Will ‘Percy Jackson’ fans embrace Hollywood’s older version of the boy hero?

Feb. 09, 2010 | 1:29 a.m.

Rachel Abramowitz stirred an avalanche of reader comments last week with her post on “The Last Airbender and she may do the same with this update on the Hollywood treatment of a certain half-god.

Percy Jackson stands tall

It’s a question, in a way, for the ages: What happens when Hollywood makes a bookshelf boy hero into a young man?

To the devoted fans of the “Percy Jackson” books, the bestselling series is largely defined by the fact that it is a 12-year-old peer at the center of the sword-swinging adventure — so how will they feel by the decision to “age up” the title character in the Hollywood adaptation that arrives in theaters on Friday?

Logan Lerman, 18, is the star of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” and don’t think that a lot of a thought didn’t go into the decision to pick an actor in the shaving-cream consumer demographic. Director Chris Columbus, who has a lot of experience with child actors after directing the first two “Harry Potter” films and the first two “Home Alone” movies, said the choice was made so the film could match the action on the pages of the series by author Rick Riordan.

“For me, it was a matter of reality, and some of the intensity of some of the scenes in the book. I was really thinking how they would play out in visual terms.” Columbus said. “I felt we would just add a little more weight to the entire cast, by casting Percy up a little bit.”

It’s one thing to read about a 12-year-old battling mythological creatures and another to actually see it, Columbus suggested. For instance: Percy hits Las Vegas for an nightclub sequence that might not sit well with moviegoers if the hero was more Nickelodeon in age than MTV.

Columbus added that he was “enamored” with Lerman, who comes off somewhat like an earthier, more authentic Zac Efron. Lerman also has proved himself in the face of menacing power before —  he held his own opposite Christian Bale and Russell Crowe in the western “3:10 to Yuma,” after all.

In fact, Columbus said that Lerman is far older than his own birth certificate, which may suit someone playing the son of a Greek god: “His screen test was one of the best screen tests I’ve had the pleasure of seeing. He’s like this 45-year-old guy trapped in a teenager’s body. He’s wise beyond his years.”

— Rachel Abramowitz


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11 Responses to Will ‘Percy Jackson’ fans embrace Hollywood’s older version of the boy hero?

  1. Pete Miller says:

    My ten year old is very excited to see the Percy Jackson movie and he has not said one word about the character being played by a much older actor. He's seen the trailers and the ads, but he does not seem to care.

  2. mari vega says:

    agree with columbus it may be difficult to present many, if not all of the action sequences (of which there are many), with a younger cast. In any case, people don't seem to be complaining about Percy's ageing and the actor playing him (lerman) can pull it off

  3. Mandy says:

    I like the idea of aging the characters up. It gears the movie toward all ages instead of just kids. It's too hard to find a convincing 12 year old actor. Plus, I've seen some of Lerman's work and I think he's an excellent actor for someone so young.

  4. Dan Shirley says:

    So it's nothing to do with the 15 y.o. girl viewer demographic?
    Or the he's-seventeen-so-he-can-work-adult-hours pragmatism?
    Forgive me if I'm not convinced.
    The trouble is, having Percy that age immediately introduces a sexual tension with Annabeth that isn't there in the first book, but IS there later as they grow up.
    Assuming this movie makes as much cash as they hope, they're spoiling the sequels.

  5. Helena says:

    I'm really looking forward to the movie! The books are just fantastic, LOVE them! Great series! :)

  6. Mockingjay says:

    Um…it's not supposed to be a nightclub in Las Vegas, just a hotel. If they didn't change everything so much they wouldn't need to age up characters. Just stick to the book Hollywood.

  7. Lola says:

    I"ve read all the Percy Jackson books and I LOVE them. I saw the movie and it SUCKED!!!!! In my opinion they should have cast 12 year old kids for the movie. They are capable of acting fighting scenes even though the director thought it was too much ( Probably because he is an OLD bafoon!!!) I mean look at Harry Potter ( Daniel R.) he did good.
    And NOAH RINGER who is 12 YRS. old for the LAST AIRBENDER. Have you seen the commercials? That movie will have a lot of fighting scenes with him. NEWAY the last airbender will be much better than Percy movie bc they followed the story.

  8. massie says:

    i don't really know if they are making secquals by the time we will see the 5th and last book he will be like 25 or 22 im just thinking about what will happen then also that his co stars are in their 20s already so if they are making sequals then they better get a move on it.

  9. My 11 year old son read all the books.
    I read the first book.
    We were disappointed with all the changes
    especially the age difference.
    But, the worst change was the "Lotus Casino" scene.
    We were looking forward to the cool video games,
    instead we get to see teens getting high, rolling on lotus candy.
    I can't believe we were suckered into watching this movie.
    The book targets the younger kids,
    the movie targets the older kids.
    Seems like the producers got a bit greedy.
    My son says the book series was "EPIC"
    and the movie was "EPIC FAIL".
    Does anyone know how to explain to an 11 year old
    about the politics behind the Hollywood casting process?
    or how to answer,
    "Daddy, why isn't Sokka and Katara not brown anymore?"

  10. Percy
    Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief (2010) film review by Benjamin

  11. Random Dude says:

    I loved the book myself but as Cerberus, The Serpen said the movie was a EPIC FAIL.

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