Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Speakeasy with ... Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario and Brandon T. Jackson

Posted By on Wed, Feb 10, 2010 at 8:20 PM

click to enlarge  Grover (Jackson) (l), Annabeth (Daddario) and Percy (Lerman) embark on a quest in "Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief." In area theaters Friday, Feb. 12.
  •  Grover (Jackson) (l), Annabeth (Daddario) and Percy (Lerman) embark on a quest in "Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief." In area theaters Friday, Feb. 12.

Someone is up to no good in The Lightning Thief, the first movie based on the popular “Percy Jackson and The Olympians” children book series. In the film, Percy (Logan Lerman), a newly discovered demigod is sent on a quest to recover Zeus’ stolen lightning bolt and stop a war between the Greek gods. To aid him on his mission, Percy partners up with his best friend Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), who just happens to be a satyr on the dl and a kick-butt hottie demigod named Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario).

The three young talents who drive this movie have an impressive cache in film and television to their credit. Lerman gained momentum at an early age as a film actor in The Patriot, What Women Want and 3:10 to Yuma. A sharp contrast to her co-star, Alexandra Daddario has been consistently seen on the small screen for over eight years starting with a role on the daytime soap opera, All My Children. Since then, she’s appeared on Law & Order, Nurse Jackie and the sleek drama White Collar on USA network. Brandon T. Jackson, the elder of the trio has over 20 films under his belt including 8 Mile, Tropic Thunder and Fast & Furious.

During a recent press tour, the three actors stopped by to speak with students and the media at Dunwoody Elementary School to discuss their expectations for Percy Jackson movie and clear up some myths about future projects.

Do you think Percy Jackson will be another household name like Harry Potter, is that something you guys hope for?

Lerman: In reference to Harry Potter, do you want it to be successful and as loved as the Harry Potter movies - of course. You get talk about it being similar because Chris Columbus’ name is attached to both films and they’re marketing this film as “From the director of Harry Potter,” but the movies are different. – they’re different stories.  We’re just trying to introduce classic Greek mythology into the modern day and give it a clever twist.

Chris [Columbus] described you as “A forty year old person trapped in a 17 year old boy.”

Lerman: … It’s because I lie about my age. [laughs] I’m really a middle-aged man. I don’t even really know. I grew up quickly… LA does that to you sometimes.

Daddario: He has a very mature way of approaching his job and approaching relationships. And working with people in a way most 18 year olds wouldn’t.

Lerman: I’m really serious about movies. I have a real passion for it. I guess that’s hard to find nowadays because most young actors want to be a pop star, be famous -  its all for social gain. I’m just really interested in making films.

… So how do you show that interest?

Jackson: Well we’re all film geeks. We made a pact when we did the film and said we’re not going to have some corny movie that we just pucker our lips and try to look good. Not to reference Twilight – just joking, that’s my comic bone coming out. But the thing is we wanted to make a real film like how Back to the Future was and not to reference Robert Zemekis but he’s such a great director – I love him, but Chris [Columbus] has a classic. He has a way of making movies marvelous, extraordinary, and classic. And with that style he goes with the older crew - with Spielberg and you know, that whole feel. So it’s hard when you have that and a lot of your peers just wanna be teeny boppers.

Lerman: It’s also about maintaining your passion for it. I don’t use if for social gain at all - not at all, its just so I can work with directors that I really like.

How do you reconcile your passion for film with the nuance of the character for the audience level

Lerman: Obviously this is an entertainment. You’re not going to go in there and try to dissect it and make into something crazy. The truth is we’re not making it about one person being bigger than the film. I’m nothing like Percy in real life. I made him a real character just like Alexandra did with Annabeth and Brandon did it with Grover. We made sure that they’re not us playing the character whereas you find that in a lot of movies a nowadays is that they’re just selling the person rather than actually having the character sell the movie or the story lines.

Jackson: We wanted to be entertaining for adults and kids which is hard to do and the thing is lines that I say are more for the adults. The “recession” line  - all that stuff of course that’s not in the script, but at the same time you give it that thing. Like Medusa, Uma Thurman’s character - she gives you guys a reason to like the movie. We have to entertain, but we’re not going to dumb down lines too much. So its not “Hey, how you doin’,  [nasally voice] all right, let’s go on a quest!” Even though some parts are like that, don’t get me wrong because you have to get it to the kids but you know, the Lotus room is for the adults, but this is for the kids so we try to even it out.

After seeing the film, out of all the characters [Jackson] your character [Grover] is the more mature and made me think of Alpo Chino. How did you prepare to make your character more of an adult-situated character?

Jackson: Well he’s 32 but that’s a teenager in satyr years but he’s still been around longer than these guys. He’s already had back history with Chiron and Zeus’ daughter Thalia – he lost her a long time ago, so Percy is his last way to become a full protector, because he’s kinda that kid that flunked a couple of times. So the way I prepared for it was to make sure I can relate to everybody, don’t play him one way – play him as well rounded and play him a little bit cooler not like Mr. Tumnus, James McAvoy on Narnia because I want to make it relevant to you guys.

As an African American male in this movie and I’m saying that because I’m a satyr, I’ve already got my friends going “Dog, what you doing with them goat legs, man?” I’m being real.  Its like you’re looking at what our people represents, you got T.I, you got Ice Cube, you got 50cent, you got Jay-Z, Chris Brown  - and then me – and I’m the one with the goat legs and making fun of rappers so I have to play it well rounded for everybody.

Did your experience as a stand up comedian help you with this character?

Jackson: I always look at Will Smith and Fresh Prince or in MIB. It would be something awkward, like a bully and he’s talking mess to him then he turns around and the bully is bigger than him. And it puts you in universal feelings – it makes it awkward and that makes it funny. To be talking to Virgil (Death) going “Yo, waddup man … aiight.” It’s that awkward you know why would a satyr be talking to your boy like that? It’s that weirdness. Human emotions are funny, not just certain types. If I was in the movie saying [nasally voice] “Percy, you got to get out of there, come on!” you’d say Grover is so annoying [laughs]. Chris had to fine tune that because sometimes I would comment on everything and that’s one thing you learn as a comedian is you can’t comment on everything you got to know how to be

Lerman: You’re in a difficult role in the film because you’re the comedic relief for some serious situations. So people can still have a good time in these moments.

Jackson: And it’s tough because you have Logan and Alex who are great actors and you have to make sure all your emotions match and not talk so much.

That’s Chris’ job, you lay your options on the table and he shapes it around to make the film. So in his situation you throw a whole bunch of options out there and see what makes it in the film. Every scene he’s constantly throwing stuff out here. We only see some of it.

How did the script change when you added your dialog to it as opposed to the original script?

Lerman: Basically the way we did it. Chris made us feel there was a freedom we could make it as natural as we wanted to make it. I think you can really tell when we’re really going off script.

Jackson: There was lot of freedom where we’d have a moment that Chris would notice.

Lerman: The best part to movies are spontaneous. Its right on the spot, you come up with something that just feels right that no one would even notice. I like doing on the spot because the best things come the first time. I’m not good at recreating it twice., especially small pieces.

Daddario: That’s what you do in life, you bounce off each other’s energies and have spontaneous moments so things aren’t planned out. But they’re the best and funniest things in life.

Lerman: But it’s all about feeling comfortable enough to do that. Because a lot of times you don’t feel comfortable at all. You’re on a set that’s really stiff and makes you feel insecure - you’re not going to want to experiment with things.

What can you tell us about Spider-Man?

Lerman: I got nothing. People take a small bit of information and blow it out of proportion

…Its our job.

Lerman: Yeah I know, all I’m saying is I’m a big fan of the work. Anybody my age would die to play that role, I’m just hoping to be considered for it.

Brandon, you were here [in Atlanta] filming “Lottery Ticket” how did that go?

Jackson: I don’t know yet. I don’t know what it is. I hope it hits its demo and makes a little money. To be honest, I got to see the movie first. I’m more excited about Percy because that’s what I like to do. I like action-adventure, so I have to see the movie. I’m not hating on Bow Wow, but I like being in scenes with actors and working with actors, not entourages, and girls in my eye line and video chicks.

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Latest in Fresh Loaf

More by Edward Adams

Eat what you grow
Eat what you grow

Search Events

Search Fresh Loaf

Recent Comments

© 2015 Creative Loafing Atlanta
Powered by Foundation