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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