Shazam! Fury of the Gods hits theaters on March 17, 2023, and the powerhouse cast includes Rachel Zegler. The 21-year-old Colombian- American has taken Hollywood by storm after making her film debut as Maria Vasquez in the 2021 remake of West Side Story.
Zegler plays Anthea in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the younger sister of Hespera (Helen Mirren) and Kalypso (Lucy Liu). Ahead of its release HOLA! USA had the opportunity to talk to the rising star, where she opened up about her time on set, her first crush, why her parents are her heroes, and more.
What a fun cast. I’m assuming you have so many fun memories when you think about your time on set, but what is one you will always hold on to?
Oh gosh. I mean there really are so many, just like you said. This is such, an amazing group of people that really meld so well together, and there’s just such a familial gel that comes with working on a movie like this. I think every second I got to spend with Jack was so wonderful. We spent a lot of time together, and I really got to know the intricacies of the way his, at the time, 17-year-old mine worked. I learned so much about teenagers that I really didn’t know when I was on that set. But he made me laugh a lot, and I got to kind of be in on the inside jokes between him and Asher, which was really great. I take that friendship with me wherever I go.
And I love that you and Jack are kind of the only ones with a real love story here. Do you remember who your first crush was?
Oh my God. Yeah, I do. It was in kindergarten, and I had a crush on a boy in kindergarten, but he even as we grew up. We went to school together until we were in the sixth or seventh grade. So I knew him for a long time, and I had a crush on him for the majority of that time, but he was in love with my best friend, and that’s okay. So I never moved in on that because, girl code.
Yeah. That’s loyalty right there, .
I actually saw him again a couple of years later. I think I had just booked West Side Story, and he gave me this huge hug, and he was very sweet about it. It was really nice.
That’s really sweet. So working alongside Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren must have been an incredible experience. Did they offer you any advice that stuck with you in terms of career or even just life?
Oh, of course. I mean they still do, even doing this press tour. There is a lot I learned, and feel like I have to write everything down that they say cause they’ve been doing this for so long and, and so effortlessly, seemingly so. But, the advice that they gave me was very genuine, and it’s hard to be a young woman in Hollywood. It’s very hard. And for me, I’ve not found it easy transitioning from my life in suburban New Jersey to then having my face on a billboard up in LA and in Times Square, having my face everywhere. They really just have given me a lot of advice about advocating for myself, standing up for myself, and staying true to myself. I’ve really appreciated that so much from them.
I love that. You are a bit of a trailblazer. I’m sure you’re used to hearing things like, “first this, first, that.” With this film, you are the second Colombian-American to be cast in a DC Universe. Tell me a little about that and what that means to you in terms of representation. You’re a bit of an inspiration.
That’s very sweet of you to say, and I thank you so much. It’s not lost on me, and I feel really blessed to be able to represent my culture, which has always been so important to me. I felt the same way about Sasha Calle, who I actually watched on Young and The Restless before she was ever Super Girl. I watched her on those telenovelas that she was on, the soap operas. She’s so talented. I adore her truly. But you know, we have ways to go with representation in Hollywood, but I do think it’s important to every now and then appreciate how far we’ve come and where we once were, and when one of us succeeds, all of us succeeds. So it’s really just championing every minority who gets to win in this industry where it’s very hard to win.
It’s very, very hard. So Anthea has this inherent ability for the powerful reality of manipulating magic. It’s really interesting because Colombia is kind of where Magical Realism was born, and I’m just curious if there are any superstitions, rituals, or fables that have been passed down from your grandma.
You know what, not many, because she tries not to be a very superstitious person. My Tia Rosalva used to bring home an evil eye bracelet for me from Barranquilla every time she went. So I had like a collection of evil eyes on, and I actually get to wear them [in the film]. I have rings and necklaces of them when I’m Ann. So that was a pretty cool nod. Obviously, it’s not only in Latin culture that the evil eye is, explored, feared, and also protected.
I love your line in the film. “The most powerful thing about you is you.” What would you consider the most powerful thing about you?
I think I’m a very resilient person who is okay with change. I’ve had a lot of change thrown at me for the past couple of years and my life looks hugely different than it did when I was, you know, just 16 years old. So it’s a lot of resilience, it’s a lot of patience, and also the power of forgiveness, and I don’t hold grudges, so I think that’s very important.
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Love that. I’m assuming this film required a lot of green screens, like you said, there are a lot of changes. How has that experience been for you? Kind of moving from this theater background to this crazy technological world.
Nothing can really prep you for it, but it did prep me for all of my other films as well. So, moving on to a movie like Snow White where you’re not actually singing to birds, you’re singing to puppets who are going to become birds. It’s one of those things where I felt well-equipped by trusting my filmmakers, and I really trust David, who just came with me with his vision and said, ‘trust me, it’s gonna look awesome. You just have to trust what I say.’ And I did. The same with Jula our DP, Peter Saffron, Marcus, and our producers. It was really, really important that you have trust because it is very different from being live on stage.
You play the younger sister in the film, and you’re a younger sister in real life. I assume your older sister isn’t trying to destroy the earth, but the relationships with Hespera and Kalypso resonate with you?
Oh, for sure. I mean, Lucy, Helen, and myself, we’re all younger sisters. We all have older sisters, so we kind of know Anthea’s dynamic and Kalypso’s dynamic, as a middle child. Helen was a middle child as well. I have an older sister, and when I was a kid, I just did what she said. If she told me to do something, I was gonna do it. She was the reason I actually spoke my first word. I was babbling as a baby does, and my sister said, ‘stop.’ And then I said, ‘stop.’ So I really did listen to her. The first thing I ever did was listen to my sister.
That’s really sweet. I’m the youngest of four, so I get it. I think this world could use real superheroes. Kalypso’s line of ‘humans are not to be trusted’ sadly kind of resonates. As a member of Gen Z, what are some things that you wish to see change? I feel like we left it a little rough for you.
Yeah, thanks for that. , you know, there’s a lack of compassion in our world today. I think compassion is a hidden gem for a lot of people, which I’ve never really understood. So compassion and empathy are really the keys to solving a lot of our world’s issues. And forgiveness and listening.
Beautiful. And who would you consider a hero in your life?
Oh gosh, I have so many. My mom and my dad are my heroes truly. My mom sacrificed a lot and, she left her job to come with me and be with me on the set of West Side story cause I was a minor when I first started working on it. So that was a really big sacrifice. Her job was really the thing that had her leaving the house and doing everything she needed to do. She was so excited to be back at work, and she left for me. Then my dad worked crazy hours to give my family a really good life and make sure that we had things to look forward to, vacations, a roof over our heads, and food on the table. So my parents are my heroes.