×
Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why the cast of Shazam! looks so familiar

Admit it — the first time you saw the trailer for Shazam!, you were more than a little bit worried that DC's latest entry into the cinematic superhero landscape might've gone a little heavy on the camp and schmaltz. Trust us when we tell you that you were not alone in that worry, but if early reviews of the film are any indication, we're all in for a legit throwback-style treat with this charming, heroic tale of a 14-year-old orphan who earns the ability to transform into the titular super-powered persona — though Shazam! reportedly does play a little heavy on the schmaltz at times.

We can also tell you that Shazam's first go on the big screen is, in fact, an origin story, so don't worry too much if you're going in cold. Just make sure you're paying attention and enjoy the ride. The good news is that, even if you aren't familiar with the characters in Shazam!, you're going to see a few familiar faces among the cast members bringing them to life. Here's a quick look at where you've seen them before.

Zachary Levi - Shazam

As he's playing the supersized version of young Billy Batson (a.k.a. Shazam), Zachary Levi is essentially the face of the film, and probably the most recognizable face all around. With any luck, Shazam! will give the supremely talented Levi — who's seemed on the verge of stardom for the past decade or so — that final push onto the Hollywood A-list. If you're wondering where you've seen him on the big screen before, you should know that Shazam! is hardly Levi's first superhero flick. The actor last suited up for cosmic action as Fandral alongside his fellow Warriors Three in Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok.

It's far more likely (thanks to the ridiculous wig he wore in Thor) that you recognize Levi from his extensive work on the small screen. Most recently, he appeared in the short-lived series Heroes Reborn, and starred opposite Eva Longoria in the cheeky NBC sitcom Telenovela. He also impressed with a serious turn in Netflix's marvelous dramatic mini-series Alias Grace. Of course, Levi is probably best known for his work on NBC's awesome, oft-overlooked action/dramedy Chuck, which saw the actor bringing some serious geek energy to his charming portrayal of a directionless post-grad who inadvertently downloads a secretive government computer program into his brain. And yes, Chuck is every bit as fun as that premise makes it sound.

Asher Angel - Billy Batson

While we're hoping Shazam! is the film that finally makes a star of Zachary Levi, it may well prove the first big break for the actor portraying Billy Batson, the pint-sized version of Levi's superhero. We're guessing that most of you don't know who Asher Angel is, because he's just getting started in showbiz. Some of you may recognize the youngster for his brief appearance in the 2008 Jessica Chastain flick Jolene, or his one-off role in the short-lived spin-off series Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. A few of you might also have even seen Angel as the second lead in the 2018 ballet drama Driven to Dance. If not, those of you with the Disney Channel might just recognize Angel as the kind-hearted Jonah Beck from the family-friendly comedy Andi Mack. Whether you're familiar with Angel's work yet or not, we're fairly confident you'll be seeing his face a lot moving forward — possibly even in a Shazam! sequel?

Jack Dylan Grazer - Freddy Freeman

Though the youngster portraying Billy Batson in Shazam! is a relative newcomer, the actor playing his precocious, crutch-bound best pal Freddy Freeman has been on the Hollywood radar for few years now. His name is Jack Dylan Grazer, and he got his first taste of stardom with a brief appearance in 2015's chilling horror anthology Tales of Halloween. Grazer raised his profile in 2017 with a turn in the fantastical flick Scales: A Mermaid's Tale. He followed that family-friendly outing with a starring role in the quickly-cancelled TV series Me, Myself and I, a comedy exploring key moments in a man's life over three distinct time periods.

As you'd expect, Grazer portrayed the youngest version of said protagonist (with John Larroquette and series creator Bobby Moynihan rounding out the timeline), and it wouldn't be the last time he played the younger version of a character. The up-and-coming actor went from relative unknown to impressive newcomer almost overnight when he joined the Losers Club as the nervous, overprotected Eddie Kaspbrak in the surprisingly brilliant adaptation of Stephen King's It — a role Grazer is ready to reprise in this year's hotly-anticipated sequel. In between those horrifying blockbusters, Grazer also booked the prime gig of playing the adolescent version of Timothee Chalamet's character in the indie hit Beautiful Boy.

Adam Brody - Freddy Freeman (adult)

For those of you who remember the early 2000s, the actor playing the adult version of Freddy Freeman — a.k.a. the future Captain Marvel, Jr. (no relation) — will likely need no introduction. Adam Brody did, after all, get his first big break with a multi-episode stint as would-be rocker Dave in Gilmore Girls. His followup role as the ever-nerdy Seth Cohen on The O.C. not only helped pave the way for the current "geeks are cool" movement, it also helped the young actor achieve full-on teen heartthrob status.

To be frank, there's been a bit of that charming, chatty nerdiness in pretty much every character Brody has claimed since. That's not necessarily a bad thing, as it's lead Brody to scene-stealing appearances in movies like the Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie action flick Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Wes Craven's meta-horror sequel Scream 4, and Whit Stillman's Damsels in Distress — though horror fans will most likely recognize Brody for his disturbing/hilarious turn as an indie-rocker with some seriously ulterior motives in the bloody Diablo Cody-scripted satire Jennifer's Body.

Meagan Good - Darla Dudley (adult)

Freddy Freeman isn't the only one of Shazam's pint-sized pals to get a superhero alter ego in the movie. In fact, most of Billy's foster fam earn spots in the super-powered "Shazam Family." One of the more radical transformations is Darla Dudley, who goes from a petite grade-schooler to a power-packing grown-up in the film. The inimitable Meagan Good scored the role of Darla's adult persona, and if you're wondering where you've seen here before, well, take your pick, 'cause she's been cranking out movies on the regular since breaking into showbiz in the mid-'90s.

Of her work in that bygone decade, most will recognize Good as the confused big sis in Kasi Lemmons' coming-of-age drama Eve's Bayou. In the years since, Good has racked up memorable roles in TV shows like My Wife and Kids, Californication, and the sadly short-lived Minority Report. She's done so while also nursing a booming big screen career that's seen her appear in such varied films as You Got Served, Brick, Roll Bounce, Stomp the Yard, One Missed Call, and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues. Here's hoping Shazam! and its probable sequels help make a household name of Good.  

Djimon Hounsou - The Wizard

Shazam! finds Djimon Hounsou playing an ancient wizard who bestows upon young Billy Batson the power to transform into the the titular hero. One look at Hounsou's big screen career might have you wondering if the chiseled-in-stone actor might not have received the same sort of boost. After all, Hounsou spent the early years of his career on the catwalk, earning modeling gigs throughout Europe before becoming a backup dancer in music videos for Tina Turner ("I Don't Wanna Lose You"), En Vogue ("Hold On"), and Janet Jackson ("Love Will Never Do Without You").

If there actually is a wizard in Hounsou's past, he likely goes by the name Steven Spielberg. The iconic director used his own wizardry to pull a heartrending breakout performance from the model-turned-actor in 1997's Amistad. That film made an overnight star of Hounsou, who has gone on to appear in dozens of films (Gladiator, In America, Constantine, Blood Diamond, and Furious 7 among them), even earning a couple of Oscar nominations in the process. If you're wondering where you've seen Hounsou recently, it was likely in the MCU, where the actor portrayed the Kree warrior Korath in both Guardians of the Galaxy and this year's Captain Marvel.

Mark Strong - Dr. Thaddeus Sivana

Speaking of Shazam! actors who have superhero experience, let's not forget about the great Mark Strong. The iron-jawed actor is playing the nefarious Dr. Thaddeus Sivana in this latest DC confection, but Shazam! is far from Strong's first turn as a super-baddie. He actually played another DC villain almost a decade ago in that oh-so-forgettable Ryan Reynolds-starring Green Lantern. Of course, Strong may just have a face for villainy, because he broke bad again as the vile Frank D'Amico in 2010's Kick-Ass.

Strong also played memorable villains in 2007's sci-fi stunner Sunshine (he was Pinbacker), the big screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Stardust (he was Septimus), 2009's Sherlock Holmes (he was Lord Blackwood), and Ridley Scott's Robin Hood (he was Godfrey). In short, we can be assured that the role of villain in Shazam! is in most capable hands. If you're wondering where else you might've seen Strong's distinctive face, he's also delivered memorable appearances in the Kingsman movies, Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day, RocknRolla, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Zero Dark Thirty, and The Imitation Game — not to mention plenty of other films throughout his illustrious 30-year career.

Michelle Borth - Mary Bromfield (adult)

Of the actors playing adult, super-powered versions of younger characters in Shazam!, Michelle Borth is not one of the better-known names. That does not, however, mean you won't recognize the face of the future Mary Shazam, a.k.a. Mary Bromfield. Though Borth has yet to find a legitimate breakthrough role in Hollywood, she's been in the game for a couple of decades now.

Savvy cineastes may recognize Borth for her brief but memorable turn as Sonia in 2003's caustic John Holmes biopic Wonderland (which also featured Val Kilmer, Carrie Fisher, Kate Bosworth, Josh Lucas, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Pitt, and Scoot McNairy). Others may recognize Borth for a one-off appearance as Dean's significant other in a trippy episode of Supernatural, as Jaime in HBO's relationship drama Tell Me You Love Me, or as a romantic hopeful in the clever sci-fi romance TiMER. Odds are most of you know Borth from her 60-episode run as Catherine Rollins on Hawaii Five-O. And if you don't know Michelle Borth from any of those projects, now's as good a time as any to learn her name, because you'll be hearing it for years to come.

Grace Fulton - Mary Bromfield

Though she hasn't been acting quite as long as her counterpart Michelle Borth, Grace Fulton (who portrays the younger version of Mary Bromfield in Shazam!) is likely to seem familiar to quite a few viewers. And much like her co-star Jack Dylan Grazer, Shazam! will not be the first time Fulton has played the young version of an older character.

In fact, one of Fulton's biggest early roles came as the adolescent version of ill-fated Hollywood starlet Natalie Wood in the 2004 TV movie The Mystery of Natalie Wood. She followed that role with a recurring gig as the younger version of Jennifer Love Hewitt's Melinda Gordon in The Ghost Whisperer. From there, Fulton he delivered a memorable one-off turn on Bones, then booked a multi-episode gig as the teenage counterpart to Madeleine Stowe's matriarch on ABC's Revenge. Of course, most viewers will recognize Fulton as one the eldest of the tormented orphans in 2017's chilling addition to the Conjuring-verse, Annabelle: Creation.  

Ross Butler - Eugene Choi (adult)

Just a few years ago, most viewers would not have been able to pick actor Ross Butler out of a lineup — even if his 6'2" frame unquestionably set him apart from most of his peers. While viewers still may not have Butler's name memorized, it's a safe bet they'll recognize his face from one of several notable small screen appearances over the past few years. The actor first started turning heads in in 2015 when he appeared opposite Zendaya in Disney Channel's action comedy K.C. Undercover. He followed that role with minor but memorable turn in MTV's adaptation of '80s fave Teen Wolf.

That same year, Butler booked one of his highest-profile gigs when he claimed the role of tough-guy jock Reggie Mantle in The CW's surprise hit Riverdale. With an obvious penchant for teen drama, Butler again played a tough-guy jock with a conscience in Netflix's teen suicide drama 13 Reasons Why. Though he's yet to find his breakout role, Ross Butler is very much a star on the rise, and there's little doubt that his work as the adult version of Eugene Choi (the brains of the Shazam Family) will set that star a little bit higher.

Marta Milans & Cooper Andrews - Rosa and Victor Vasquez

As with most superhero origin tales, parental figures feature prominently in Shazam! Comic book movies often take this opportunity to cast legendary A-listers — think Marlon Brando in Superman or Nicole Kidman in Aquaman. As the young hero-to-be in Shazam! is trying to make it through the foster care system, you can imagine his "parents" might serve as unique entries in this cinematic tradition. The filmmakers behind Shazam! clearly saw that need for the unique, foregoing established celebrities in favor of casting a couple of up-and-comers in the key roles of Billy Batson's foster parents, Rosa and Victor Vasquez.

Now, you may or may not recognize the actor playing the matriarch of the Shazam Fam. The Spanish-born Marta Milans hasn't been making movies stateside for very long, but fans of Ned Benson's compelling cinematic experiment The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby should certainly recognize Milans from the Him and Them iterations of that film. As for Cooper Andrews, well, his big smiling face will be most familiar to fans of The Walking Dead. For those who jumped ship prior to Andrews's season 7 debut as the Kingdom's Jerry, it's also possible you'll recognize him as Mutiny gamer/programmer Yo-Yo from AMC's brilliant tech drama Halt and Catch Fire, or from his work in the perfectly pulpy 2018 actioner Den of Thieves.  

John Glover - Dr. Sivana's Father

Speaking of important patriarchs, the actor playing the father of Shazam! baddie Dr. Sivana will need no introduction to fans of the superhero genre — the DC Universe in particular. The actor's name is John Glover, known for his giddily wicked work as Lionel Luther (Lex's nefarious poppa) on the long-running "Superman in high school" drama Smallville. In addition to his voice work as the Riddler in Batman: The Animated Series, fans of the Dark Knight should also recall Glover's face for his appearance as the mad scientist Dr. Jason Woodrue in 1997's Batman & Robin. Love it or hate it, Glover's maniacally over-the-top performance was unquestionably one of the best parts of Joel Schumacher's controversial farce.

If you managed to miss Glover in those super-powered flicks, you'll probably still recognize his face. He's a beloved character actor who's been working steadily in showbiz since the '70s. Among Glover's more memorable roles are appearances in the Oscar-winning dramedy Annie Hall, not to mention scene-stealing work opposite Bill Murray in 1988's Scrooged and a more than memorable turn as the head of the Clamp Cable Network in the cult classic Gremlins 2: The New Batch. There's a dozen other roles worth mentioning (see John Carpenter's unheralded masterpiece In the Mouth of Madness), but all we really want to say about John Glover is that he's one of those actors who makes us smile the second he turns up on screen. Get ready to grin when he turns up in Shazam!