How the cast of the new Percy Jackson series went from fans to heroes


After 10 years, the best-selling book series Percy Jackson and the Olympians is returning to screens, this time on Disney+.

Based on author Rick Riordan’s fictional world of Greek mythology, the show follows the quest of Percy Jackson, played by Walker Scobell, as he discovers he’s the half-human son of Poseidon. 

Together with his friends Annabeth (Leah Sava Jeffries), the daughter of Athena, and Grover (Aryan Simhadri), a satyr, he fights gods and monsters to stop a full-blown war.

Scobell thinks his character’s struggles with school and making friends can be relatable.

“Percy doesn’t really have a place until he learns he is half-blood, which is really important. It shows that everyone has a place,” the actor told CBC News. 

Walker Scobell says it was intimidating to play the role of Percy Jackson because his own passion for the books set a high bar. (David Bukach/Disney Plus)

The Disney+ series, which premieres Wednesday, comes more than a decade after the five books inspired a film version. Despite the large fan base, just two movies were made.

This time author Riordan was heavily involved in the series as a co-creator with Jonathan E. Steinberg.

Riordan said last month on social media that producing the show was “harder and more time-consuming than anything I’ve ever done.”

He said he wanted to make sure the series followed the books as much as possible.

WATCH | The official trailer for Percy Jackson and the Olympians:

Jeffries says having Riordan on the set helped her gain confidence in her role.

“I was excited, but I was still worried because this character had already been played before — so what if they wanted me to be like that?” Jeffries said. “But when Mr. Rick told me ‘just be yourself,’ it gave me relief.”

Scobell was such a fan of the books he read the series seven times. That meant the bar was high to create a show he’d like.

“It was a little bit intimidating because I want something that I can watch myself,” he told CBC News, noting he was encouraged by the massive support from fans.

Long road to casting

Finding the right three actors to lead the series took more than a year, Riordan wrote on his website.

It also meant making sure the cast was diverse.

In May 2022, Riordan announced the new stars. Soon after, he posted a note on his website, denouncing racist reactions from some fans who complained that Annabeth was Black. In the books, Annabeth is described as white. 

A young teen stands in an armor.
Leah Sava Jeffries says author Rick Riordan, who wrote the books the show is based on and also produced the series, gave her advice on set that helped her be confident in her role as Annabeth. (David Bukach/Disney)

At the time, Jeffries shared her thoughts in a video on social media. “I know you think it’s going to hurt me — it’s not,” she said. “You’re just wasting your time. I’m still confident in myself.” 

Riordan also acknowledged the largely positive response to the news.

“Leah brings so much energy and enthusiasm to this role, so much of Annabeth’s strength,” he wrote at the time. 

WATCH | The stars of Percy Jackson talk about filming the show: 

Cast of Percy Jackson and the Olympians share their experience shooting the show

The cast of Percy Jackson and the Olympians sat down with CBC News’s Eli Glasner to discuss their experience shooting the new eight-part TV series set to premiere on Disney+ Dec. 20.

B.C. LED studio 

The series was brought to life in Burnaby, B.C., at the world’s largest LED studio, which uses a massive curved screen made of LED lights to allow the creation of complex digital scenes.

Simhadri said that during filming at the impressive studio, he developed a special way of moving to best play his character, a satyr.

A young teen stands in the rain.
Aryan Simhadri, who plays Grover the satyr, says he was impressed by the studio where the series was shot. (David Bukach/Disney)

“Pretend like you’re falling and then catch yourself with the ball of your foot at the very last moment,” he said with a laugh. 

The series also stars Toby Stephens as Poseidon and Jay Duplass as Hades. Zeus is portrayed by the late Lance Reddick, who starred in the John Wick films and The Wire

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