Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
Logan Lerman Q&A
Interview by Joe Utichi – www.joeutichi.com
At only 21 years old Logan Lerman has amassed a prolific list of screen credits covering nearly 15 years in the business. He started auditioning in the 1990s and made his debut on the big screen in 2000 with roles in the Mel Gibson starrers THE PATRIOT and WHAT WOMEN WANT. He established himself early on with a turn in RIDING IN CARS WITH BOYS alongside Drew Barrymore and has played key roles in films like THE BUTTERFLY EFFECT with Ashton Kutcher, THE NUMBER 23 with Jim Carrey and 3:10 TO YUMA with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale.
But it was in 2010 that he became known to audiences worldwide when he took on the title role in Fox 2000’s blockbuster PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF. Based on the book by Rick Riordan, the film cast Lerman as a high school teen who discovers that his father is Greek God of the Sea, Poseidon. Indoctrinated into a world of gods, demi-gods and lords of the underworld, Percy’s quest turned Lerman into a star. He followed the role with a turn as d’Artagnan in Paul WS Anderson’s twist on THE THREE MUSKETEERS and won critical plaudits for playing the lead in Stephen Chbosky’s THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER, based on Chbosky’s novel of the same name.
Lerman returns to the world of PERCY JACKSON this year in PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS. With returning cast members Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson, as well as new faces Leven Rambin and Douglas Smith, Lerman’s Percy must set out on a quest to retrieve the Golden Fleece of legend, so as to restore safety to his home and school, Camp Half Blood.
Where do we find Percy at the beginning of SEA OF MONSTERS?
Well, the first film ended on an heroic note for Percy. In the beginning of this new film, he’s not the hero anymore. He’s not the big guy on campus – that’s actually Clarisse, played by Leven Rambin. She’s taken the number one role in the camp and she’s a bit of a bully. She’s tough, very competitive and stomps on Percy a lot. Percy’s a bit insecure and down on himself, and accepting an average demigod life. He finds out on top of all this that he has a half-brother who is a cyclops, and he’s reluctant to let him into his life.
Were you excited to come back?
Yes, very much so. I have a lot of fun with these films and, ever since the first one, I meet a lot of kids who like this movie and it brings a lot of smiles to their faces and it’s a nice feeling.
What attracted to you to the films in the first place?
Honestly it was the director. Chris Columbus really attracted me to the first project. I grew up with his films. I thought he was a great filmmaker and I would put my career in his hands, although I didn’t have much of a career before that movie. I thought, I would invest in him, if you know what I mean.I really like his work, and that was one of the main deciding factors of that film and I really appreciate it. I’m glad that he chose me. It’s really nice.
How does Thor Freudenthal, who directed this film, differ to Chris?
The movies are completely different. I really enjoyed Thor’s vision and I liked his movies. I feel like they’re fun and they have a very specific tone. He has a very good understanding of his tone and what he likes and everything. So I got an idea of a movie that he wanted to make and the way that I approached it is, I’m catering to his vision. It’s definitely lighter than the first one. I’d say that it’s more comedic, this film. He said, “Look, I like the first one, but this is what I want to do,” basically. And that was our first conversation, and I was like, “Okay. Let me read the script.” And then I met with him. I usually like to meet with filmmakers before reading the script and talk to them first and try to figure it out, and then go and read it, and we just started working together and we had a blast. It was great because it was pretty spontaneous and we were having fun coming up with the ideas of what we could do.
Is it good to reconnect with Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson again?
Yeah. I mean, everybody in the cast, Jake Abel and everyone, we’ve all remained really close friends. It was kind of funny because over the years since the first movie came out, we became friends. We were all like, you know, “Will we do another one?” It wasn’t like we needed to reconnect or anything, because we were connected beforehand.
Thor says you’re pros when it comes to the stunts and green screen stuff. Do you enjoy that side of it?
I love it. I have an imagination so I can get into something even though it’s a tracking marker. There are a lot of questions beforehand, trying to wrap your mind around what’s going on, so I see conceptual art and things like that so I can kind of wrap my mind around what they want to do. Then the rest of it I have a lot of freedom to give them options and my options dictate what they can do in post-production. So it’s a lot of fun. When you start thinking about it in that way, you’re like, “OK, what ideas do I have? What can we play with in this angle to screw around with it?” It’s just like making a movie with your friends on the go or something like that.
How different is a film like this from, say THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER?
It’s very different because they’re very different movies. Like I said, the main challenge for this film was the physical work, whereas in PERKS, there’s nothing physical in there. It’s all in the mapping out intentions and the storylines, which is a lot more detailed work in a movie like that. But I like it all and I think it’s all fun. It’s nice to have a combination of the two. I like a lot of different genres of cinema. I find I’m attracted to darker material right now. I like edgier things, I guess, right now. It’s hard to find that for someone my age, so I’m always trying to find something different. I really want to stay away from doing the same thing.
When did you decide you wanted to be an actor?
I started when I was young. Really, really young. I don’t even know why I started so young. Everybody in LA gets the chance if they want it. To be honest, it’s one of those things, you know, you can stand in the line for a casting call as easy as anything. So I remember doing it with my siblings when I was a kid. I remember auditioning with my brother for MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE. I was like a child. And through that I ended up doing a couple of films. I had a bad experience that made me quit but I wasn’t away for long. I got back into it because I really like movies and I really wanted to learn about filmmaking, and what it’s like being on a set. I ended up getting on a television show, JACK & BOBBY, which was a great learning experience. That was kind of the start of my film school. I was 12 when I first started with the intention of wanting to learn about how people make movies and television. I had no concept of how an image gets on a screen and how people edit. So it all started on a television show for me.
Would you ever want to do something else besides acting?
I really like movies. It’d be nice to go behind the camera. This whole acting thing’s treated me very well, and I really like it, and if I could transition into filmmaking that’d be great. I’d love to be in a position where I can have the resources to do it correctly, and I think you need a certain amount of pull for that. So hopefully if I go on making some right decisions in acting, I’ll be able to transition into filmmaking as well. That’d be nice.
Do you watch yourself on screen?
It depends on the movie. I typically don’t like to, especially with an audience. But the last film I did was with Russell Crowe, while PERKS was coming out, and I was telling him I didn’t want to watch it. I didn’t see it. He said, “You didn’t watch the movie? So how are you supposed to get better? How are you supposed to learn if you don’t watch your film? You have to watch your work. Otherwise you’re not going to get better at all.” And I thought, damn, I need to take this guy’s advice because he’s way smarter and better than me at what I do. You don’t want to argue with Russell Crowe. You’ll lose. I realised he was right. You’ve got to bite your lip and say, “I put myself out there, I’m willing to embarrass myself.” And then I watched it and I was actually satisfied with it, but there are things I saw that I went, “Okay, I know I would want to do them differently.”
It must be fun to watch yourself be an action hero in PERCY JACKSON.
Exactly! That’s much easier to watch, because it’s fun to see how they put all the effects together and make you look good. And now I feel I can watch it to see how to improve my performance, so I really respected that advice.
Are you always looking for the next challenge?
Yes. I definitely want to challenge myself with characters that are difficult, that I read and I think, “I don’t know what I’m going to do with this.” That stress is kind of fuel for the fire. But mainly I really look at the filmmaker. “Can I trust you? Are you going to make a film that I like?” Because it’s their movie and I’m catering to their vision. What they ask for, I’m going to try to give them. So I really do try to look at the filmmaker more than anything.
Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters is in cinemas from 7 August 2013.