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February 2010
PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF
An Interview with Brandon T. Jackson


PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF
An Interview with Brandon T. Jackson

February 10, 2010

 

With the success of ‘Tropic Thunder,’ and having done earlier films such ‘Roll Bounce,’ ‘This Christmas,’ and most recently ‘Tooth Fairy,’ comedian-actor Brandon T. Jackson is starting to get bigger roles in high budgeted films.

Coming up for the Detroit native is film adaptation of ‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,’ which stars Logan Lerman, Alexandra Daddario, Pierce Brosnan and features cameos by Sean Bean, Kevin McKidd, Uma Thurman, Melina Kanakaredes, and Rosario Dawson.

Based on the book by Rick Riordan, a teenager (played by Lerman) discovers he's the descendant of a Greek god (Poseidon) and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between the gods.

In speaking with Blackfilm.com at the famed Empire State Building in New York City to promote his latest film, Jackson talked about his work thus far, working with the cast, and his upcoming projects, which includes a reunion with his ‘Roll Bounce’ co-star Bow Wow.


You represent the comedy of the movie. Did you know that going in? You're a comedian by nature, did you do any improv?

Brandon T. Jackson: Oh no, they wanted me to be the comedy relief but they also wanted me to stick to the story. They didn't want me to do too much comedy where it gets off-base. 'Percy' a movie that everyone can enjoy, be they black, white, green, blue, old, young, and I'm not just saying that. The best thing about this movie is I get to do action, comedy, adventure, and I got to get the girl so it's a good situation. It's PG but it feels like an action movie.


 

This is the first big film you've done since 'Tropic Thunder.' How's it working with Chris Columbus and what is it you're learning from him?

BTJ: Chris Columbus is great. If you don't know his work I'm going to shout out some things just to get them on the record. You look at "Home Alone", "Goonies", "Gremlins"... all these movies that helped shape our childhood imagination. It's really a pleasure to be able to work with him. He allows us to do what we do and be a collaborator, not a dictator.


What attracted you to the movie?

BTJ: The fact that it was so different and something you don't see a lot of brothers do. I'm trying to bring something different. Everybody's doing the same movies over and over... I respect Tyler Perry and he does something that means things. Anything I do I want to have heart and action, have something where I can still be funny and give a certain light to a film.


Can you talk about the character you play, Grover?

BTJ: I'm a satyr. I've had to educate a lot of people today because this is Greek mythology; we're bringing it to modern day. Keep in mind these are the original heroes, before Batman and Superman. They would have stories where these gods ruled the earth. We're putting that in modern-day Brooklyn, New York today. I play a satyr, which is a half-goat, half-man. They represent the Earth. They're lovers of the Earth, protectors of Percy Jackson who is the son of Poseidon. They're also very hormonally driven so they chase the ladies, and I have that kind of love thing with Rosario Dawson in the film.


How much did you know about Greek mythology going into the movie?

BTJ: I knew and I forgot, and I went back I learned more. I watched the movie and I remembered what I learned. As I do these press junkets I have to brush up again. Every night I'm trying to go back and learn so I can actually reproduce some good information.


Everybody knows who Zeus and Medusa, but most folks on the street don't know your character.

BTJ: I think my character is good because he is new, and I think it's good 'because he is new and people need to know what satyrs are in modern day because they represent the Earth and he becomes god of the wild. He serenades the nymphs. Now let me ask you something: If someone was a modern day satyr, serenades women, magical, his name would be Prince, right?

 

In this movie you have a lot of scenes with Pierce (Brosnan), Uma (Thurman), and Rosario (Dawson). What's the experience like when meeting these individuals?

BTJ: Rosario's such a doll. They all came in with humility and that's the best thing about it. It was just a pleasure to be able to work with her, and it was very nerve-wracking because she was so amazingly beautiful and fun. If you could put your dreamgirl in one setting imagine how nervous you would feel.


 

How's life changed since 'Tropic Thunder?' When you're in a movie like this one and 'Tropic Thunder' and you're the only black person in the cast you get a lot of attention. You're representing the community. That's part of the marketing.

BTJ: Don't turn on me. I'm telling my community to don't turn on me 'because I need your support. Make sure everyone knows I'm a brother. (laughs)


Are you getting more roles now that you're higher profile?


BTJ: Of course. I'm the only young African American man in my position right now and it's tough 'because you got to balance everything out, make sure people understand you on both ends. It's one of the hardest things to do.

What do you have coming up?

BTJ: I got 'Lottery Ticket' with Bow Wow coming out, and now this is blowing up I want to see how Fox and everyone reacts to the difference and the versatility, 'because I'm nothing like Grover and 'Lottery Ticket.'


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