Logan on the cusp of big breakthrough

Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) - August 7, 2013 - 12:00am

“I’ve taken a lot of work I should not have done because of fear — fear of not working and stuff like that.”

One quick, careless glance at that confession would make one to mistakenly attribute that to someone who is far advanced in age, someone who’s been through a rough ride in life. But a 21-year-old guy actually said that — a young actor, to be exact — who is on the cusp of one of the biggest breakthrough opportunities in Hollywood this year.

Logan Lerman is quite ready for that breakthrough. He has been ready for more than decade.

The charming actor, whose shy smile would win anyone’s heart, had one of the most promising starts in Hollywood. He made his debut in Mel Gibson’s What Women Want at the age of nine and followed it up with another Gibson film The Patriot. At 12, he was already headlining a TV series, the critically-acclaimed Jack & Bobby, which had an unknown Bradley Cooper in the supporting cast. And he disappeared.

The years between 2005 and 2010 are the years Logan would rather remember as his learning years. He did parts in movies that he now considers as mistakes but he believes that missteps those made him a better person and a better actor now.

The fear is still there, however. “A hundred percent. All the time,” Logan told this writer. “I’ve kind of managed that a little bit more and I just said I won’t work if I am not a hundred percent passionate about it.”

This confidence gained Logan a starring role in one of the most critically-acclaimed movies last year, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. That movie did decent commercial business and the critical notices he received opened up a whole new world of opportunities for the actor who, this writer’s personal bias aside, deserves a bigger career in Hollywood.

This string of successes did not start with The Perks of Being a Wallflower, however. His career resurgence started back in the spring of 2010 when Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief earned a quarter of a billion dollars in worldwide gross and became a lucrative movie franchise.

The commercial success of that movie and the critical accolades he received for Perks of Being a Wallflower has made him a hot property. He will next be seen opposite Russell Crowe in Noah, the ambitious epic based on the life of the biblical man who survived the great flood. But before that, he will solidify his foothold on his success with the sequel Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.

It was during the junket for this sequel two months ago when this writer (I must fully disclose at this point that I am one of his biggest fans!) finally met with Logan and got to ask him in person what happened during the years that he seemed to have disappeared from the radar — and it lead to his humbling and sincere confession.

This writer, along with three other journalists from Europe, had a lively roundtable chat with him. It was a light conversation that touched on his part in the sequel, his career (which turned serious at some point but it was a mostly fun interview) and his experiences in the business.

Before our roundtable interview, we were showed a 40-minute clip of the movie and, based on what we saw, Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters promises to be one of the most thrilling and entertaining movies this year. It features impressive special effects and a cast of talented young actors headlined, of course, by Logan.

The sequel follows Percy Jackson and his friends as they search for the Golden Fleece to save a dying magical tree that protects them from their enemies. The movie is based on the best-selling Rick Riordan novels about the adventures of the half-immortal son of Poseidon.

Below are excerpts of our roundtable chat:

Did you like doing those action scenes?

“Oh, yeah. It’s always fun making a movie like this. A big adventure film.”

Did you have to do a lot of training?

“I didn’t have any time. I was coming off another project and I went straight into shooting Percy. We started training for the first fight sequence right away. It was kind of nuts.”

Last movie you did was Perks of Being a Wallflower. This one is markedly different, how do you choose your projects?

(Slight pause) “I don’t know. I signed on for this four years ago. I signed up for three of them so I was already in. After (the first) Percy, I found Perks and it was a script that I really loved and a character that I really loved. We did it and I am really proud of it.”

Are you done with Aronofsky’s Noah?

“Yes. We had a really good time making that one. It’s epic! I feel very fortunate. Perks of Being a Wallflower opened up a lot of doors for me. If not for the film I would not have been able to be a part of Noah. I feel lucky. Very, very lucky.”

You are only 21. But it seems like you are much older than that to me because I first saw you on TV eight years ago in Jack & Bobby but you went quiet after that. What happened?

“I was learning how to act. I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just instinctual; I was just going with it. I did a movie after that and it was pretty bad. And then I did another film, which was very bad, but I learned from a really great actor that I loved… I was just learning along the way. I am still trying to do better.”

Who was the actor you learned from?

“It was Jim Carrey. I learned a lot from him. I really wanted to work with him because I love his movies. He’d sit down and talk to me a lot about his career and about what he does. I really loved the way that he approaches a movie. I took what I learned from him and it kind of shaped the way that I approached every film after that.”

Not all pros would do that.

“He was so generous and just a really, really great guy! He’s like a brilliant actor. I think he’s one of the most underrated actors ever. I learned a lot about how to be comfortable on the set and, you know, confidence comes from comfortability (sic) and making everybody comfortable.”

Your career is really fantastic at this point; don’t you think that it is good to go to college and study?

“I’d love to be in school. I’d love to be studying. It’s hard though having two careers at once. Some people do it and I don’t know how the hell they do it.”

Jodie Foster and Natalie Portman were child actors who were able to do it.

“But they are machines! I don’t get it. They are way more talented than I am. I mean, this is just what I like to do and I feel very fortunate that I am doing it and I don’t want to pause or slow down or stop. If I can do it at the same time, that would be great but I am not really that talented, I am not that good.”

So at this point, do you just jump from one project to another?

“I try to work consistently. If there’s a good film and good filmmaker out there, even if it’s a day right after wrapping a movie, I don’t mind. Sometimes, it takes a while. Sometimes, I get four or five months off and I don’t know what’s going on.”

Do you have that fear common among actors of not finding work, too?

“All the time! I’ve taken a lot of work I should not have done because of fear.”

What do you do when you are not working?

“I play a lot of music. That occupies my time.”

Do you perform?

“I play for myself. I occupy my time with creative projects so I am not too bored to death. A lot of my friends are in film school so I help them with their projects.”

You are now 21; you can go out on the town and have a few drinks.

“If only I can handle my alcohol. I am not a good drinker.”

Are you the type of actor who has a grand design for his career?

“No. I have no idea. I just want to work with good filmmakers. I just feel like the great careers of actors that I really appreciate are the ones that consistently worked with great filmmakers.”

How was it working with Thor Freudenthal (his Percy Jackson director)?

“He is really gentle, really nice. I really enjoyed working with him.”

What do you love about Percy Jackson?

“I love this type of films. I grew up watching this type of films. I would put it in that category of young people in extraordinary situations dealing with human things, human problems. I like those movies a lot.”

Some critics say there’s just too many of them now.

“No. I am satisfied making these films. They are dealing with human issues. It’s the same thing with superhero movies. They are all the same. It’s all about people in extraordinary situations dealing with human issues — same thing with Greek myths.”

Are you not afraid that these movies might define your career?

“I hope not. I don’t want to be typecast.”

(Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters opens today in cinemas nationwide.)


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