In 2010, things got even bigger for Lerman when he landed his first franchise, signing on for the title role in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief." Now, after a critically acclaimed performance in last year's "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," the actor once again returns to play the son of Poseidon.
When Moviefone met up with Lerman in New York City a few weeks ago, he was fresh off a media tour in Italy for "Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters," and was in dire need of some black coffee. But, despite the jet lag, the 21-year-old's enthusiasm for acting, the filmmaking process, and this role was obvious.
Below, Lerman talks about filming "Percy" in the New Orleans heat, his new role opposite Brad Pitt, and the eccentric musician he would love to play one day.
Moviefone: Compared to "The Lightning Thief," this movie seemed more epic and immersive. Was it harder to shoot? Was it more fun than the first?
Lerman: I mean it was really different working with Thor Freudenthal as opposed to Chris Columbus. He's a very different director, tonally. The movie itself, as you know, is much lighter and fast-paced than the first film and, yeah, I guess the work felt different because of that. But, you know, they're both fun movies to make, they're just different experiences.
I'm sure. Like that amusement park scene, that must've been fun.
Oh yeah, it was a good time. I mean a little grueling. We were outside of New Orleans in, like, the middle of August, working all-nighters for a month and a half and it was a hundred degrees and humid.
This movie also seems like it's more in line with the books. Was that important to you, to represent the fan base of the books?
Yeah, it is [more in line with the books]. In a way, I mean, that was more of the studio's intention, to please the fans, and I'm kind of the guy who gets the script and works with the material. But, I definitely think fans of the books will be more happy with this one than they probably were with the first one.
Have you seen the fan base grow from the first one?
I've noticed it kind of take off. I think going into it now more people know about it than they did the first film.
So, have you had any crazy fan encounters?
Nothing too crazy, but you know, there have been some experiences [laughs]. Nothing too insane, but some people just get very, very excited over it.
You did a lot in terms of movies from the first 'Percy' to the second. Do you feel like you brought anything different to the character this time around that you didn't have the experience to the first time?
I mean, I really don't feel like I did much different. I guess I'm always learning and growing, but for this it was just kind of like putting on the old shoes again, getting back into that mode.
Now, in terms of the roles you play, you choose a wide variety. Is that a conscious effort for you to not get typecast or stuck doing one thing?
Yeah, I think it would be boring to the same thing over again, and I'm kind of just attracted to hard roles -- something that seems difficult that I'm not sure I can do. But I also just like filmmakers. So, if there's a great filmmaker out there, I'm going to try to be a part of their project.
Are there any filmmakers you are dying to work with?
David Fincher is really one of them. I really am a big fan of his. And, like, Spike Jonze, the Coen brothers. But, they're dreams, and I feel really fortunate to have worked with some filmmakers that I really appreciate.
Do you have a preference about what you do when it comes to franchises as opposed to stand-alone movies?
The idea of a franchise is a little daunting because of just the whole -- when you're doing it that usually means you're signing on for more than one and that can be kind of scary. So, I guess with stand-alone movies there is comfort in knowing that there's just one and that's all you're going to do because the rest of the fate isn't in your hands after that. You know, unless you're producing it or something. But, yeah, I don't really have a preference. If the material is good and there is a good filmmaker doing a franchise, I'll be stoked.
Switching gears a little -- I read that you play a few instruments. So, if you could play any musician, who would it be?
Cool. That's a good question. Um, God, there are a few musicians that would be cool to play just because they're like crazy cool characters. Elton John would be interesting. I don't know if I could do it, but it would be cool.
I think you can pull it off.
I don't know if I could. I wonder. I like him a lot as a musician, though. Also, what's his name of Joy Division? They made that cool movie on him. I think it would be fun to play him. Ian Curtis! He's a cool character. There are so many. Lou Reed would be interesting.
I know you're working on "Fury" with Brad Pitt now. How's that going? Did you start filming yet?
No, we haven't started filming yet, but we're in the training process now, which has been intense and cool. But, we're going to start filming soon. I'm excited about that. We have a good cast.
And you visited Fort Irwin as part of your prep, right? How was that experience?
Yeah. It was really interesting and really eye-opening learning about the army and their training.
Was that something you were interested in before you got the part?
I didn't really have, like, a knowledge about it. I never really looked into the military or anything, but now I'm kind of diving into it. But, it's so specific. This ["Fury"] is World War II, so the army has changed a lot since then. What we were learning about there is very different from what we're going to be doing in the movie. But I am learning about WWII and I'm pretty fascinated by that.
And working with Brad Pitt, have you asked for any words of wisdom?
No, I haven't asked him for any advice or anything, but we're all kind of learning together about all this. We haven't really spent much time together, but he's a nice guy. It's going to be a crazy, crazy movie to film.