Zachary Levi Originally Thought He Would’ve Lost ‘Shazam’ to John Cena

John Cena has been making headlines starring in his new hit series Peacemaker. The wrestler turned actor has been getting almost unanimous acclaim as a welcome addition to the DC universe. But before he was Peacemaker, John Cena had his sights set on Shazam. And at one point, Zachary Levi thought that the main character was Cena’s to take.

John Cena auditioned for several superhero characters before ‘Peacemaker’

John Cena smirking
John Cena | Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Cena’s transition into the entertainment industry wasn’t an easy one, especially when it came to superhero properties. On the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Cena confided that he’d been turned down for several superhero characters.

“I can’t tell you how many superhero roles I’ve been rejected for. Shazam is certainly one. There was a brief try at the Deadpool universe, rejection,” Cena shared, citing that he lost the role to Josh Brolin.

But Shazam was the film he was truly invested in, as he felt he was a great fit for the part.

“I think like a child, so Shazam was super interesting to me,” Cena said. “And when I read the script, a lot of times, like… this is the thing, I don’t just chase ‘I want to do this,’ I always have to read it.”

Fortunately for Cena, the actor was able to get the role by accident.

“And the crazy thing was, I wasn’t first on the list for Peacemaker. James [Gunn] had a long list, and it happened by accident, too. He’s like, ‘Hey, I’m in Atlanta, I’d just love to come and talk to you for a second,’” Cena shared.

He’d been rejected so many times that Cena expected another rejection from Gunn. But Gunn had different plans for him.

“’I think you should do it,’” Gunn told Cena about the Peacemaker character. “So I’m not rejected? They usually say, like, ‘Hey, love you man, but we’re just going in another direction.’”

Zachary Levi thought he lost ‘Shazam’ to John Cena

Zachary Levi may have taken the role from John Cena, but at one point even Levi thought Cena was a shoo-in for Shazam. In an interview on The Late Late Show with James Corden, Levi revealed he wasn’t even the film’s first choice.

“I’m still shocked that I got the job honestly,” Levi said. “I knew that The Rock was playing Black Adam, who in the comic books is basically like the twin of Shazam. Like the bizarro version. I was like, ‘I’m not getting this job. I’m not the twin of The Rock.’ I thought this was a John Cena thing.”

But Levi thought his personality was one of the things that secured him the role.

“Fortunately, I was just an adult that never grew up inside, so they thought I was their man. And I’m really hoping they don’t change their mind for the sequel,” he said.

How John Cena believes James Gunn is similar to Vince McMahon

On the surface, James Gunn and Vince McMahon may not seem to have a lot in common. Gunn is one of Hollywood’s most prolific writers and directors. Meanwhile, Vince McMahon is the business mind behind the WWE. But according to Cena who’s worked under them both, there’s one thing that links both Gunn and McMahon together.

“He [James Gunn] very much reminds me of Vince McMahon,” Cena further told Happy Sad Confused. “Vince McMahon has these little moments where it’s like a small nugget of wisdom that never leaves you, and you always remember it. And James has bestowed 10 or more of those on me to make me a better professional.”

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