News Column

Lerman: Why I want to call the shots ; PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS

August 9, 2013


Logan Lerman, star of new blockbuster Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, is only 21 but he's been acting for almost two decades, as Susan Griffin reports HE might play a demigod in his latest movie, but Logan Lerman proves he's very much human when he rolls up with his arm in a cast.

I was skateboarding to the liquor store, the 21-year-old explains, a little sheepishly.

He hadn't skateboarded in years but had taken it up in preparation for a role. That's the story he's sticking to, anyway.

That said, Lerman does not strike you as the type of bloke who spends his spare time on a board. He may have only just reached the legal drinking age in America but he's something of an old soul, or at least a little world-weary - as only you can when you've spent the majority of your young life in the biz.

Born in Beverley Hills, Lerman was apparently two years old when he declared to his mum (also his manager) that he wanted to be an actor.

By the age of four he had an agent, and four years after that he was cast in first big screen role, as the youngest son of Mel Gibson's character in The Patriot. He must have made an impression as, that very same year, he played the young version of Gibson's character in What Women Want. A small part in Riding In Cars With Boys followed, as did a couple of TV movies and then, in 2004, he was cast in the TV series Jack & Bobby.

I liked the process and enjoyed the experience, but I hated the repetition. It was so annoying to do the same shtick every episode, says Lerman. I don't want to ever do one thing for ever. I want to switch up the genres, different tones and ratings. He's not all talk. In recent years, he's starred in movies as diverse as western 3:10 To Yuma, period romp The Three Musketeers and indie coming-of- age drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower, while a Second World War drama with Brad Pitt is in the pipeline.

First though, is Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, sequel to 2010's Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, in which Lerman returns as the titular hero and demigod son of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea.

He may have saved the world in the first film but Percy is now suffering a crisis of confidence. He's very insecure and self- conscious. He has a lot of doubt in himself, and has decided he's just going to be a regular old demigod, explains Ler man.

He doesn't have much time to brood, though, before the magical borders of Camp Half-Blood begin to fall and a horde of mythical monsters threatens to destroy the haven for the children of the gods.

The movies are based on the popular series of novels by Rick Riordan, who taught Greek mythology. Harry Potter is an obvious comparison, says Lerman. They have similar, specific themes that are universal for the age group that reads these books, and readers respond to that.

Lerman credits JK Rowling's books for inspiring me to be part of something like these huge fantasies.

Like his alter ego, the young actor values the close group of people he has around him, who I can trust and confide in, and who will be there for me.

It was the physicality required of him that proved the greatest challenge of the movie, unlike 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower, in which he played a shy 15-year-old coping with love, friendship and loss.

Films like that have more challenging characters, in terms of their arc and intentions, and it's a lot more work with the material, says Lerman. Whereas with this [Percy Jackson], there isn't a lot of work on the material, it's all about the action.

He recently reunited with Perks co-star Emma Watson on Darren Aronofsky's biblical epic Noah.

I'd worked with most of the cast before, but the only real friend I had was Emma, reveals Lerman. I think she was really comfortable that we were working together, too, because it was such an intimidating set to work on with all those guys [Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Anthony Hopkins] and the material. She was the area of comfort.

Unlike Crowe, who plays Noah, and with whom Lerman worked on 2007's 3:10 To Yuma, perhaps? It had been six years since I'd seen him. I was 14, and he's not going to be keeping in touch with a 14- year-old, but now we're all very close and he's a friend of mine, says Ler man.

The shoot was fun - in retrospective, he says with a laugh. Making it was stressful. It was a crazy movie, hectic, but I'm really excited about it. I mean, Darren [of Black Swan fame] is an awesome film-maker, so I'm really stoked. Lerman makes no secret of the fact he'd like to become a director in his own right one day.

Like George Clooney, there is a small handful of guys who've managed to jump from acting to directing, he says. I'd love to learn how to tell a story, rather than aid someone else's storytelling.

He is already observing his directors at work.

A lot of the film-makers are really generous in opening the doors and allowing me to look over their shoulder, especially Chris Columbus [who directed the first Percy Jackson]. Aronofsky too, although to a lesser extent: I was very timid and didn't want to step on his toes or get in his way, admits Lerman. Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters, which is in cinemas now, is reviewed in today's EG on Pages 8 and 9.

FACT FILE: On the Sea of Monsters Set production for Camp Half- Blood began in Vancouver in October 2011 and involved a crew of 200- 400. Some scenes were shot on Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. More than 2,000 costumes, ranging from demigod campers, Cyclops and zombies, to gods, were made.

Amusement park Circeland was filmed at what was Six Flags Jazzland Amusement Park in New Orleans, closed in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina.

6ft 11in actor Robert Maillet plays both the legendary Cyclops Polyphemus and monstrous henchman Laistrygonian, but remains concealed beneath prosthetics.

'' With this, there isn't a lot of work on the material, it's all about the action Logan Lerman

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