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A TRIPLE THREAT is unleashed in Shazam! Fury Of The Gods in the form of the Daughters Of Atlas. Hespera, Kalypso and Anthea — Helen Mirren, Lucy Liu and Rachel Zegler — enter the DCEU as mythical antagonists hellbent on retrieving their powers from Zachary Levi’s wizard and his found family. Speaking with Empire, the actors break down their villainous team-up.
What was the key to playing the nymphdaughters of Atlas?
Helen Mirren: It’s tough when you’re playing a goddess, honestly. You have power, a visceral aura or sense of superiority, that’s for sure. Gods are supposed to know everything, but the physical complications of a human character don’t really come into it.
Lucy Liu: Within that world of fantasy we were able to still play the dynamic in a grounded way of ourselves as siblings. There’s an energy and an order to it. That’s what we played on camera, but behind the scenes, there was this crazy chemistry between us that continues on. And we are all like soulmates.
Mirren: Shazam! is all about family. That’s one of the most important driving elements and why I think people love the movies. I’m not used to being an older sister, which I was in this particular group, because I have an older sister. So I really understood the dynamic between the youngest sister [Zegler’s Anthea] and the oldest.
How did you solidify the sisterly bond? Rachel Zegler: We went shopping for Helen’s birthday.
Liu: We were bargain shopping — we had a paper-bag lunch together. It was nice to know that you don’t have to be fancy with each other. That is the most crucial way to understand that we all have different backgrounds, and we all struggled to get to where we are.
Mirren: The other thing we bonded over was that we were unbelievably uncomfortable in our costumes. We totally bonded out of our sense of suffering with getting through the day!
What was the weirdest thing you had to do for the shoot?
Liu: Working against the blue-screen. There’s a lot of imagination and David [F. Sandberg, the film’s director] is not a man of many words. He’ll say things like, “More,” and we just look at each other like, ”Okay, let’s just do it bigger.” You think, “Oh God, this is really over-acting.” But it ended up looking fantastic.
Mirren: The other challenge for me was the young actors who were so good and inspiring, especially Jack [Dylan Grazer], but I could never understand a word they were saying. It was the moment I realised life has moved on in a way that I couldn’t quite grasp.
Zegler: I’m three years older than Jack and couldn’t understand stuff! There were times where Helen turned to me and asked me about what a certain slang word meant and I was like, “I have no idea.”
Did you have a choreographer to work on the film’s magical elements?
Liu: Some of the [scenes using] props had to be choreographed because even though we were goddesses, they were very heavy. They were like, “Can you pick [the staff ] up and walk over?” I was like, “I can’t!”
Zegler: I remember [prop master] Vinny [Mazzarella] asked you to pick it up with one arm.
Liu: Yes, so the choreography was just not stumbling and looking weak. The first scene that Helen and I had, we had to walk down these stairs with these incredible creatures, and the steps were a quarter of the size of their feet.
Mirren: And we had huge high heels on.
Liu: So we had to wait for those guys to rehearse how to walk down the stairs without falling on their faces in order for us to feel like these powerful goddesses in our introduction in the movie. These poor guys. They couldn’t see because of the costumes; their eyes were at a different place than they were anatomically.
Mirren: It’s not a normal acting experience. It’s very technical. It’s the creation of a world using incredible artisanal abilities.
Zegler: A lot of that gets swept to the side when talking about franchise films and superhero movies. They’re true artists who are making something out of literally nothing.
Do you have a favourite DC movie?
Zegler: The Christopher Nolan Batman movies are amazing and Heath Ledger as the Joker is an iconic, Oscar-winning performance. Those movies were so influential to me in [making me love] the lore of the comic-book world. Mirren: I know a lot about Shakespeare. I know nothing about comics.
Liu: And that’s why she is a goddess!
SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS IS IN CINEMAS FROM 17 MARCH