‘Shazam! Fury of the Gods’ Star Adam Brody Talks His Second Bite of the Superhero Apple
Adam Brody has talked at length about the one that got away, and with a Flash-led movie on the verge of release, one can only wonder how things would’ve ended up had Brody’s Barry Allen made it to the big screen in George Miller’s Justice League: Mortal. The epic superhero tale fell apart in early 2007 due to the impending writers’ strike and the loss of an Australian tax credit, and it continues to be one of Hollywood’s ultimate “what if?” stories.
So, when David F. Sandberg’s Shazam! made its way to the big screen in 2019, one of the most rewarding aspects of the film was Brody’s surprise cameo as the super-powered alter ego of Jack Dylan Grazer’s Freddy Freeman. It was not only perfect casting by virtue of the two actors’ similar wit, but it also allowed for a Justice League: Mortal reunion between Brody and D.J. Cotrona, who was slated to play Superman in Miller’s canceled film.
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With the Shazam! sequel, Fury of the Gods, now in theaters, Brody finally got the chance to spend some quality time as a superhero, but he hesitates to say that he’s truly scratched the itch from 16 years ago.
“No, probably not,” Brody tells The Hollywood Reporter with a laugh. “Well, I guess I scratched the itch. Sure. Maybe. But honestly, I would say that probably has more to do with my age than the breadth of the part itself. It was, and is, very fun and interesting to play in this space as someone who hadn’t done it before. Just the sheer scale of it is a kick, and I hope I’m not done with superhero stuff.”
Brody’s most significant scene in Fury of the Gods involves Rachel Zegler’s “Anne,” as Grazer’s Freddy tries to impress the new girl at school with an introduction to Brody’s Super Hero Freddy. During their time on set together, Zegler made a point to confess her childhood affection for Brody’s Gilmore Girls character, Dave Rygalski, who last appeared on the series when Zegler was just 2 years old. So Brody can’t help but note the way technology has introduced his work to younger generations.
“It’s obviously a nice thing when work has a nice, healthy afterlife … That’s streaming, binging and the nature of technology, and so everything is being rediscovered and binged,” Brody says. “We had Nick at Nite, and [today’s generation] has binging old series on streaming now, so I’m thankful for it.”
Below, in a recent conversation with THR, Brody also discusses the critical acclaim for his pandemic-released film The Kid Detective, before looking ahead to his upcoming reimagining of 1994’s The River Wild.
Well, we talked a few years ago about the likelihood of you coming back, and it actually happened. Did you expect it to fall apart like things often do, or were you confident this time?
I was pretty confident. They build these things to go on and multiply. So, given that the first one was received quite positively, it just made a lot of sense to me that they would do it again.
Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer) has depended on a crutch his whole life, and so he’s understandably making the most of his newly acquired powers. Thus, did his psychology of striking out on his own make perfect sense to you?
Yeah, it does. It’s a two-fold thing, and with his disability and the extra freedom that the superpowers allow him, that’s a big aspect of it. But he was also the biggest comic book fan to begin with, and that could be for a similar reason. So, out of everyone, I think he was the most excited to play in that space.
It was interesting to see you play an alpha for a change. You often play the guy who mocks alpha males. Did you appreciate that swerve as well?
Yeah, I definitely am pretty braggadocious in it, but it still feels like younger Freddy deep down. It’s such posturing that he doesn’t feel like an alpha to me, even in superhero form.
So the future of the DCU and the Shazamily is up in the air, but if this is the end, do you feel like you finally scratched that superhero itch that started all those years ago with Justice League: Mortal?
No, probably not. (Laughs.) Well, I guess I scratched the itch. Sure. Maybe. But honestly, I would say that probably has more to do with my age than the breadth of the part itself. It was, and is, very fun and interesting to play in this space as someone who hadn’t done it before. Just the sheer scale of it is a kick, and I hope I’m not done with superhero stuff. But at the same time, if my interest has waned at all, it probably has more to do with my age than it has to do with having my fill by being Freddy.
The wunderkind Rachel Zegler said that she issued a confession to you on set regarding her fondness for Gilmore Girls’ Dave Rygalski, and it dawned on me that 20 years have somehow passed since you were on that show. That means Rachel was just two years old when your last episode aired, so she probably watched it in the last decade or so. Anyway, is the intergenerational appeal of Dave, as well as [The O.C.’s] Seth Cohen, quite a thing to behold?
Yeah, it’s obviously a nice thing when work has a nice, healthy afterlife, but I think it’s just across the board. That’s streaming, binging and the nature of technology, and so everything is being rediscovered and binged. I mean, Friends is still big, and that seems to be the case for every once-hit show. But I’m curious how far back it goes. Okay, there’s Friends, and I’ve actually been taking down some Seinfeld. But does it go back into the ‘80s, the ‘70s, the ‘60s? Are people binging I Love Lucy? I don’t know. We had Nick at Nite, and [today’s generation] has binging old series on streaming now, so I’m thankful for it.
Not too long ago, I interviewed a twenty-something actor named Fivel Stewart, and she seemed somewhat familiar to me. So I found a reel of hers and up popped a clip of Seth Cohen making her cry inside his comic book shop. She was probably 9 years old.
And as odd as it sounds, that interview really made me feel the passage of time. Have you felt it as well?
Oh, very much. I have young kids, and little people grow to be full sized pretty quickly. You obviously get old in different ways after that, but that first 20 years is quite shocking. Shailene Woodley was a pre-teen on The O.C. in the very beginning, and she’s obviously a woman now, not that that’s my main marker of time. (Laughs.) It’s just another example of a child on The O.C. who is now a full-fledged adult and has been for a while. But if the question is am I feeling old, the answer is yes.
I tried to phrase it gently for both our sakes.
But I’m still at the point where it feels good. It’s not too sad yet.
Just to button up Shazam!, was that a pretty memorable day on the rooftop with Rachel, Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu?
Yeah, it reminded me of Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder’s iconic rooftop, alter ego meetup in Superman, and it was probably the one scene in both movies where I got to do the most. So it was fun just to act a bit more.
So, I just spoke to the Radio Silence guys, and I didn’t realize that you were part of the voice tribute to Wes Craven in Scream (2022). Did they pick your brain about Wes and Scream 4 on the Ready or Not set? Or did they ask you about it once they took over the franchise?
They asked once they took over the franchise, and I think my response was anticlimactic for them. I was such a peripheral part of that movie, and I briefly crossed paths with [Wes]. I obviously know he’s a legend, and deservedly so. I looked up to him and all that stuff, but I hardly feel like we collaborated. So my point is I don’t really feel like I worked with him, and I had very little to impart on [Radio Silence].
Did you send them an iPhone voice memo for that tribute?
So I owe you an apology because I got an offer to cover The Kid Detective a couple years ago, and I totally dismissed it, thinking it was some kids’ movie. But then I watched it a few months later, and I instantly regretted my earlier decision. Was that one of the most pleasant surprises of your career?
Yeah! In fact, just to be on the set was [a pleasant surprise] because for the director and myself, it was a long journey to get it made. Evan Morgan really kept the faith, and after the fourth or fifth-year mark, I kind of thought it was not going to happen. So, even being on set was surreal and very exciting. And to have it come together like we always hoped it would and really get to make it how we wanted to make it was really satisfying. And then to have people slowly but surely discover it and really respond to it was a dream.
Have you and Evan Morgan talked about doing anything else together, whether it’s in that world or something separate?
Yeah, we talked on Friday. We talk every couple weeks, trying to figure out what’s next.
Your former The O.C. co-worker Ben McKenzie is currently waging war against cryptocurrency. When you heard about that, did it align with the guy that you remember? Did it track?
Yeah, but it’s not necessarily because he was always talking monetary policy. He was, and is, very political. He was an economics major, and he also comes from a very literate family as well. So he’s a very bright, serious guy. The specifics of crypto obviously didn’t exist when we were working together, but it does track. It’s not wildly out of character to me.
So you’re part of a reimagined The River Wild?
Yeah, I feel like it was on HBO every day after school for a decade, and that’s certainly how I saw it and got to know it.
Are you the David Strathairn character? Is there that type of analogue?
There is an analogue. So, even though the characters are different, the comparison would be the Kevin Bacon character. I’m the threat. It is still a race to get to Canada in a hostage situation on a raft, but other than that, it has different characters.
And what can you tell me about the [Emmy-winning Watchmen writer] Cord Jefferson project?
I play a big-shot Hollywood producer, a slick producer who’s larger than life, I’d say. Jeffrey Wright’s character writes a book, and [my character] wants to make the book into a movie. A lot of the premise has a Producers-the-musical element to it in that Jeffrey’s character writes a book in jest and it becomes a hit. So I guess it’s different because he didn’t try to make it a bomb, but he wrote something that ultimately becomes a hit. And I just thought it was very funny. I’m also a big Jeffrey Wright fan, so I was happy to go work with him for a little bit.
Shazam: Fury of the Gods is now playing in movie theaters. This interview was edited for length and clarity.