Zachary Levi could end up pulling double-duty in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Variety reports the Chuck star, who already plays Fandral in Thor: The Dark World, is on the shortlist with Cloud Atlas actor Jim Sturgess to portray team leader Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel is said to have made test deals several weeks ago with five actors -- Pushing Daisies star Lee Pace, Eddie Redmayne and Joel Edgerton were among them -- but only Sturgess remains from that pool. Levi, who has apparently impressed the studio with his performance in the Thor sequel, is a more recent addition.
Created by Steve Englehart and Steve Gan, Peter Quill was introduced in 1976's Marvel Preview #4 as the child of a human mother and an alien father who grows up as an orphan to become a NASA astronaut and then to assume the mantle of the interplanetary police officer Star-Lord. He eventually recruited the likes of Drax the Destroyer, Gamora and Rocket Raccoon to form a new version of the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Levi's history with Marvel dates back to 2010, when he was in talks to play Fandral, the egotistical swordsman, in Thor. However, the actor had to drop out when NBC gave a last-minute renewal to Chuck, and Josh Dallas stepped in to replace him. Two years later, Dallas' commitment to ABC's Once Upon a Time prevented him from reprising his role in The Dark World, leading Marvel to once again turn to Levi.
Although Chris Evans famously portrayed the Human Torch in Fox's two Fantastic Four movies before being cast as Captain America, it would be an usual step (to say the least) for an actor to play two different roles in two different Marvel films. But perhaps executives believe the physical appearances of the characters, the supporting status of Fandral in Thor, and the distinctly different tones of the films -- Guardians of the Galaxy is expected to be more lighthearted -- make the use of the same actor a non-issue.
Directed by James Gunn, Guardians of the Galaxy opens Aug. 1, 2014.