*More fun and excitement is to be had with the return of Percy Jackson and his crew.
Filled with relentless enthralling special effects, one of the most frightening and captivating visual effect is that of the gigantic fire spewing Colchis Bull in “Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.”
In “Sea of Monsters” Jackson and his crew, who are living in modern times, must save Olympus from destruction.
The film stars Logan Lerman (Percy Jackon), Alexandra Daddario (Annabeth), Brandon T. Jackson (Grover), Yvette Nicole Brown (Gray Sister 2), Richard Yearwood (Ganymede), Bjorn Yearwood (Young Grover), Ron Perlman (Voice), Olivia Spencer (Voice), Craig Robinson (Voice), and Anthony Head (Chiron), who is best known as the stately Watcher in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
The segment that garnered an Emmy nomination, “Hush,” has a dread locked Black woman, Phina Oruche (Olivia), as Head’s girlfriend. The episode was highly praised when it aired and was the only episode in the entire series to be nominated for an Emmy Award in Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series; it also received a nomination for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single Camera. “Hush” addresses the limits and assets of language and communication and the disruption to society when communication breaks down. The Gentlemen are often counted as some of the series’ most frightening villains, and the episode is frequently included on lists of the best of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
Before cast members that flew into New York to talk about their high-octane adventure were interviewed, The Film Strip had a sit-down with director Thor Freudenthal. “Hotel for Dogs” in 2009 starring Don Cheadle and Emma Roberts was his feature directorial debut. Before that, he was second unit director on “The Haunted Mansion,” with Eddie Murphy. In 2010, he directed “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” which launched a successful franchise.
Thor, the Norse god of Thunder predisposes you for this particular genre. So what’s the story behind your name?
It’s a long story.
In that case you have to tell me about it another time since our time is limited. People have been asking me about Beyonce’s sister Solange, and her appearance in the movie, but I didn’t see her?
I wish she were. I think people have been seeing it on imdb and it’s a mistake.
Maybe they thought it was one of the Gray Sisters?
That’s Nicole Brown. I’ve worked with her before and she’s fantastic. She was in the ‘Hotel for Dogs’ movie I did. She’s been on ‘Community’ and I wanted to have her back.
How did you decide who stayed and who would not return?
I was going to inherit a lot of great actors such as Logan, Alexandra, as well as Brandon. We didn’t really say farewell to anyone except for Pierce Brosnan because of scheduling or business reasons. I was thrilled to bring in Anthony Head who I always liked on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ and he’s the nicest guy. He sort of brought a different sensibility to this. All the new editions I really always wanted to work with such as Nathan Fillion who plays Hermes, who I loved from his days on ‘Firefly’ and then Stanley Tucci of course.
Was there any pressure having to take the reigns from Chris Columbus (Harry Potter)?
Yes, some but most of it came from myself because what I’ve come to learn there is a very dedicated group of readers of the book series. So the pressure was to take the elements that Chris had established and take everything a step further in terms of scope and action. I also wanted to include more critical elements of the book’s mythology such as Thalia’s tree, the great prophecy which is very important as well the uber villain of the whole book series which is Kronos, the father of all gods.
What were some of the challenges?
I have a background in animation and visual affects but never directed a movie of this size that had so many in it, so it was sort of like putting a glove that fits fairly well on. The biggest challenge is with all the technology and all these elements is to never really forget you’re telling a story about people and about keeping the focus on the characters. The story is something that can slip from your hands if you’re too distracted or too blinded by all the action and all the hoopla that goes on, which is great but you can’t sacrifice the story for it.
What’s the appeal of family films?
Maybe it’s my background in animation that makes me gravitate towards those movies; those kinds of whimsical worlds and subject matters. I think family movies mostly have two things, which are great—a sense of humor and lightness in its approach to the story. But they also have a very emotional core and themes. In this case it’s a coming of age or trying to find out what your place in life is and the a father and son relationship.
Is there any one message you want audiences to walk away with?
Yes, one that is kind of personal is the theme of brotherhood. Percy learns he has a member of his family that he never knew existed and it comes to him in a trying time when he is focused on g etting any kind of response from his father and he’s not getting it. Then here comes a brother he knew nothing of, who is odd and different but seems to be getting all of his father’s attention much to Percy’s chagrin. I have a younger brother and I know that maybe some of these feelings—I love my brother more than anything—made me relate very much to that part of the story.
Soon after being ushered into another room, Logan Lerman entered. I asked him about being a super hero among the crop of this summer’s super heroes?
“Yeah, I guess he is kind of a superhero in a way,” was his modest response. “He’s human and I guess that’s what makes him relatable or at least why these films are interesting for young people. It’s young people in extraordinary situations dealing with things that are universally human. He’s insecure and has a lot of self-doubt and that’s what he’s dealing with in this movie which I think everyone deals with and why it’s relatable [to those] who will be seeing this film.”
It’s been three years since “Percy Jackson & the Lightning Thief,” and Lerman talked about the changes now that he is no longer a teenager.
“That’s it, I had a few years on me. You’re always growing as an actor. The more projects you do, you learn different things about yourself.” One of those projects was “Perks of Being a Wallflower” with Emma Watson that also became a huge hit. Next for Lerman is “Noah,” in which he plays Ham.
Alexandra Daddario was prompted to talk about her kick-ass role as Annabeth and her being a role model for young women.
“I think it’s very important to have these strong female role models,” she asserted. “I think that the books have such a strong young female and male fan base. I think they’re beloved by the fan base and so I know that I’m stepping into a character that people already love. I, myself, remember being a young woman and how hard it is. I like that the women in this movie are on equal footing with the men and Clarisse played by Leven Rambin is a really tough and strong woman and there’s never a question that ‘oh, what a weird thing that a woman is strong.’ It’s just how it is. They’re the children of gods and I think that’s great and I think that it’s cool that I get to play such a great strong female role.”
‘We’re the Millers’ actors express themselves
“We’re the Millers” is full of laughs and adult humor. Members of the cast assembled for a press conference at the Crosby Hotel in New York and took on questions about their unorthodox road film about a made up family transporting drugs from Mexico. The conference began with reporters asking Jennifer Aniston about her striptease body.
What tips can you give up about keeping in shape?
JENNIFER ANISTON: There are no secrets. We had an amazing choreographer and a wonderful trainer. A lot of good stuff and we worked out a lot.
Did you have to stay away from carbs?
JA: No, just no food. There was a lot of celery, a lot of salad, a lot of celery sticks, a lot of cucumbers. Ice chips, they did let me eat ice chips. Water was good. No, you can eat normally.
Although it’s a comedy, how does it feel to have taken down a notorious drug cartel?
JASON SUDEIKIS: Someone thinks it’s a documentary. Let’s look for ‘Avengers’ type numbers for this movie.
Was there a lot of improvisation going on?
JA: There wasn’t a lot of improv. We stuck to the script. There’s a lot of banter, which is a lot of fun. Jason’s an amazing partner in volleying.
Did you relate to this story as actors since you sometimes have to come together with people you don’t necessarily like and act as if you do?
JS: Dr. Phil says you gotta fake it till you feel it. You know? So they faked it and then they ended up feeling it. Hopefully the audience feels the same way. That is the thing. [Imitating Dr. Phil] You gotta fake it till you feel it! Fake it till you make it! Is it Dr. Phil? I think it was Dr. Phil. Or maybe it’s some other fake doctor. It’s the reality show model. Put people in the same town in the middle of North Carolina for four months, give ‘em a job and then you end up loving each other and hating each other and getting annoyed with each other.
JA: Well yeah. That was what was fun about it—the attitudes we have about each other at the beginning. I can’t stand [Jason’s character] and I don’t know the kids. I think we actually do become a family. You spend three, four months of your life every day, sometimes for too long, you just begin to like each other.
How did you all prepare for your roles to help get into character?
JA: Well they had to drag me out of that strip club every night. All the fun stuff is on the DVD. [No] I worked with this amazing choreographer and started learning some pretty amazing moves. It kind of just became easy. It was really fun actually. I have a stripper pole in my house now. Me and Paris Hilton and Kate Hudson.
EMMA ROBERTS: That was actually my phone my phone [in the film] the whole time so I was actually listening to my music and kind of tuning everyone else out. I got to wear fake facial piercings, which I guess helped me get into that character.
JS: I tried to spend 20 minutes with a drug dealer about every two months.
WILL POULTER: A lot of virgin conventions.
Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected].