I was given the opportunity last Friday to join a conference call to talk with Thor Freudenthal, director of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters. No compensation was received for this post.
When I mentioned on Better in Bulk’s Facebook page the morning of my interview with Thor Freudenthal that I’d be participating in a Percy Jackson-related interview later that day, the response was very consistent. My readers wanted to know if the second Percy Jackson movie was going to follow the second book closely or if the story line would be changed significantly. Here is an excerpt from our interview…
I was pleased with Thor Freudenthal’s responses and the explanations he had regarding changes and the challenges of portraying such an epic story on the big screen.
He says, “Percy Jackson was…challenging because the book is a sprawling, multi-hundred page epic. And in a two-hour movie, you can’t really do that. We had to sort of make really tough choices to keep the pace up and create a three act structure.
And the result, since the story is about Camp Half-Blood becoming vulnerable, and the barrier of Camp Half-Blood being destroyed, that’s where we had to start our movie, rather than start it in school where the second book started, and spend a whole lot of time there, which really wouldn’t have amounted to much in the movie. It doesn’t really help the general plotting of the story, which means we have to introduce characters differently and bring them to the table differently.”
One blogger asked Mr Freudenthal if there were there any unique challenges to coming in for the second movie in a series when someone else directed the first movie, especially since Chris Columbus was one of the producers on this one? Did that create any unique challenges?
Thor Freudenthal responded, “Yes. Definitely. (I was) presented with a series of decisions that were already made from casting to how the story was sort of left at the end of the first movie.
So, that’s challenging to sort of pick up the pieces and try to do the book justice with kind of ending up with what you have. But it’s also very liberating because the setup has already been done. Meaning Percy has learned who he is. We’re already in that world. It’s established. So, now you can sort of dig a little deeper into it, as far as how you create the different aspects of Camp Half-Blood.
I wanted to create more of a life in the camp, or I wanted to show different sides of it. And I wanted to sort of widen the scope of it. So, you can almost pick a little bit around and see, okay, this worked really well in the first movie. So, I definitely want to pick up that thread.
Here, I think we can lean heavier on the books, and so forth. It’s kind of interesting to bring sort of a fresh coat of paint to a house that’s sort of half built.“
In preparation for the interview, I had read that Thor Freudenthal, after working on the first movie, was interested enough in the story that he read the book series by Rick Riordan. I wanted to know which character he was most excited to see portrayed on the big screen.
I wasn’t surprised by Mr. Freudenthal’s answer: “I’d have to say Tyson, probably, because it was such a difficult thing to get done.
The thing about Tyson is, obviously I thought, okay, Cyclops generally are huge monsters, huge villains seen as brutes. I was, like, what a great idea to sort of create a character that embodies the idea of don’t judge a book by its cover.
He’s seen by the world as a monster, but he’s the kindest and sweetest. He has an innocence about him. It was a challenge for that because in the book, he reminded me of Sloth from The Goonies. I don’t know if you remember the character.
It’s sort of a monosyllabic kind of creature who speaks in two-word sentences. You know, “Tyson hungry.” That kind of thing.
And then that quickly auditioning these actors kind of evolved into kind of a weird version of children’s theatre. So, what we had to do is add a little bit of sophistication to him, in that he is still very innocent.
But we’ve veered more towards he sort innocently enthusiastic about being at Camp Half-Blood. He thinks it might be a place where he’s accepted finally. But also having what he thinks is sort of a rock star brother in Percy Jackson. And of course, Percy Jackson feels less than a rock star about himself.
The relationship and creating Tyson as a character with the help of an actor and some CGI was definitely very interesting to me also. Very dangerous because people were concerned about creepiness and so forth. But in the end, I’m pretty happy with his performance, how he comes across.”
What would you have asked the director if you had been on the call?
Connect with Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters Movie Online
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