for that moment, I knew it was going to be so much fun.”  Or, to act out the moments “when he sees his reflection for the first time, the whole montage of him learning what his powers are…” Levi adds.  So, really, everything.

Levi says that to play a boy in a grown man’s body was really about straddling the two sides of himself.  “Kids don’t get bogged down with life the way adults do.  They’re not dealing with 401ks or mortgages; they’re just going to school and thinking, ‘I really don’t wanna go to math right now.’  They haven’t built the catalogue of experiences in their journey to adult wisdom yet to understand why things are the way they are.  

“But even as an adult, and especially as an actor,” he continues, “I’ve always tried to maintain a lust for life, along with enthusiasm and sincerity, which I think is what most kids just exude naturally.   Up to a point, they have a purity of heart, and I think that’s what’s so great about this story and what’s unique about Billy specifically.  He is pure of heart, and that’s why the Wizard endows him with this power.  And that’s a big gamble—giving this 14-year-old kid the power of the gods.”

Along with the wisdom of Solomon, the strength of Hercules, the endurance of Atlas, the power of Zeus, the fighting abilities of Achilles, and the speed of Mercury, “He’s also got the ability to wield lightning, which is very much in tune with his Zeusitude, if I can be so bold as to call it Zeusitude.  I’m coining that phrase right now,” Levi quips.

On set, the actor had as much fun with the discovery of Shazam’s powers as the character did.  “One of the moments that just delighted me was the scene when he’s stopping the robbery, and he figures out he has bullet immunity.  Basically, he just starts giggling because the bullets literally tickle him.” Long before production began, just reading the scene, Levi confesses, “I just lost it, I started laughing out loud, legitimately LOL-ing by myself in my living room.  Because it’s the joy of that moment.  You don’t get to see Batman or Superman being tickled by their abilities.  Those guys are dudes who’ve had a lot on their shoulders for a long time, while Billy’s just stepping into this world.  You get to experience his delight, and I just loved it.”

Speaking of Shazam’s fellow Super Heroes’ attributes, director Sandberg offers, “Shazam has the best secret identity of all.  He becomes a totally different person, a young boy.  So, if he needs to blend in or get away, he can say ‘Shazam!’ and turn into Billy, just a normal kid.”

In Philippine cinemas April 3, “Shazam!” is a New Line Cinema production, and distributed by Warner Bros., a WarnerMedia Company.  Use the hashtag #SHAZAM

THRILLER “US” PUTS LUPITA NYONG’O FRONT AND CENTER OF SHOCKING TALE

THRILLER “US” PUTS LUPITA NYONG’O FRONT AND CENTER OF SHOCKING TALE

Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o stars in Universal Pictures’ new horror thriller Us, playing the film’s central character is Adelaide Wilson, a woman hiding an inexplicable childhood trauma from her past.  She discovers that her attempts to push down and suppress the incident now threatens to destroy not only herself, but her husband and her children.

For such an expansive and complex dual role, director-writer Jordan Peele and his fellow filmmakers quickly turned to Nyong’o.

“We’ve admired Lupita for so long, and as we were thinking about casting, we were shocked to realize that she’s never been the star of a film, but has instead always played these amazing supporting roles,” producer Ian Cooper says. “So we were excited at the opportunity to have her as the anchor at the center of this film. Lupita is someone audiences feel they can access and have an identification with; she’s someone you want to spend time with, but she’s also so good at turning the screw a bit and making you feel suddenly alienated from her as well. That duality in her performance was perfect for this film, on multiple levels.”

Nyong’o has vivid memories of her first meetings with Peele about the roles.

“At first, every time I spoke to Jordan about these roles, I felt like I needed to sign up for philosophy, psychology and sociology courses at a university to be able to play them,” Nyong’o says, laughing. “He’s so detailed and, in my first reading of the script, I knew there was more significance to it than I had caught onto. It wasn’t until I spoke to him that I realized how much he was investigating and trying to unpack in this one story within the horror genre.”

Nyong’o continues, “Early on, I asked Jordan which films were influencing this story or had inspired his imagination.  He created a list for me of films to go through that ranged from Dead Again to A Tale of Two SistersThe Shining, Alien, The Birds. That was very informative, not just for how he was framing this world, but also for specific moments in those films that he pays homage to in Us.”

“One of the themes Jordan said he was interested in exploring was the sense that one of America’s biggest flaws is being unable to recognize its own demons,” Nyong’o says. “That is a powerful thing to be able to do, because it’s what real self-acceptance is: the ability to recognize both your most noble and your most destructive sides.” The idea intrigued her. “We cast judgment on people,” Nyong’o says. “We decide who is good and who is bad. But the truth is that we all possess that duality. That’s a really powerful statement to make, for us to recognize that evil is not an external force but is very much part and parcel of our experience as human beings.”

Peele also gave her a warning before she agreed to take on the film. “One of the first things Jordan said to me was, ‘Lupita, you’re going to be very tired,’” she says, laughing. “And he delivered on that promise! I feel like I’ve made five films, and we’ve only just made one. This was a really intense and all-consuming film to be a part of.”

In Philippine cinemas March 20, Us is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.  Follow us on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/uipmoviesph/ ; Twitter at https://twitter.com/uipmoviesph  and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/uipmoviesph/. Use the hashtag #UsMovie.   

NEW ACTRESS LASHANA LYNCH PLAYS CAROL DANVERS’ TRUSTED ALLY IN MARVEL STUDIOS’ “CAPTAIN MARVEL”

Captain Marvel

Behind the triumph of every super hero is a trusted ally.  For Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) aka Captain Marvel, it’s the strong-minded Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), a former test fighter pilot and Carol’s best friend and loyal confidante.

Carol and Maria’s friendship is just one of the many highlights and why Filipino fans have embraced Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel.”  The film’s recent five-day opening weekend ranks as the all-time 4th biggest in Philippine history, as well as the highest first stand-alone character MCU opening weekend, and biggest March opening weekend ever.

In “Captain Marvel,” while Carol struggles with figuring out her past, a big part of it is Maria Rambeau, who has been her best friend since their days as test pilots in the Air Force.

Lashana Lynch, who makes her American feature film debut playing Maria, describes the special friendship Maria has with Carol, saying,  “It’s beautiful to see the female relationship that we have—the closeness, the sisterhood, the love—and the fact that it has been them against the world.”

The British actress was also excited when she found out that the studio was going to give Marvel’s most powerful Super Hero her chance in the limelight and tell her whole story from the beginning.

“Being a part of this is so special as its the first female superhero to have her own film,” Lynch continues. “You also see our first MCU female director. You see the first black female single mother in the MCU, female writers and female camera operators. There are just so many females everywhere that it is undeniably a feminist film. We have come so far along in the industry that it feels like there are so many people that are still a step behind, but Marvel is right where they need to be.” 

Lynch further elaborates, “In 2018 alone Marvel had a black superhero with a black family who are royalty, and it is set in Africa. And then they have a female superhero who has a female best friend with a female child. Everything is just so female heavy, and that’s one of the things I stand for. So, it was really important to me that I was a part of something that was representing that positively.”

As to her co-stars, Lynch shares “I was a big fan of Brie Larson for a long time. I think she’s amazing. Sam Jackson has been great to get to know and been very good to do this first Marvel movie with for me because he’s done so many, and he knows exactly what he’s talking about. He knows how to maneuver around this set like water. So, that’s great to capture.” 

Marvel Studios’ “Captain Marvel” is now playing Philippines theaters nationwide.  Join the conversation online and use the hashtag #CaptainMarvelPH

A NIGHTMARE COME TRUE IN JORDAN PEELE’S THRILLER “US”

Us

Before he had even finished making Get Out, his Oscar®-winning 2017 blockbuster that delved deep into issues of race and privilege in America, writer/director/producer Jordan Peele was already developing the idea for a new film, Us, that promised to be even more terrifying, and just as psychologically incisive, as the one he was making at the time.

(Check out the TV spot at https://youtu.be/1LCiRrnhaYY.)

“The idea for this movie came from a deep-seated fear in doppelgängers,” Peele says. “I love doppelgänger mythologies and the movies that have dealt with them, and I wanted to make my offering to that pantheon of ‘evil-double’ films. I was drawn to this idea that we are our own worst enemy. That’s something we all know intrinsically, but it’s a truth we tend to bury. We blame the outsider, we blame ‘the other.’ In this movie, the monster has our faces.”

Doppelgängers, or mysterious doubles of living people, are almost as old as storytelling itself. They appear in almost all folklore and mythology, a physical manifestation of a spiritual double that shares the memories, experiences and feelings of its living counterpart. These early narrative archetypes were the progenitors of so-called “evil twin” characters that have appeared in literature throughout history.

With few exceptions, it’s seldom a good sign when doppelgängers pop up in a story. “Doppelgängers have always been a source of fear,” Peele says. “It’s connected to your sense of mortality, I think. You can’t both exist, so one of you has to go. Throughout mythology, doppelgängers often represent bad omens or are a foreshadowing of one’s death. I wanted to pinpoint, and then develop the story, from that primal fear.”

That quest to pinpoint our root fears, and what they might represent, led Peele to some provocative places that not only plumbed the depths of the human psyche, but also America’s national identity. “I tend to draw inspiration from my own fear,” Peele says. “At some point I ask myself, ‘What’s the scariest thing for me, personally?’ In this case it was the idea of seeing myself. And then I think about what that’s really about, about why seeing yourself is so scary. No one really wants to look at their faults, their guilt, their demons. We all want to look elsewhere.” That inclination to project our own fears, anxieties and anger outward is also an endemic part of American culture. “This country, and how this country looks at the world, we have a fear of the outsider,” Peele says. “It’s built into the fear of everything from terrorism to immigration. One of the great core horror films that carried a powerful social message is George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead. That movie was about race even though they don’t really talk about race in the film. I wanted to follow that approach with this movie.”

In Philippine cinemas March 20, Us is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.  Follow us on Facebook athttps://www.facebook.com/uipmoviesph/ ; Twitter at https://twitter.com/uipmoviesph  and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/uipmoviesph/. Use the hashtag#UsMovie.   

CAST OF “SHAZAM!” GREETS FILIPINO FANS

Shazam

Wazzup Philippines! In a newly released video, actors Zachary Levi, Asher Angel and Jack Dylan Grazer invite Filipino fans to watch SHAZAM in cinemas nationwide starting April 3rd.  Check out the video below!

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/warnerbrosphils/videos/vl.456723344791016/1161378750708143/?type=1

YouTube:  https://youtu.be/LcT4pZpEAUA

A New Line Cinema production, “Shazam!” is distributed in the Philippines by Warner Bros., a WarnerMedia Company.  Use the hashtag #SHAZAM

About “Shazam!”

David F. Sandberg (“Annabelle: Creation”) directs New Line Cinema’s “Shazam!,” the origin story that stars Zachary Levi (TV’s “Chuck”) as the titular DC Super Hero, along with Asher Angel (TV’s “Andi Mack”) as Billy Batson, and Mark Strong (the “Kingsman” movies) in the role of Super-Villain Dr. Thaddeus Sivana. Peter Safran (upcoming “Aquaman,” “The Conjuring” and “Annabelle” films) serves as the film’s producer.

We all have a superhero inside us, it just takes a bit of magic to bring it out. In Billy Batson’s (Angel) case, by shouting out one word—SHAZAM!—this streetwise 14-year-old foster kid can turn into the adult Super Hero Shazam (Levi), courtesy of an ancient wizard.  Still a kid at heart—inside a ripped, godlike body—Shazam revels in this adult version of himself by doing what any teen would do with superpowers: have fun with them!  Can he fly?  Does he have X-ray vision? Can he shoot lightning out of his hands? Can he skip his social studies test? Shazam sets out to test the limits of his abilities with the joyful recklessness of a child. But he’ll need to master these powers quickly in order to fight the deadly forces of evil controlled by Dr. Thaddeus Sivana (Strong).

“Shazam!” also stars Jack Dylan Grazer (“IT”) as Billy’s best friend and ultimate superhero enthusiast, Freddy, part of the foster family that includes Mary, played by Grace Fulton (“Annabelle: Creation”); Darla, played by Faithe Herman (TV’s “This is Us”); Eugene, played by Ian Chen (TV’s “Fresh Off the Boat”); and Pedro, played by Jovan Armand (TV’s “Hawaii Five-O”).  Cooper Andrews (TV’s “The Walking Dead”) and Marta Milans (TV’s “Killer Women”) play foster parents Victor and Rosa Vasquez, with Oscar nominee Djimon Hounsou (“Blood Diamond”) as the Wizard.

Firmly set in the DC universe but with his own distinctly fun, family-centric tone, the screenplay is by Henry Gayden, story by Gayden and Darren Lemke. Shazam was created by Bill Parker and C.C. Beck. Christopher Godsick, Jeffrey Chernov, Dwayne Johnson, Dany Garcia and Hiram Garcia serve as executive producers.