How Shazam! and Fall Gave Grace Caroline Currey Death-Defying Powers
After Fall and Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Grace Caroline Currey is learning the magic words to being her own advocate.
In 2021, during production of Scott Mann’s sleeper hit survival thriller Fall, Grace Caroline Currey struggled to stand tall beneath the setting sun of the Shadow Mountains. The 26-year-old actress isn’t afraid of heights. “But I’m a normal person,” she jokes to Inverse over Zoom.
For authenticity’s sake, the filmmakers replicated a safer version of the movie’s terrifying scenario. Grace and her co-star, Virginia Gardner, star in Fall as two daredevil climbers stranded at the top of a 2,000-foot tower. In reality they were suspended only a hundred feet high on a replica stage. Still, while shooting the climactic sequence, Grace was asked to jump onto a small target space — a satellite dish caked in fake blood — that slanted at a scary angle.
As mountainous winds pierced like daggers into Currey, who felt something off with her harness, she found the courage to say no.
“I spoke up,” Currey tells Inverse. “I called Scott and let him know it felt dangerous. I wasn’t going to accomplish what they wanted from me.”
On a Hollywood movie set, the dwindling resources of time, manpower, and patience are precious. It takes willpower to insist on one’s well-being at the cost of everything else. And for women, there is always the risk of inviting harsh labels, like “difficult,” that can haunt a career. But Currey knew what was at stake and chose not to play the odds. The odds were in her favor. The next day the winds dried the blood on the satellite, giving her traction to land. “It wasn’t slippery and I was able to do it,” she says.
In her latest movie, Currey isn’t worried about being high up but staying down to Earth. In Shazam! Fury of the Gods, a sequel to the acclaimed 2019 film, Currey returns to the DC Universe as Mary Bromfield, the older foster sibling of Billy Batson (Asher Angel, with Zachary Levi as his superhero alter ego). Once upon a time, Currey’s character was Mary Marvel, one of the first superheroines in comic books. But this time, Mary has powers of her own.
While Fury of the Gods centers again on Billy fighting a trio of evil goddesses called the Daughters of Atlas, Mary has her own problems. On the cusp of adulthood, Mary is caught between raising her rambunctious super-siblings and living the normal life of a college student.
“She’s at a crossroads,” Currey tells Inverse about Mary. “She’s been so goal-oriented. She’s a little lonely even though she’s got a family. She doesn’t know what her next steps are. She’s got this immense responsibility of being a superhero. What do you do with your life when suddenly you have superpowers, but she’s an adult contributing to society?”
In an interview with Inverse Currey unpacks the return of Mary in Shazam! Fury of the Gods, the secrets to looking like a badass in a flying pose, and the times she’s had to overcome fear.
This interview has been edited for clarity.
In Shazam! Fury of the Gods, Mary seems over being a superhero. Why do you think Mary wants to move on from the superhero lifestyle?
She’s only had superpowers for a short time. But she's lived her whole life working towards her dreams to go to a fantastic school and study biochemistry and crazy, brainy stuff. Some of those textbooks on set, I’d read them on break and be like, “Wow, this is wild.” But she had a whole life before powers. She was working hard and making sacrifices socially.
The struggle is, she’s not Freddy. She doesn't get a kick out of being a superhero. It’s not a dream come true. Even the action sequence on the bridge, we see her superhero-ing like it’s a job. It doesn't give her affirmation. And she's with a bunch of kids! Who are like, “Yeah, we're gonna go do this, we're gonna do that!” and she's like, “I have a job.”
How do you relate to Mary? Do you have siblings?
I’m the youngest of four. But we have big age gaps. I’ve had seasons where I felt like the older sibling, or I was having the heart to hearts with my parents and having them take personality tests. When I was 13, I was like, “We’re all gonna figure out if we're introverts or extroverts.”
What were your results?
INFJ, INFP, I fluctuate. I’m a recovering INFJ. But I am so a Mary. Give me alone time and something that I’m curious about that I can research, also let me sit you down and have you take a personality test so that we can be more mindful of each other.
There’s a scene where Mary is hungover because she was hanging out with people her age. I sense there’s a deleted scene. Did you shoot a scene of Mary partying?
Yeah, there’s a deleted scene that hopefully we’ll see on Blu-ray. She’s got this side job delivering pizzas using her super speed. She ends up at a college party and runs into people she went to high school with. “You were our valedictorian. What are you doing delivering pizzas?” It’s a rough moment for Mary. These people living the college experience and I’m delivering pizza. Even if I’m a superhero, nobody can know. She leaves but doubles back because they offer her beer. That’s why she’s hungover. I had a migraine that day, so I’m sitting on that bean bag chair going, “I feel like I’m actually going to throw up.”
Here I thought you were a convincing actor!
I’m just so method. [laughs]
You actually wear the superhero suit of Mary in Fury of the Gods. What did it feel like for you to wear that costume and play a superhero this time?
It was a funny feeling. We’ve got legends in our cast, I’m working alongside people who are so established, that it was a funny feeling to be with everyone not in my suit. “Gosh, that super suit really gave me some power.” When you don’t have it anymore, it’s like, Hi, it’s me, Grace! Getting to wear the suit for the first time, and getting to work in the suit every day, it’s a whole experience. Putting those boots on to go work. It’s everything you think it is, just a childhood dream come true. I felt like I was in an episode of the animated Justice League.
Mary Marvel was one of the earliest superheroines in comic book history. When you were cast, how did it feel knowing you’re giving life to a piece of superhero history?
When I first auditioned for Mary, a dear friend, Jeff Wong, he’s got connections with a friend who has a comic book store. He got me this giant box of Mary comics. I was looking at her in the ‘80s and then the ‘50s, a wide range of many different iterations of her. It was like detective work trying to piece together the common through-line of who Mary is.
She’s responsible, she’s dependable. She’s the one who speaks up. She has a Hermoine Granger, “superhero Nancy Drew” [thing] going on. She’s got the knowledge and she’s gonna let you know. She’s literally the brains. In some of the older comics where maybe females were less fleshed out, you’ve got her saying things like, “Just because I’m in a skirt...”
When I found out I was [going to wear] the suit, I visited the DC vault. You’d love it. They have historians of comics, troves of first editions and these beautiful history lessons. I just dove into the lore of it. I fell in love with how much they love Mary. I've watched the same YouTube videos over and over talking about how she was inspired by Judy Garland, how there was this heart and excitement about creating her because she was one of those first female superheroes. Can you get any more exciting? It’s really an honor. Even now I’m thinking, “Oh, that is cool.”
How different was shooting the green screen superhero scenes from the first movie to Fury of the Gods?
We had green screen in the first one, but so much of it was us running around reacting to stuff. Now being a superhero, there’s more action. It’s way more physical. I’ve got to think about how I’m flying. What’s my posture? I perpetually had my hands in fists, which they had to CGI into a more relaxed hand for one scene. I was like, “Oh.”
What’s the secret to flying on camera and not feeling hokey?
You can’t think, “This is ridiculous,” because then it’s ridiculous. I had different flying poses I used. [Director] David [F. Sandberg] would be like, “Can you do your knee up, fist and arm back?” This is so Mary, but I had a Pinterest board of poses from comic books, of Mary and Wonder Woman, to get the physicality of how one flies. It’s fun to think about because on my first day on set, suddenly I was like, “How do you act like a superhero? I don’t know!” Day one, I was flying onto the bridge and walking forward putting my hands on my hips. I shouldn’t tell you that was day one because now you’ll tell.
Between the two Shazam films you were in Fall. What did you learn about the psychology of daredevil climbers? What do you know about why they climb?
It was so immersive that I became a bit of an adrenaline junkie doing my own stunts. There’s excitement about having control over your fear, feeling the fear, but doing it anyway. It’s empowering. I can be a bit of a fearful person, so for me it was this weird drug of being like, “Woah, my fear can't control me, I can control it.” [In doing] research on people who are adrenaline junkies, a lot of times they’re missing something in their brain [that gives them] fear. They don’t quite have that.
When was there a time you felt fear?
Shooting Fall. Being so high up in a tiny tower in the desert with winds that are so dangerous we’re having to climb off frequently or call off the day shooting. The end where I jump down on to the satellite dish, we had this fake blood and it was slippery. I couldn’t stand. We were running out of time with the sun going down, so it was really scary for me to speak up say, “I think I’m gonna hurt myself.”
You have now played superheroes and daredevils. Do you feel like you’ve actually become a better version of yourself after taking on those roles?
Yeah. It’s about honesty. Anytime you’re honest with yourself with others, and not being a people pleaser, there's opportunity for you to be a more well-rounded human living truthfully. It’s been a big lesson for me on set to be my advocate. Everyone’s so focused on their jobs that they can’t be focused on my safety all the time. What if I hurt myself and we couldn’t shoot the rest of the movie? It’s a funny thing where you have to have self-responsibility for the sake of the whole.