Actor Zachary Levi says he underwent physical transformation for Shazam!, but not because he was asked to by the makers of the superhero movie.
"I'm really grateful that nobody at Warner Bros., DC, New Line said, 'You've got to be in a certain shape to do this', as far as physical appearance is concerned. But they did say they wanted to make sure that I could physically do all the things that they were going to need me to do, to which I was like, 'Yeah, yeah, me too'," Levi said in a statement.
"But beyond that, I also wanted to look as much the part as I could for just my own confidence and my own kind of journey as a man, and as an actor filling the shoes of this character. I wanted to go and have a transformation," he added.
The actor said he has been "in the gym basically six days a week for certainly the last year".
"Maybe even a little bit longer, 14 months or so, eating thousands and thousands of calories a day. That's actually the hardest part of it. The gym I'm addicted to and I love, and I can't wait to get to the gym every day. I just feel that even from a mental health perspective, it's so healthy for you," he added.
Levi said he is "stronger and healthier" than he has ever been in his life.
"Lifting more and more, and getting more and more definition in my body. Going to the gym literally releases so many healthy endorphins and makes your head and your heart feel so much better. The entire transformation has been really awesome, and I keep going," he said.
"I probably weigh about 220 pounds now, and I was 200 pounds when I started, so I put on about 20 pounds. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I always believed that I was going to get a job one day and they were going to pay me to get into the best shape of my life."
Set firmly in the DC universe with his own distinctly fun, family-centric tone, the superhero film is a story of wish fulfilment. Teen orphan Billy Batson (Asher Angel) is granted the ability by an ancient wizard to transform into a super-powered adult with strength, invincibility, flight and other powers - all by saying the wizard's name: Shazam.
In Billy Batson's case, by shouting out one word "Shazam", the streetwise 14-year-old foster child can turn into the adult superhero Shazam (Levi). The Warner Bros Pictures project released in India on Friday.
When Zachary was asked if he could say a magic word in your real life, what would he want to happen, he said, "If I could say a magic word and anything could happen, I would say a magic word and we would legitimately be at peace as human beings and we would feel love and empathy for one another all the way around the world."
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