Out of all of the stars I met while in Hollywood, the one I was most excited to met was Zachary Levi who plays Fandral in Thor: The Dark World. Formerly the lead of one of my favorite shows, Chuck, and the voice of Flynn Rider in Tangled, he seemed like he would be a down-to-earth guy — you know the kind you could just hang out with. I am happy to report that this impression prevailed when we met him. A boisterous laugh and welcoming personality made him a genuine treat to meet.
So what did I ask him? I asked him about being a badass (below). 🙂
After the movie, I caught up with him again in the lobby of the theater and he graciously granted my request for a quick photo. As he did during our interview, he thanked me for my time. Humble, genuine and funny. That was the lasting impression Zac left with me.
A little background about the role of Fandral. Zac was originally supposed to play the role in the first Thor, but filming his series Chuck got in the way, so Josh Dallas was cast in the role. When it came time to film Thor: The Dark World, Josh’s TV show Once Upon A Time got in the way of filming. So Zac was asked to step into the role.
After watching the movie, I was surprised that I would have never realized that Zac was Fandral — he looks so different as a blonde. But knowing that it is him, I got an extra chuckle at his funny one-liners.
Q : We’re you nervous about taking this role and being apart of this huge franchise?
Zachary Levi : I was nervous about coming in and having any ill-will if there was going to be any from any of the rest of the cast, knowing that Josh had played Fandral in the first film. Some of the cast knew, I mean, Tom knew, and I think and Jamie did. I’ve known Jamie for a while, ah, because I was originally going to be Fandral and then Chuck got in the way and I wasn’t able to do it. And then Josh was able to play the role and did a fantastic job.
But not everybody knew that. And so I didn’t want to feel like the guy who’s coming in and like taking somebody else’s job away. But his role on Once Upon a Time conflicted, so that happened to me and that happened to him and came back around. But that was the only thing I was kind of nervous about. Being apart of the Marvel Universe is nothing to be nervous about. You should just celebrate that. Like you get to be apart of a, this incredible comic book lineage and family and universe that they’ve built, which is incredible.
And then one of the first days on set Tom gave me a big hug and said, “Welcome, glad you were finally able to come and do this.” I felt that love from everybody, so no I wasn’t nervous beyond that.
Q : We’re you a fan of the comics before this?
Zachary Levi : Absolutely. I was really big into X-Men, the whole kind of mutant category, like X-Men, X-Factor and X-Force, New Mutants, all that kind of stuff I really, really loved. Even Spider-Man, Iron Man to an extent and Captain America. The mutants were always to me the most relatable. Because you felt like as a kid, you thought, well maybe I have that in me it just hasn’t manifested yet. You know what I mean? Like I can get to a place and eventually I’ll realize, I am super human and this’ll be great.
Thor is a very unique Marvel character, he’s actually unique because he’s not somebody who was irregular guy who was thrust into extraordinary situations. He’s a God. And how do you relate to that guy? And I think Marvel’s done a very good job in trying to, how do you bring down a God? How do you bring your God to Earth and have relatable to human beings? And they’ve done a great job by bringing Jane into that in the first movie. And that he falls for a human and that he was able to kind of realize what it is to be human through her, a little bit. And the other humans that he interacts with and encounters in the first movie and that just continues through the Avengers and the second movie.
So I think kudos to Marvel understanding that he’s a difficult character to relate with on the surface. He’s not a human being. Almost every other Marvel character is a human being.
Q : So how was it performing the Tangled song at the Oscars?
Zachary Levi : The most nerve-racking experience of my life. I’m surprised I didn’t wet myself at any point during that. It was, it was a dream come true, but a dream that I didn’t even realize that I had until it was happening. I’ve dreamed about performing on Broadway, and now I’ve finally gotten to do that now, which is incredible and I’m so incredibly blessed to have that opportunity in my life. I’ve been so blessed on every level.
Literally since I was a little kid, all I wanted to do was entertain people and do film, television and theater at the highest level and God continues to go, here you go, here you go, here you go, here you go. And I know that doesn’t happen for most people in the world, so I don’t take that lightly.
But don’t think most people sit around as a kid, or even as an adult going, you know what I really dream about doing is singing at the Oscars, it’s such a weird niche little thing. And then I got to do it, and I was like, oh my God, not only am I doing something that very few people get to do, I’m doing something that very few people even think about ever doing in their life. And it’s monumental, you’re doing it in front of the largest audience on, that ever see anything televised. And thank God nobody told me that. My publicist had the presence of mind to not tell me that a billion people were going to be watching that particular telecast worldwide. It was nerve-racking enough.
And you know what we got through it. I look over at Mandy Moore and I wink at her and smile at her like, hey we did it, we made it through it. It wasn’t any crazy, crazy mess ups or anything. Although I didn’t feel great about it until later when I watched. And I was like, you know what that was pretty good.
Q : So coming from Chuck and Flynn. What’s it like to now play such a badass?
Zachary Levi : Ah, badass is what it feels like. I got to do some really, really fun stuff as Chuck. And kissed a lot of beautiful women. And I had some great fight scenes and all that stuff, but I’m already a thin, lankier, limb, limber guy. So the difference between me and a Jason Statham is very evident. Hey, he’s like a world-class athlete who also knows what, martial arts, right?
And he’s about a foot shorter than me and stocky,so when he throws a punch it’s snappy. It’s real, real snappy. And when I was Chuck and, you know, with nerdy and floppy hair whatever I’m doing, even when I learn kung fu, it’s the nerdy version of Kung fu. It’s not the coolest version of Kung fu. But still very fun to do. So I got a tasted of that and I got it on a pretty regular basis, because we did a lot of fights. The stuff I love doing the most on Chuck was not even the fights as mush as just the stunts.
I loved running and jumping over things, and swinging on things, and hanging on things, and being dangled off ten story balcony with me and Adam as we then begin to fall into a pool.
To get to be a guy who is definitively a badass is just fun. And then he’s blonde and British, British Asgardean, whatever that is.
You know I’ve had some people Tweet me internationally where the movie’s now already been released and I’ve seen some Tweets like, I didn’t know it was you until the credits. “And I was like, oh my God, that was the guy who played Chuck.” And to me, that’s the greatest thing I could ever hear. I think any actor hopes that your performance and your look and whatever you do is so transcendent that people don’t know that it’s you, they’re just lost in whatever the character is until the end. Even with Tangled, although it’s a lot easier to not know whose doing something in an animated movie, but a lot of friends didn’t know I did Tangled until it got to the end of the movie. And they’re like, “Wow that’s Zac, Zac did that voice. So to play Fandral is a real treat.
It’s very different. I really hope I get to do it again, I hope I get to play more roles like that.
Q : Do you have to do any extra training to get you more in shape for this role?
Zachary Levi : No, what’s interesting is that I was on like a really strict workout regimen until I got to London. And then I tried on my wardrobe for the first time and I realized nobody will ever be able to tell whether I’m ripped or not. I thought they would, I thought, oh, we’re doing a superhero movie. But I am covered, you’ll see. I got a big old collar and you don’t see any skin other than my face. I’m even wearing gloves, so you don’t even see my finger. So the whole point of working out for the purposes of aesthetic was like, well I don’t really need to do that.
Then once I learned my fight choreography I realized that I was more than capable of doing that in my physical state. So then my training just became drinking beers and eating chips.
Thor: The Dark World is now in theaters.