Chris Columbus has already steered a best-selling children's-book series into a mega-successful big-screen franchise, helming the first two "Harry Potter" films. There's no reason he can't do it a second time.
That's his task with the modern-day tale of "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," the first film adapted from the work of author Rick Riordan. After selecting Daniel Radcliffe to become Harry, Columbus plucked 18-year-old Logan Lerman for the role of Percy. He's the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea, and a human mother, who's completely unaware of his lineage until he's pulled into a scheme to rescue Zeus' stolen lightning bolt before the gods use planet Earth as their personal battlefield.
Percy joins up with Grover (Brandon T. Jackson), who's half-man, half-goat, and Annabeth (Alexandra Daddario), who's the daughter of Athena. Together, they set off on a quest to save the world. Before the film arrives in theaters Friday (February 12), here's what you need to know.
What Happens at the Shore ...
So where does an immortal Greek god like Poseidon go to meet a lady in the 21st century? A lovely island in the Aegean Sea? Nope! In "Percy Jackson," Poseidon meets the love of his life at none other than the Jersey Shore.
That's right — the Shore isn't just for overly tanned reality stars, but for the gods themselves. "That's pretty funny!" Lerman told MTV News when made aware of the connection. "I never thought about it."
Just don't tell Snooki, OK?
There's Freedom in Post-'Potter' Life
After the success, and the pressure of "Harry Potter," Columbus vowed to take a different approach with "Percy."
"For me, there was a baptism by fire doing the 'Harry Potter' movies," he explained to MTV News. "When we got into that first film, we had the eyes of the world on us in terms of who's going to be cast, what are you going to do. And I realized as I lived through those first pictures that when I got into something big again, I would want to have a sense of liberation as a director. I really wanted to preserve what I thought were the most cinematic elements and incorporate the new scenes."
Among the larger changes he made was turning Percy into a 17-year-old rather than a preteen, all the better to explore the book's themes of parental abandonment and the difficulties of dealing with learning disabilities. Plus the fighting was just so much cooler when the kids were older.
"If it was 12-year-olds sword-fighting, you'd get the sense they were fighting with wooden swords," he said. "It would have a much less edgy quality."
Percy Is Gonna be a Star
Lerman has already been selected to be the face of a franchise based on a best-selling book series. Now he might just be the face — and the mask — of a rebooted franchise based on one of the most beloved superheroes of all time: Spider-Man.
Lerman let the news slip last week that he was in discussions to take on the Spidey role, and when we caught up with him, he was enthusiastic about the chance. "To be honest, it's a role that any young actor is dying to play, and I'm just hoping to be considered," he said. "I'm just a huge fan."
Columbus said he'd be happy to share the young actor with another franchise. "He's the real deal," the director said of Lerman. "He's a phenomenal actor. Tobey Maguire is a phenomenal actor, and if you see 'Brothers,' Tobey delivered an amazing performance. I'm a 'Spider-Man' fanatic. To me, that second 'Spider-Man' film is probably the best superhero film ever made. It's a natural progression to reboot with someone who has the ability to become as great of an actor as Tobey Maguire."
Pierce Brosnan Is a Man, Baby! Mostly ...
The former Mr. James Bond plays Chiron, a half-man, half-horse deity known as a centaur. Pulling off the portrayal required a lot of CGI work on the part of the filmmakers. But with his bushy beard and regal mane of hair, Brosnan had no problem getting into character.
"I looked at the artwork from Greek mythology," he told MTV News. "I ride horses. I owned half a racehorse for a while, lost a bit of money. I love horses. So it was a little bit of method acting!"
Even Demigods Dig Lady Gaga
As Percy's quest takes the trio across the country, they end up in a Las Vegas casino. Without revealing too much, the crew ends up forgetting the urgency of their mission — by which we mean they find themselves in a dance sequence set to Lady Gaga's "Poker Face." While Grover and Annabeth eagerly participate in the dance party, Percy hangs back. Why?
"I was going to, or they wanted me to, and I was like, 'Man, you don't want me to dance! I have no moves for this,' " he laughed.
Check out everything we've got on "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief."
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