An Interview with Logan Lerman of “Percy Jackson & the Olympians”

For an eighteen year-old actor, Logan Lerman already has quite an impressive body of work. From the critically acclaimed television series Jack & Bobby to indie films like My One and Only and action movies like 3:10 to Yuma, Lerman’s been hitting Hollywood on all fronts. You can now add “epic” to his list of credits. In his newest film, Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightening Thief, Lerman plays the title character who is the prime suspect in the disappearance of Zeus’ lightning bolt. Percy embarks on a journey to save his mom and catch the real thief. The movie, directed by Harry Potter helmer Chris Columbus, has an all-star cast that includes Uma Thurman, Pierce Brosnan and Catherine Keener who plays Percy’s mother. Even though the movie is based on the best-selling teen book series of the same name, Lerman assures us that this is a film for all ages. “This movie relates to people in general,” he says. “It’s about the life struggle of taking your weaknesses and trying to make them into your strengths.”

How did you first get the acting bug? I’m from Los Angeles and it was accessible. There’s always a place to wait in line for an audition and I kind of begged my parents to take me. My mom nurtured my career and helped me climb the ladder. I have had a passion for movies from a young age. I first got interested in acting when I was probably four or five.

What movies inspired you growing up? Movies like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou. I remember the first time I saw these movies in the theater and it really got me into filmmaking.

This film is based on a popular book series. Did you read the Percy Jackson books prior to getting the role or once you were cast? I read the book right after I read the script. The first thing that really attracted me to being a part of this film was seeing Chris Columbus’ name right on the title page of the script. I read the script and loved it. Then, I read the book. It was a really backward process.

You play Poseidon’s son. Does Percy feel any pressure living up to his father’s legend? I don’t think that’s even issue for him. For him, his motive the whole time is to get his mom back. Save the world above anything, but get his mom back. I don’t think Percy felt any pressure.

When you are acting in an epic film like this one, or an indie film, do you approach the roles the same way? It’s all about understanding the tone of the film and feeling comfortable enough to experiment on-set and understand your character enough to do so. I approach it the same way every time, but all movies are different. Being a fan of film, you kind-of have an understanding of what this movie is going to be – or whatever movie you’re working is going to be.

What did you learn from Chris Columbus during the making of this movie? I took this chance to really see how these types of films are made, to understand how these big budget fantasy flicks come about. Months before filming, I stayed in the production office during pre-production and studied everyone and the whole process. I also take every movie as a learning experience. I can’t pinpoint specific things, but I learned the process and how great directors like Chris Columbus do their job.

Many people are saying this is going to be the next Harry Potter franchise. How did you deal with the hype and expectations walking into this? I think a lot of people are saying that mainly because Chris Columbus’ name is attached to both films and we are selling it as: “from the director of Harry Potter.” However, they’re different movies. Do we want it to be as successful and as loved the Harry Potter films? Of course, but they’re pretty different stories. This movie is transferring Greek mythology into the modern day. It’s paralleling classic myths and introducing a new demi-god into the modern day world.

What did you find the most difficult part of making this film? The stunts. It was the first time I was involved in a stunt-intensive filming process, so it absorbs a lot of your time. All of your spare time goes into perfecting your stunt work.

What was it like working alongside Pierce Brosnan? Awesome. Pierce is a true gentleman and a really great actor to work with. He’s quiet and perfect. Outside of work, I got to know him personally. He’s such a great guy.

Do you think New York City played an important role in some of the scenes in this movie? The film is about finding adventure in your life. I think New York City is the perfect location for many of the sequences and scenes.

I heard that you applied to NYU. Yes. I did.

Do you know what you’ll study? Creative writing. My real passion is filmmaking. I want to be a filmmaker one day and be involved in writing and directing.

What directors inspire you? Oh, I can go through a whole bunch of them. Just to name a few: David Fincher, Stanley Kubrick, Wes Anderson, Spike Jones and Peter Bogdanovich. I can keep going, but you don’t want to hear the whole list.

Since you’re in an empire state of mind, any restaurants you frequent in Manhattan? I haven’t gone out much. I was lucky enough to try Nobu. It was one of the most delicious meals ever! My favorite food has to be sushi.

What advice do you have for young actors starting out? Have perseverance and stick with it. Please don’t be in this business if you’re looking for social gain and popularity. Make sure you have a true passion for movies and enjoy what you do.

What keeps you grounded as a young actor in Hollywood? I keep the same perspective that I’ve always had. That perspective comes from understanding other people’s perspectives around the world that I have seen so far. Keeping true values like family and friends is also important. Also, I keep in mind that my real passion is movie making – the magic that happens when you go into a theater and everything that goes with it. You can get lost in the whole social aspect of being in this business, but I have no interest in it. It’s purely movies to me.

What do you want people to walk away with after watching this film? I want people to be entertained – to lose themselves for two hours and have a good time. If they want to peel away the layers at the end of the film, they will have a lot to talk about. There’s a lot to discover.

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