PERCY JACKSON & THE LIGHTNING THIEF Cast: Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario, Sean Bean, Pierce Brosnan, Steve Coogan, Rosario Dawson, Catherine Keener, Kevin McKidd, Joe Pantoliano, Uma Thurman, Ray Winstone
Director: Chris Columbus
Screenplay by: Craig Titley, based on the novel by Rick Riordan, the first book in Riordan's best-selling book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Producers: Karen Rosenfelt, Chris Columbus, Michael Barnathan, Mark Radcliffe
Genre: Adventure - Fantasy
Based on the first of a series of acclaimed novels, PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS: THE LIGHTNING THIEF is set in a modern world where the twelve gods of Mount Olympus (perched 600 stories above the planet on New York's landmark Empire State Building) are alive and are creating a new race of young mythological heroes who are demigods -- half mortal, half god.
Percy, the teenage son of Poseidon, is suspected by Zeus of stealing his lightning bolt, the universe's most powerful weapon. To prove his innocence and avoid a devastating war among the gods, Percy embarks on a transcontinental odyssey to find the real thief.
Along his journey, he confronts fierce enemies determined to stop him, and attempts to save his mother from the deadly clutches of another Greek god, Hades.
Release: February 11, 2010
Trouble-prone Percy Jackson is having problems in high school - but that's the least of his challenges. It's the 21st century, but the gods of Mount Olympus seem to have walked out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology texts and into his life. Percy has learned that his real father is Poseidon, god of the sea, which means Percy is a demigod - half human, half god. At the same time, Zeus, the king of all gods, has accused Percy of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt...the original weapon of mass destruction.
Now, Percy must prepare for the adventure of a lifetime, and the stakes couldn't be higher.
With ominous storm clouds brewing over the planet and his own life now in peril, Percy travels to a special enclave called Camp Half Blood, where he trains to harness his newly discovered powers and prevent a devastating war among the gods. There, Percy meets two fellow demigods - the warrior Annabeth, who is searching for her mother, the goddess Athena and his childhood friend and protector, Grover, who is actually a brave but untested Satyr. Grover and Annabeth then join Percy on an incredible transcontinental odyssey that takes them six hundred stories above New York City (the portal to Mount Olympus) and to the iconic Hollywood sign, under which burn the fires of the Underworld. At journey's end rests the fate of the world - and the life of Percy's mother Sally, whom Percy must rescue from the depths of Hell itself.
Percy Jackson: Half human. Half god. All hero!
Fox 2000 Pictures presents "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief," the big screen adaptation of author Rick Riordan's #1 New York Times bestseller, The Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians. The first of five books in Riordan's series (the final installment, The Last Olympian, hit bookshelves in May 2009) was published in 2005 and won several awards, including a New York Times Notable Book honor of that year Best Book of 2005 from both the School Library Journal and Child Magazine and a 2006 Bluebonnet Award nomination from the Texas Library Association.
Chris Columbus ("Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone," "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets," "Home Alone") directed the epic fantasy-adventure starring a quartet of rising young stars -- Logan Lerman ("3:10 to Yuma") as the film's title character, the brave, fearless young warrior, Percy Jackson Brandon T. Jackson ("Tropic Thunder") as the Satyr Grover, Percy's protector who attempts to earn his very first horns while keeping the young demigod out of harm's way and Alexandra Daddario ("Bereavement") as another demigod, Annabeth, daughter of Athena, who joins Percy on his quest to find the missing lightning bolt.
Also starring are Sean Bean ("National Treasure") as Zeus, supreme ruler of the gods of Olympus Pierce Brosnan ("Mamma Mia") as Chiron, the Centaur who runs the special training ground for these demigods while becoming Percy's mentor in explaining his blood connection to the gods Steve Coogan ("Night at the Museum") as the greedy lord of the Underworld, Hades, who craves the missing weapon Rosario Dawson ("Sin City") as the goddess Persephone, Zeus' daughter and Hades' long suffering, imprisoned wife Catherine Keener ("Capote") as Percy's mom, Sally, who is held hostage by Hades in the Underworld Kevin McKidd ("Grey's Anatomy") as Zeus' brother and arch rival, Poseidon, god of the sea Joe Pantoliano (HBO's "The Sopranos") as Percy's slovenly stepdad, Gabe and Uma Thurman ("Kill Bill") as the mythological Gorgon, Medusa. Jake Abel ("The Lovely Bones") portrays Luke, son of Hermes and one of the demigods who befriends Percy at Camp Half Blood.
"Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" filmed in Vancouver, with additional locations in Las Vegas, New York City and Nashville. Twentieth Century Fox releases the film in theaters everywhere on February 12, 2010.
Author Rick Riordan, who taught Greek Mythology for a many years in middle school in California and Texas, came up with the idea for the first Percy Jackson book (which subsequently led to four additional novels and a huge fan base numbering in the millions) after reading the sagas of the ancient Greek heroes as bedtime stories to his son, Haley.
"When I ran out of myths, my son became disappointed," the author relates on his website. "He asked me if I could make up some new stories with the same characters. I remembered a creative writing project I used to do with my sixth graders, which allowed them to create their own demigod hero, the son or daughter of any god they wanted, while having them describe a Greek-style quest for that hero.
"Off the top of my head, I made up Percy Jackson and told Haley all about his quest to recover Zeus' lightning bolt in modern day America. It took about three nights to tell the whole story and, when I was done, Haley told me I should write it out as a book."
Those three nights ultimately became a yearlong odyssey for Riordan (pronounced Rye-or-dan) in completing his first book for young readers (he was already an established author, having written several prior novels, his first being the Tres Navarre private eye thriller, Big Red Tequila, in 1997).
"I picked a few of my sixth, seventh and eighth graders and asked them if they'd be willing to 'test drive' the novel," Riordan continues. "I was nervous! I'm used to showing my work to adults, and had no idea if kids would like Percy. I finally understood what it must be like for them, turning in an essay to me and waiting to get their grades back! Fortunately, the kids really liked it. They had some good suggestions, too."
After the book's publication in 2005, it would be another five years before Hollywood would bring the first of the Percy Jackson stories to the screen. While the studio explored turning Riordan's first book into a movie, the author continued the series by penning a new novel each year between 2006 and 2009. Chris Columbus was attracted to "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief" because, as he relates, "We haven't seen the world of Greek Mythology in a story like this before," he elaborates. "I think Rick Riordan tapped into something quite unique, juxtaposing the world of the ancient Greeks with the underbelly of contemporary America."
Columbus is no stranger to the world of fantasy. In addition to launching the "Harry Potter" film franchise with his direction of the first two films and production of the third in the ongoing series, he also gained a tremendous following with three of his early screenplays, all original works: "Gremlins," "The Goonies" and "Young Sherlock Holmes."
Columbus describes his new genre effort as a contemporary adventure meets Greek-Mythology film, as opposed to a pure period-piece Greek myth with gods in flowing robes sitting on billowy clouds. "This story has a sense of reality and an epic quality while still portraying a sinister, supernatural battle between good and evil," he explains.
Columbus chose a prior collaborator to adapt the book to the screen, Craig Titley, with whom Columbus and his producing partners at 1492 Pictures had worked on the hit comedy "Cheaper by the Dozen." Titley's scholarly background in Greek Mythology was a timely bonus. "Chris knew I was getting a Ph.D. in mythological studies when he sent the book my way," Titley relates. "I had just finished my studies and thought this was perfect because my head was swimming in Greek myths and monsters and heroes. And it's actually the kind of movie I've always wanted to see since I was a kid. Mythology has always been hip, and there's kind of a mythology renaissance going on right now in pop culture. It seems to have captured the imagination."
Even before Titley turned in his screenplay, Columbus and producer Michael Barnathan pitched their ideas for a "Percy Jackson" movie to the studio, later designing initial conceptual artwork to further illustrate their ideas. "This concept art had Chris' vision and tone for the movie," Barnathan says. "It was important for Chris to design some monsters and creatures based clearly on old Greek mythological art and concepts, but take it in a new and fresh direction that we haven't seen. So, we started our approach on paper with conceptual art. The studio got very excited and saw that this could be bigger than just a young adult story."
Once they had a visual motif for the project, the filmmakers next turned to the script. "It's a wonderful book, but you can't have everything that's in the book in the movie," explains Barnathan. "What we tried to do was retain the essence of the story, characters and the world that Rick created, and put it in a cinematic context."
"One of the big changes we made was upping the age of Percy and his friends," Titley notes. "In the book, he was twelve years old. It was just much more fun to make him seventeen. With that age, we could play with Percy and Annabeth and their relationship."
"To me, this story was perfect because it had this whole great world of Greek Mythology populated by Greek monsters that we could create and design and put in our world," says Columbus. "And, the heart of the story is about a young man who wants to save his mother and find out who is his father is. So that made it a very emotional story. The kind of story I respond to as a director."
"The movie is also very much about parent-child relationships," Barnathan amplifies. "It's the theme that runs through it and something that connects many of Chris' movies. At the heart of his films there's family. In 'Home Alone' it's a boy who's lost his parents. In 'Mrs. Doubtfire,' the kids are trying to keep their parents together. Here, it's a boy trying to find his father while rescuing his mother - to put his family back together."
"What drives Percy to go on this huge journey is that he wants to save his Mom," says actor Logan Lerman, who plays Percy. "For him, that's bigger than saving the world. During the journey, he finds out that his mother is alive and Hades is holding her captive unless (Percy) returns the lightning bolt to him. So, Percy tries to find a way to get to the Underworld and convince Hades of his innocence, all to get his Mom back. That's what drives him to travel cross country and face the [creatures] Hydra and Medusa and lots of other wild adventures. Yes, he goes on this huge journey with his two friends to convince Zeus and Hades and all the gods of his innocence of stealing the lightning bolt. But, it's really about getting his mom back."
Lerman nabbed the role of the titular hero after Chris Columbus had caught a screening of the western "3:10 to Yuma." But the wheels were set in motion before then. Columbus recalls the casting process: "My assistant, who's been with me for several years, said to me a couple of years ago that if I was ever looking for a young star to be in one of my films, I should check out this movie, '3:10 to Yuma' with this young man Logan Lerman. I watched the picture and thought he was an amazing actor. When it came time to cast 'Percy Jackson,' I thought about Logan. When I met him, I was immediately taken with him, thought he had the essence of a potential movie star. Then, he did a screen test and I was completely blown away. Logan is like a forty-year-old person in a seventeen-year-old's body. His instincts are so remarkable. I truly believe Logan has the ability to be the next Leonardo DiCaprio. He's got a sense of reality and intensity about him that I haven't seen in many kids his age. He's that fantastic."
In addition to the opportunity of working with Columbus, Lerman relished working on such a big canvas. "This is a big movie!" Lerman exclaims. "I've never been part of a big movie like this, on this level. The size kind of takes you back every day. And, with Chris Columbus attached, this amazing filmmaker, I wouldn't want to put my career in the hands of anybody else.
"I didn't realize what I got myself into when I started," the young actor notes about winning the film's title role. "I'm like, 'who did I fool to get to this point?' It never really hit me until I got to Vancouver [to begin filming] and saw these amazing sets. They built The Parthenon, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Mount Olympus and the enormous Lotus Hotel and Casino."
Keeping a watchful eye on Percy is his best friend, Grover, a mythological creature known as a satyr - a half man, half goat related to the Roman mythological creature Faunus. Grover has been entrusted with protecting Percy on their transcontinental odyssey, and it's a challenge for Grover on two fronts: He's a newbie at the protection thing, and in typical satyr fashion, he has a keen eye for the ladies. The latter fact didn't go unnoticed by Jackson during his research for the role. "They're wild creatures," Jackson notes. "Grover has issues with women. In mythology, satyrs always hung around with nymphs. In this story, Grover has a big crush on Persephone [Hades' wife, played by Rosario Dawson] and she has a crush on him. But, he's not used to a goddess liking him because he's just a satyr."
Jackson, who also grew a goatee for the role, emulating the slight tuft of hair adorning a goat's chin, also reveals that his character "has a lot of other issues, like insecurity. He's really immature as Percy's protector. He's a junior protector, not a senior protector. He doesn't even have his horns yet." Then, the performer's comic persona returns when he adds, "it's weird because the more I did the character, the more I became Grover. I really started to feel like a goat. At home, I was eating cans."
While Columbus knew and greatly admired Jackson's work from Ben Stiller's hit comedy, "Tropic Thunder," he was initially unfamiliar with the female lead he would ultimately help choose to play the crucial role of the demigod Annabeth, daughter of Athena -- Alexandra Daddario. Daddario was brought to the filmmaker's attention by his longtime casting directors, Jane Jenkins, CSA and Janet Hirshenson, CSA.
"We had screen tested a lot of women for the role of Annabeth," Columbus relates. "When I saw her video test Alex had done in New York, I was intrigued. We then put her on film and I had never seen anyone's eyes photograph like that. She was mesmerizing. I also realized she had a tremendous amount of chemistry with Logan and Brandon."
The film marks Daddario's first motion picture starring role in a career dating back to her teen years in New York on the daytime soap "All My Children." Daddario explains her take on the role within the story's context. "'Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief' is based on the idea that the Greek gods came down to earth and had children with mortals. Then, their children were left wandering the earth because demigods aren't allowed to meet their parents. Annabeth hasn't met her mother, Athena, but she does hear her speak to her sometimes. She gives her advice. She has some kind of connection with her mother but also some resentment that she hasn't ever seen her or been able to have her immediately in her life."
Daddario notes similarities between her character and herself: "I think that one of the great things about this character is that she's so strong. I've read for a lot of characters for women my age that aren't fully formed or have developed personalities or characters. They're sort of just on the sidelines. But, I think that Annabeth is a very complex, very fully formed, strong character. She has a good balance between emotion and strength."
For Jake Abel, the scenes set at Camp Half Blood were among the high points of the production. "Camp Half-Blood is, in a sense, a foster home for demigods," says Abel. "It's where my character, Luke, as well as Percy, Grover, Annabeth - and all the demigods get their training. Chiron teaches us to use our best attributes only against evil. The demi-gods are also taught the importance of not letting the powers get out of control because demigods could take over the world - and that would lead to total global destruction. So Chiron teaches us to maintain our powers and use them for the greater good."
Abel and his young castmates enjoyed the camaraderie of shooting those scenes, as well as month-long training sessions that put the actors in demigod shape. "Every morning we actors had our training with all the stunt guys," Abel recalls. "And training commenced with sword fighting and flying. It also all helped us bond very quickly."
Percy and his friends' journeys bring them in close contact with gods, both good and evil. While assembling his cast to embody the lofty lot, Columbus and Barnathan found that the Percy Jackson books were a major draw. "We were very lucky in this movie with our cast," says Barnathan. "Good things attract good people. And, right from the beginning, people came aboard often because they had a family member who was interested in the book. It certainly happened with Pierce Brosnan, whose kids loved the book."
Brosnan, fresh off the success of the hit movie musical "Mamma Mia!," plays the role of Chiron the Centaur, the majestic and powerful leader of the special camp for demigod training. "Actually, I play Percy's teacher, Prof. Brunner and I play Chiron, who are one and the same," Brosnan elaborates. "I play Prof. Brunner in this world, in this time. He teaches Greek Mythology from a wheelchair. You don't know why he's in a wheelchair until we transport ourselves into the world of Greek Mythology. As Percy goes on his journey, I become Chiron, who is half-man, half-horse -- a Centaur.
"Chiron is somebody who's connected to the mythology of his time, then and now," the actor continues. "I try to intervene to stop a war from happening, which will upset the balance of nature. If the gods come down and create havoc with the mortals, there will be terrible consequences for the entire planet." To give the actor the accurate height of a horse's head, Brosnan donned painter's stilts, which measured about a foot high. The prop department manufactured a staff for the character to carry, and from there he tapped into his theatrical roots. "I had a street theater company called Theater Spiel and we used to do stilt work and fire eating and clowning," Brosnan recalls. "For 'Percy Jackson' I visited a few horse farms in Canada before I started shooting. Then, you make it up on your own."
While Brosnan works extensively with young actors Logan Lerman, Brandon T. Jackson, Alexandra Daddario and Jake Abel, he shares no scenes with the other adult cast members, including Steve Coogan and Rosario Dawson, as the bickering, dysfunctional wedded couple of the Underworld, Hades and Persephone. Coogan's colorful knave is, says Coogan, "pursuing Percy Jackson for Zeus's lightning bolt, which has gone missing. I played Hades as being addicted to evil. He doesn't really want to be bad, but he can't help himself. But while he's certainly the axis of evil within the movie, there's definitely comedy in the character. The challenge and opportunity with the character was to strike a balance between finding those comedic moments without undermining the gravitas of playing a god."
Coogan also found inspiration for his role in his godly wardrobe. "[The filmmakers] wanted Hades to look kind of like a rock god," he explains. "So I have the snake skin pants, the snake skin boots, the torn t-shirt, the long hair and beard it was all a very stylized look. The outfit to me was part of the key to the character. There's a vanity about him as well, and I suppose when you are a rock star, you can behave badly with a degree of impunity. All that physical stuff helped me find the character."
If Coogan impersonated a rock god in the guise of Hades, then he was blessed to share his stage - and magnificent mansion fashioned by production designer Howard Cummings - with screen goddess Rosario Dawson, who plays Hades' wife Persephone. Dawson was particularly intrigued by the couple's dynamic. "Theirs is a very caustic relationship," she notes. "She's stuck for several months of the year in the Underworld. And she hates it and hates Hades for it. I just see, in these characters, two people who are very comfortable at hating each other.
"Hades and Persephone live in the Underworld under Los Angeles, which is perfect because they're completely narcissistic," Dawson continues. "Modernizing them into this contemporary world fits so perfectly. I think it's interesting that they would create Hell under Los Angeles. I think it's quite poignant to see these two people, these gods, struggling and hating and fighting in Hell in a disastrous Hollywood-like marriage. Maybe that's what Hell is."
For the role of Persephone's father, Zeus, the supreme ruler of Olympus and the universe, the filmmakers chose the charismatic and commanding British actor Sean Bean. The role represents another epic portrait in Bean's diverse gallery of motion picture characterizations that includes Odysseus, the leader of the Greek Army that overthrows Troy, in Wolfgang Petersen's large-scale adventure "Troy," and the proud warrior Boromir in Peter Jackson's landmark "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy.
"I've always been quite interested in Greek Mythology, the myths and legends," Bean states. "I loved Zeus' jealousies and conflicts. It's not very often you get a chance to play the king of the gods, you know. Zeus is quite a charismatic, mischievous kind of god. He likes to have a good time with the ladies, and he likes to have a good time playing games. But he's also very powerful, dignified and regal."
Kevin McKidd, playing Zeus' brother and arch rival, Poseidon, was drawn to the project through his children. "I've never done anything that they've actually been allowed to watch because my earlier projects were far too grown-up," he explains. "And my son, funny enough, has now read the first three Percy Jackson books he is completely hooked. He's like a Percy Jackson expert. And I think the story and characters will resonate with all audiences."
Another big Percy Jackson draw is its gallery of creatures, chief among them the deadly Gorgon, Medusa, brought to life before the cameras by Uma Thurman. "I thought Uma would make a fascinating Medusa," Columbus recalls. "She is one of the most beautiful women in the world, yet at the same time she can create a real sense of fear and terror. I needed that combination for Medusa, someone who could entice you to look into her eyes because she was so hypnotic." "Medusa is both a contemporary and classical figure," says Thurman of her role. "She has a very modern attitude and style, but her head is covered with the traditional vision of Medusa: writhing snakes, which will turn an unfortunate onlooker into stone."
Thurman notes that Medusa is a complex character, whose abilities are both empowering and a curse. "I liked the idea that she is really being tormented by her loneliness, which is her punishment," Thurman explains. "You know, you can live forever, but it's not much of a life if every time you look someone in the eye, they turn to stone. Medusa is kind of a mad, lonely person wandering around in the museum of her life."
Barnathan remembers how hypnotic it was listening to Thurman's take on the character: "When Uma came in, she was like this ball of fire with her ideas. She had really thought about how she would interact with the snakes [that make up Medusa's 'hair']. We were all just in awe of her, listening to her talk about how she saw Medusa and how she would play the character."
While Thurman's mane of snakes is computer generated, Columbus arranged for a wrangler to bring in some live snakes for Thurman to handle during rehearsals. "I really enjoyed relating to the snakes," Thurman recalls. "I played Medusa like she's always alone, and so has only her snakes to talk to. The live snakes enabled me to figure out how to move and to embrace the crazed, monstrous aspects of the character."
Thurman's coiffure of computer generated snakes is one of many CG enhancements provided by visual effects supervisor Kevin Mack. In addition to Brosnan's mighty Centaur, the Oscar-winning effects wizard ("What Dreams May Come") also turned actor Brandon T. Jackson into a satyr - a half man, half goat. To bring the physical world of "Percy Jackson" to life, Columbus turned to veteran production designer Howard Cummings. Among several sets he designed for Columbus' epic fantasy story (he confirms he had, at one point in the schedule, eight different set builds going on simultaneously) was a replica of the Parthenon as it exists in Nashville's Parthenon Park, a massive stage set at Mammoth Studios where Columbus began production. (The company also built several sets on at North Shore Studios, the former Lions Gate lot in North Vancouver).
"The Parthenon was actually a full replica of the interior of the one built in Nashville," Cummings says about the majestic set. "The Parthenon was fun just for the sheer scale of it. We ended up going with lots of foam and different materials that were easily moveable."
One of the set's key components was an eye-catching, 30-foot statue of the goddess Athena, which was sculpted by Cummings' plasterers out of styrofoam in four separate sections, then stacked onto each other seamlessly within the massive columns of the Parthenon backdrop. Although comprised of the feathery foam, the entire sculpture, when finished, tipped the scales at over 1000 lbs.
Another of the story's significant sets was Camp Half Blood, the secret, hidden enclave, accessible only to those of immortal birth, where the demigods hone their fighting skills in preparation for their missions. Erected at a popular campsite in Golden Ears Provincial Park on the stunning and serene banks of Lake Alouette, Camp Half Blood's half dozen Greek-inspired tents were replete with swords and shields and armor, where residents of the North Beach area east of Vancouver would ordinarily see RVs and lawn chairs. Down by the lake, Cummings' crew built the most stunning edifice in the entire demigods' camp -- Poseidon's boat house, where Chiron reveals to Percy that his father is the god of the Sea and one of the Big Three Olympians.
Cummings and his team also created two versions of Mount Olympus for the story's climactic moments when Percy confronts the gods about the missing lightning bolt -- one that depicted Percy's point of view as a normal sized human framed against a pair of massive 33-foot doors that open onto the Olympians' throne room, and the opposite (180 degree) side of that same setting, that of the gigantic, 30-foot gods' inner sanctum, where the dozen deities wield their sovereignty. "In telling the story of Mount Olympus, it was all about scale," Cummings states. "Part of the story is that the gods are thirty feet high in relation to our hero, Percy. I purposely scaled down the gods' set to make the gods seem big. With a bit of trickery, it looks like it is two stories tall. And, the opposite is true for the moment when Percy arrives. Mount Olympus was about texture and age and a sense of feeling like it's been there forever."
The enormous Lotus Hotel and Casino set was built at Mammoth Studios' Stage 2 in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby. "In Lotus Hotel and Casino, which is also based on Greek Mythology, these kids come into this casino which at first appears to be a regular casino," Columbus explains. "It's like this gigantic, never-ending amusement park - the ultimate kids' fantasy. Our three heroes are served edible flowers, which when you eat them, induce forgetfulness and make you never want to leave. So, if you stay in Lotus Hotel and Casino, you never age, and you can stay there forever. They realize that they're trapped in Lotus Hotel and Casino, and five days pass like a minute. So they need to get out and recover the lightning bolt."
While Cummings tried to infuse his Mount Olympus designs with a sense of history, he turned to the world of fantasy in designing the gothic-like mansion, awash in shades of silver and black, from which Hades rules the Underworld. The spectacular mansion featured a huge fireplace and a modern grand piano worth about a half million dollars. The latter enforced Hades' guise of a burned out rock'n'roller as envisioned by Columbus and actor Steve Coogan.
Another key set was Medusa's Lair, a greenhouse/gardening emporium (named Auntie Em's in the film) where the deadly Gorgon attempts to thwart Percy's search for the missing bolt by turning him into stone with one deadly gaze. The Lair was erected in a shuttered suburban Vancouver greenhouse, where the filmmakers spun some magic with the help of hundreds of dead plants and shrubs, many of which were obtained for free from local growers after a late season frost in early spring rendered the foliage useless this fit well into the Gorgon's world, where legend has it her stare turns humans to stone.
This set provided the backdrop for Kevin Mack's wizardry with the CGI enhancement of Uma Thurman's depiction of the demonic Gorgon, whose coif is a nest of slithering snakes. Thurman donned a blue screen cap throughout her four days on-set in her embodiment of Medusa, over which Mack's movie magicians created the lock of reptiles. "During her work on set, you would see Uma touching her head and caressing the snakes, in terms of what they would be doing and how they would key off of her performance," Mack recalls. "It was just fantastic because she has such great imagination, which also contributes to the performance of the computer-generated aspect of the character."
Mack also created an eleven-foot Minotaur that attacks Percy and his mom on their way to Camp Half Blood. "The Minotaur won't be the traditional man with a bull's head, but fully half-man, half-bull with a bull-like body that can run on all fours," says Mack. Then, there are the Hell Hounds, the ghastly creatures that resemble deformed prehistoric canines guarding the entrance to Hades' mansion and the legendary, multi-headed Hydra that attacks the trio inside the Parthenon Museum.