Perhaps it’s fate that Rachel Zegler starred in Shazam! Fury of the gods. The DC superhero franchise focuses on teenagers who, in one word, can instantly transform into adult superheroes with amazing abilities. And although the 21-year-old “West Side Story” star needed more than one magic phrase to get several blockbuster projects over the past few years, her Hollywood rise has been just as rapid.
“I really found myself connected to Zachary Levy trying to be his age, you know what I mean?” — she tells NME, detailing her reaction to Shazam 2019!. “When you work in this industry and adhere to a certain standard, it can often seem that you are trying to catch up with the version of yourself that everyone has projected on you. I constantly feel like I’m chasing the girl on the cover of Elle magazine, and not the one I look at in the mirror every morning. It can be very difficult. But at the same time, it’s cool to have the desire to be yourself.”
Zegler is very good at being himself. Warm, playful and a little nerdy, she’s just as excited to discuss the latest season of Legacy: “I don’t like the endings of all my favorite series, but I’ve seen some of my favorite series get not so good with the increase in the number of seasons. so I feel like they’re probably doing a very smart thing,” as she recently visited Disneyland Paris.
She also plays other people very well, and Anthea, her character in The Rage of the Gods, contains a lot. Although she is first introduced as a mysterious new girl in high school, she is also a 6,000-year-old goddess and one-third of Atlas’ Daughters, along with Helen Mirren and Lucy Liu.
Shazam! Directed by David F. Sandberg didn’t know who Zegler was when she auditioned—”West Side Story” hadn’t been released yet—but he was quickly won over by her “charming” character. “We read the chemistry between her and Jack [Dylan] Grazer,” he tells NME. “We couldn’t do it in person because it was still COVID, so we did it through Zoom. And we were charmed. She has this stellar quality.”
“I was kind of a bridge between so many different elements of our cast both on and off screen,” Zegler says of the experience. “I had to spend time in the real world as a high school student in my normal clothes with Jack and all the kids. I also wear this goddess costume and have lunch with Helen and Lucy in the afternoon.”
A cursory glance at Zegler’s phone contacts reveals even more star names, such as Steven Spielberg, Carol Lawrence—the original Maria from “West Side Story” on Broadway—and the “This Is Us” heartthrob Milo Ventimiglia, “who was one of my childhood hobbies, which for me is kind of crazy.” However, there are no signs of fame fatigue. “I’ve never seen her sad,” Sandberg says. “She’s always so happy. It feels like she values her life and what she has to do so much. I don’t think she’ll ever be a diva. I don’t think it’s her.”
Could there have been more Shazam! in Zegler’s future? Although DC is currently on track for a soft reboot with James Gunn at the helm, Sandberg recently tweeted that “there’s nothing in Shazam! films that contradict DC’s future plans.” And Levi already has some ideas for a sequel. “I think it would be great to do this zombie plot that Zack is obsessed with,” says Zegler. “The Sinister Dead meet Superman and Big, which doesn’t sound like it should work, but I think it can.”
Such a genre mishmash could open the doors for musical numbers in a potential Shazam! continuation. This would certainly suit Zegler, who has been posting videos online about how she sings since she was 14. went viral. Could her own album be in the works soon? “Who knows?” says Zegler. “To be honest, I would like to write phantoms, because I consider myself more of a lyricist than anyone else. First of all, I firmly believe in words, and I would really like to write lyrics for other people.”
i love you @taylorswift13 pic.twitter.com/coJESnix6R
— rachel zegler (she/her/hers) (@rachelzegler) January 10, 2023
Sharing candid clips about yourself on the Internet is not something that many in Zegler’s place would prefer to do. But the star, who has a YouTube channel with 230,000 subscribers, which hosts 85 videos that she edited herself, considers it a necessity. “I think this piece of reality is really important,” she says. “I don’t always have good days. I am very human. Even when I’m sitting next to my two friends, Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren, I think, “What am I doing?” I want people to see what they usually miss when they see magazine covers.”
Shazam! Zegler’s musical talent hasn’t been needed yet, but her next two projects will definitely come in handy. The Hunger Games prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes” is due to be released in November, in which her character Lucy Grey Baird wins Panem’s heart when she sings during the harvest ceremony. “It’s the most natural musical moment I’ve ever had,” recalls Zegler. “The main lyric goes like this: “nothing you can take would be worth keeping.” She’s looking down the barrel of all these news cameras. It’s just an amazing, cheeky song.”
Then next year, Disney’s latest live—action remake, Snow White, comes out. If the elements of “The Hunger Games” seemed natural, Zegler says that “Snow White” was much less natural. “I was terrified, terrified, terrified, terrified,” she repeats, “because you’re playing the first part. The drawing of all the Disney princesses is taken from “Snow White” in 1937. You have so many conversations leading up to this. You’ll cut off all your hair and learn to dance with all these fake animals and things that aren’t here. It was a lot of pressure.”
With the talent she has already demonstrated, there is no limit for Zegler. Her Twitter bio, which reads, “Welcome to the Theater Gutter,” a lyric from Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1978 Evita, best sums up her worldview. “There is a song called “High Flying Adored”, which talks about how to become famous too young. And Evita in this song says: “I was called names/They are the strangest/My story is quite ordinary.” I can.”And that’s also how I feel about myself.”
“Shazam! “Fury of the Gods” is already in theaters