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Drake Bell Starred In Superhero Movie Thanks To TLOU Creator Craig Mazin's Kids

Craig Mazin may be best known these days for his work on serious dramas like "Chernobyl" and "The Last of Us." However, he came from very different roots, mostly writing comedies, including a couple of "Scary Movie" installments and 2008's "Superhero Movie."

Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe changed the film landscape, "Superhero Movie" came out to lampoon what people knew of comic book flicks up until that point. It draws direct inspiration from Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy as well as the "X-Men" films. And at the center of the movie is Rick Riker (Drake Bell), who takes on the superhero persona of Dragonfly and finds himself in every superpowered cliche possible. 

Bell was already well-known for his work in Nickelodeon's "Drake & Josh," and it was his role there that Mazin (or rather Mazin's kids) thought he'd be perfect for the role. As Bell told MovieWeb.com, "The writer and producer Craig (Mazin) and David Zucker, they have kids, who were avid viewers of Drake & Josh. I think they were looking for a kid for this part and they were looking for somebody who could play that superhero character but could also be a bumbling idiot when he's not in the costume. They just came to me because they liked Drake & Josh. It's very physical, a lot like the stuff we do on Drake & Josh." The kids obviously knew a funny guy when they saw him, and Bell was more than happy to act alongside some comedy giants.

Drake Bell grew up adoring Leslie Nielsen

Seeing how "Superhero Movie" was PG-13, there were definitely some jokes in there that younger viewers of "Drake & Josh" maybe wouldn't understand. But Bell was more than happy to show off his comedic chops and do something that was for a slightly different demographic. He went on to say, "It's still very in the vein of that younger era, but it's not kidsy. It's still a youthful movie though."

The movie also gave Bell an opportunity to work next to some heavy hitters in the comedy world. Kevin Hart (admittedly less famous in 2008) plays his best friend, Trey. And the legendary Leslie Nielsen of "Airplane!" fame plays his Uncle Albert. Nielsen's no stranger to the parody film, and Bell was delighted to share the screen with him, saying, "It's great because I grew up on Airplane! and The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad and that kind of humor, and Top Secret! and all that stuff, so that's what I love. But, to actually be able to do this with Leslie Nielsen, I'm not just doing a spoof movie, I'm actually running dialogue with the king of it."

Bell was also a fan of Craig Mazin and David Zucker, who at that point, were mostly known for their comedy work. He said, "Having David Zucker and Craig Mazin is awesome. To have Zucker there, laughing at you it's just like, 'What? I grew up on all the crap you wrote, man!' So it's a trip." Thanks to "Superhero Movie," it's a lot easier to play Six Degrees of Separation with Drake Bell and anyone in "The Last of Us" cast.