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PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS

About the Production
Percy Jackson isn't feeling very heroic. The half-human son of Poseidon -- the Greek god of the sea -- once saved the world, but Percy's starting to think that might have been a fluke. Is he a flash in the pan... a one-quest wonder?

When Percy learns he has a half-brother who's a monster, he wonders if being the son of Poseidon might be more of a curse than a blessing. But Percy doesn't have much time to brood; the magical borders of Camp Half-Blood are beginning to fall and a horde of mythical monsters threatens to destroy the sanctuary for the children of the gods.

In order to save the demigods' haven, Percy and his friends must find the fabled and magical Golden Fleece. Their journey takes them to Washington, D.C. and on to the Florida coast, where they set sail on a treacherous odyssey into the uncharted, deadly waters of the Sea of Monsters, known to humans as the Bermuda Triangle.

They are challenged by a giant mechanical fire-breathing bull, terrifying sea creatures, a gigantic Cyclops, and other demigods of uncertain allegiances. The stakes are higher than ever and if Percy doesn't succeed, Camp Half-Blood will cease to exist and all of Olympus will crumble.

Author Rick Riordan, who taught Greek Mythology for many years in middle school in California and Texas, came up with the idea for the first Percy Jackson . This 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'-er-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'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."

The book was published in 2005, but 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.

Little did Riordan realize that the big screen version of his first novel, Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief become a global box-office and home entertainment hit. The film, directed by Chris Columbus, who is executive producer on PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS, was enjoyed by millions around the world, including filmmaker Thor Freudenthal. After viewing "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief," began reading the books and became a fan. "I found a lot of emotion and an irreverent, whimsical tone in the books," he says. "The amazing trick that [author] Rick Riordan pulls off is having fun at a very fast pace and not always taking himself too seriously. But he never sacrifices the emotional core, which is a bunch of kids who have a heavy burden to carry: they have parents who are larger than life and are mostly absent. I'm a sucker for big emotions in a movie, and I also love a healthy sense of humor to go along with it. Both the books and this movie embody those notions."

Freudenthal says he wanted to depict the overlap of the real and mythological worlds. "PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS shows new aspects of Camp Half-Blood; we wanted to paint a full picture of the beautiful sanctuary for the Half-Bloods and create magic."

The notion of a teen realizing he or she is, well, not entirely from this earth, was irresistible to screenwriter Marc Guggenheim. "Who wouldn't want to grow up and one day learn you are a demigod?" he asks. And Percy is a compelling and relatable lead demigod. "He's so pure of heart," adds Guggenheim. "Percy is cool, has a sense of humor and a little swagger, but at the end of the day he always does the right thing."

Guggenheim and Freudenthal remained true to the spirit of the book, while making necessary adjustments in translating it for the big screen. "There were some things that had to change [in adapting the book] because the structure of a book is very different than the structure of a movie," Guggenheim explains. "But we always drew inspiration from the book."

One of the biggest challenges in the adaptation, says Guggenheim, is that, "the tones of the novel are very specific and, once you put them up on a movie screen, there's a danger that they'll feel incongruous with each other: the seriousness of the threat of [the uber-villainous] Kronos might feel at odds with the wild and zany aspects of some of the other characters. The challenge is making sure that those tones complement rather than clash with one another. Our director, Thor, always had a very clear vision for how every piece of the movie should fit together."

With so many of the young cast members having worked together before on "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief," there was significant on-set camaraderie. "It was a lot of fun," says Lerman. "We all became really tight on the first film, and we were looking forward to making this new one. I'm really appreciative of all the fans and everyone that liked the first 'Percy Jackson' film enough to warrant a sequel."

Lerman returns as the titular hero, the demigod son of Poseidon, who embarks on his own, modern-day Odyssey. "At the beginning of this film, Percy is not living up to his potential and he doubts himself," says Lerman. "Percy feels abandoned by his father, the Greek god Poseidon, and then, he finds out that he has a brother."

If shocking family revelations weren't enough, Percy must deal with Polyphemus, an enormous and powerful Cyclops; Charybdis, the sea monster; the raging Colchis Bull, a giant, metallic and fire-breathing creature that attacks Camp Half-Blood; the Manticore, a formidable monster with a lion's body and a long, scorpion-like tail; and the ancient Oracle, an ancient mummified mystic with empty eye sockets and skeletal features. The Oracle further complicates Percy's sense of self and duty, says Lerman, when it tells him he "is either going to destroy Olympus or save it. He's not sure if he can rise to the occasion."

Percy has a lot at stake, according to Freudenthal. "He's trying to save Camp Half-Blood and prove himself as a hero. He's grown distant from his father, who is not really responding to his requests for help. Percy embarks upon his 'odyssey' for two reasons: to save his home, and to ascertain if he is indeed a hero."

Alexandra Daddario returns as Annabeth Chase, the demigod offspring of Athena, goddess of wisdom, the role she created in "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief." "One of the most enjoyable aspects of the first film was accessing a bad-ass quality that you don't really get to access in your real life. It's been a great experience being able to do that," says the actress.

But in PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS, Daddario notes, "We see more of Annabeth's sensitive side. In the first she was very tough; in this one we see a lot more of her vulnerability."

Brandon T. Jackson reprises the role of Grover, Percy Jackson's satyr friend. Jackson explains that in Greek mythology, satyrs, which are half man, half goat, "are mischievous. They are fun-loving characters and very protective of the earth. Grover has a lot of heart. He would do anything to save Camp Half-Blood, and he would give his life for Percy because they're best friends."

Jackson admits that reprising a character "is challenging because you've got to bring growth to the character. In this film, Grover is a little older; he's got his horns now. Grover doesn't want to go on this quest because it could actually kill him. But he has to because a satyr guide is required to find the Golden Fleece. "He's not scared, but he knows his life is in danger with Polyphemus, the gigantic Cyclops in possession of the Golden Fleece," Jackson continues. "Grover would rather stay at home and chill at Camp Half-Blood. Polyphemus is like Kryptonite to him. He eats satyrs for breakfast!"

Jake Abel is back as Luke, the first film's "lightning thief," and the son of Hermes, the messenger of the gods. "Demigods are the sons and daughters of gods and human beings," says Abel. "They inherit the powers or characteristics of their god parent. Luke, being the son of Hermes, is very mischievous and a quick thinker. He's mercurial, enigmatic and devious.

"In this first film, Luke stole Zeus' lightning bolt, and PERCY JACKSON: SEA OF MONSTERS is a continuation of his journey, rebelling against his father," Abel continues. "Feeling angry, forgotten and neglected, he wants to show the gods who's boss, and Luke comes up with a plan to end the reign of the gods and, in the process, bring some of the demigods over to the dark side."

Luke, like Percy, seeks the Golden Fleece, but for a very different reason. "Luke wants to bring back the ultimate, original evil, which is Kronos, the Titan who was overthrown by his sons," says Abel. "With the Fleece, Luke can resurrect Kronos and bring him back to life. Luke believes Kronos will promise him everything and help him bring down Olympus and conquer the world."

On his journey to battle Luke and retrieve the Golden Fleece, Percy discovers he has a half-brother, Tyson, who is a Cyclops. "Tyson is a sweet, teenage Cyclops," says Freudenthal. "Cyclopes are viewed as monsters, but everything about Tyson is the opposite of that."

"Tyson is a warrior, of sorts," says Douglas Smith, who plays the one-eyed teen. "He's a really soulful, salt of the earth Cyclops. Tyson is one of those people who seem overly simple but he's actually got a deep wisdom. It comes in handy in the quest because he's got a variety of skills that only Cyclopes have. He's a good guy, and identifies more with the Half-Bloods than with the other Cyclopes, who like to eat demigods. Tyson looks like a villain, but he has a heart of gold and that can be very confusing when people meet him. And it's confusing for him, too."

Like Percy, Tyson is a son of Poseidon, but while Percy's mother is human, Tyson's mother was a sea nymph. Smith describes the sibling relationship: "Percy and Tyson are half-brothers, but Tyson doesn't like to harp on that. Percy doesn't expect to have a brother show up at camp, he doesn't expect to bring him along on the journey, and he does not expect to be won over by Tyson's optimism and point of view, which is fresh and filled with wonder. Ultimately, Percy realizes that Poseidon is looking out for him, because he sent Tyson to Percy."

Initially, the filmmakers planned to give Smith a prosthetic eye, but they decided to create the eye mostly through visual effects. The prosthetic shrank in size from a full facemask to a small forehead application that created the effect of a single brow, which Smith only had to sport when Tyson wears sunglasses. And, as in the book, an application of magical mist creates the illusion of Tyson having two eyes; for those scenes, Smith wears only his own visage.

The newest demigod at Camp Half-Blood is Clarisse LaRue, daughter of Ares, the god of war. Leven Rambin plays Clarisse, whom she says is, "innately prone to fighting, competition and being the best. She always wants to prove herself to her father, who wanted a son, so she's trying to live up to that."

"Clarisse contributes to Percy's feelings of inadequacy and makes him question his abilities and whether he belongs in Camp Half-Blood," says Freudenthal. "Clarisse is insecure, and that's why she has such an attitude. It's her insecurity that someone's going to best her or embarrass her that drives her to feel the need to bully people."

Anthony Head portrays Percy's mentor, Chiron, a Centaur -- half-man and half-horse. "Centaurs like drinking and partying, and Chiron is completely the opposite; he's learned and kind," says Head, who is best known for his role as the mentor to the heroine of the television series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." "Chiron treats Percy like a son. He's noble and at the same time, possesses some darkness because he is Kronos' son. And Kronos is the 'big bad' who is basically responsible for all the things wrong in the world of Percy Jackson."

Academy Award -nominee and Golden Globe and Emmy Award -winner Stanley Tucci plays Dionysus, known as Mr. D to the young residents at Camp Half-Blood. "He's the god of wine, and hedonism," notes Tucci. "I like wine and I thought it was appropriate for me to take the role; there was no need for research!" he quips.

"Zeus has put a curse on Mr. D and every time he tries to have some wine, it turns into water," Tucci continues. "He's also not happy about being in a position of responsibility. Mr. D is miserable and a terrible leader. He can't remember anybody's name, and he's probably more scared than the students are. Mr. D is a wreck and should not be in this position -- and that's what made the role so much fun for me." To embody the hirsute and heavyset figure, Tucci sports a moustache, beard, wig, and a fake paunch.

Nathan Fillion, an iconic figure to sci-fi fans from his work in the series "Firefly" and the movie based upon it, "Serenity," joins the Olympians as Hermes, messenger of the Gods. To humans, Hermes appears as a UPS worker; to the young Olympians, he is a gorgeously-tailored businessman who takes the Half-Bloods on a tour of his colossal parcel sorting hub.

Hermes is the father of demigod Luke. "Luke is causing all the trouble, and they need to find him," says Fillion. "Luke is a troubled kid and it breaks Hermes' heart a little bit. But we see that they're not heartless gods. There is a modicum of feeling there."

Fillion had seen "Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief" and recalls being pleased when he heard they were making a second. He admits, "It's neat, having an inner nerd and being a fan of something and then getting to participate."

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