Brandon T. Jackson Goes Mythical On Us in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters
by Jay S. Jacobs
One day you are a raw, upcoming stand-up comedian making a name for himself in the clubs. A few years later, people think you may have goat legs.
Show biz can be a crazy gig.
Brandon T. Jackson wouldn’t have it any other way.
Though he wasn’t looking to get into the movies, the movies came to him. He was only 19 years old when he was cast in a standout part in the drama Roll Bounce. Jackson never looked back, putting together a quirky body of work which has included starring opposite of Martin Lawrence in Big Momma: Like Father Like Son, outshining his high-wattage co-stars in the all-star action comedy Tropic Thunder and laying rubber in the original The Fast and the Furious.
However, Jackson may be best known for his role in the two Percy Jackson (no relation) movies – and this is where the goat legs come in. Based upon the popular young adult book series about the children of Greek Gods, Jackson plays Grover – the title character’s best friend and protector. In keeping with the mythological bent of the series, Grover is a magical creature, a satyr, with the body of a man and the hindquarters of a goat.
The first Percy Jackson film – Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief – was released in 2010 and became an international success. The follow-up title – Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters – was released earlier this year and is just reaching video and pay-per-view.
In the meantime, Jackson is returning to his first love: putting the finishing touches on his first comedy special.
The day before Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters had its video release, we caught up with Jackson to discuss the role and his career.
You got started in stand-up comedy. How did you decide to make the jump to acting?
You know what? It kind of decided for me. (chuckles) I did stand-up and I got an agent. They sent me out on auditions. My second audition I went out [for] was a Fox movie. It was calledRoll Bounce. I was 19 at the time and they just chose me. (laughs) I’ve learned at this point that anything I do is out of my hands. I’ve just got to go with it.
Were you familiar with the Percy Jackson books before taking the role of Grover?
No, I wasn’t. When I got the movie, I read all the books. Well, actually, I read four of them, to be honest. I didn’t read all seven. I read four because I thought we were going to shoot the movies back-to-back. I just hurried up and read three and when I was shooting I read the fourth. That’s when I found out about the books. They were cool.
How weird is it to see yourself onscreen with goat legs?
Honestly, I’m used to it now. The first time, I’m like: What? It’s just funny, because even my friends they’ll take their kids to see it and be like: “Where’s your goat legs at?” I’m like: Dude, chill out. I don’t have no goat legs. It’s not real. It’s funny, parents, when they see me, they’re like: “Look, see I told you. He has real legs!” I’m like, yes, I do. Not to mention, my real legs are hairy, so you get them mixed up with the goat legs. (laughs)
Obviously satyrs are mythical creatures, so it’s not like you can go out and ride around with one to see what they are like. How much did you have to look into the mythology of satyrs when preparing for your role and how much did you just bring from your imagination?
I looked at a lot of Greek pictures. They were always having fun. Playing the flute. Hanging with girls. Playing music. Then I looked at Prince. Prince reminds me of a satyr. (laughs) I think Prince could be one in real life. I think he’s a mythical creature. I swear, I do, I don’t know why. He just reminds me [of it.] But they always play music and laugh and I said, okay, this character has a very sweet spirit. Kind of fun. I just took on that with the character. Even though this [film] was kind of serious – Part 1 was more fun and crazy – this one was more like… they stuck to the quest and there wasn’t a lot of joking around. It was one of those situations where I had to make pictures in my mind and put it all together.
Like you said, this film is more serious, but even so Grover is there for comic relief more than pretty much anyone else. Is it fun to know that your character is going to get some of the best lines in the film?
Yeah. Honestly, yes. I do like the fact that when you do have all this action, if you can do action and comedy together, that’s kind of cool. It’s always fun.
I interviewed Alexandra [Daddario] a couple of years ago. What are she and Logan [Lerman] like to work with?
They’re cool man. Everybody is like a family. Everyone’s cool. We go out to eat. We hang out. Everyone is busy, too, so we’re always encouraging each other to keep working, you know what I mean?