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PopEntertainment.com > Feature Interviews - Actors > Features Interviews F to J > Brandon T. Jackson

 

Brandon T. Jackson

Goes Mythical On Us in Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters

by Jay S. Jacobs

 

Copyright 2013 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: December 18, 2013.

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 called Roll 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? 

There were some new actors in the sequel: Nathan Fillion, Anthony Head, Douglas Smith and Stanley Tucci.  How did they fit in with the cast who had worked before and what did they add to the film?

Oh, Stanley Tucci was amazing.  Very funny.  Very, very, very funny.  He did like 15 different takes of the same thing, but all of them were different.  We were trying not to laugh.  It was really cool.  It was really, really cool.  He's one of those actors that you just watch while you're in the scene with him.  You end up watching him.  He's really very talented.

So much of your role is dealing with CGI threats, like the Cyclops in this film or the hydra in The Lightning Thief.  Is it difficult to get into the mindset of fighting something that isn't actually physically there?

No, it's actually pretty easy.  When I was a kid, with my brothers we would play Ghostbusters and dumb stuff.  There would be nothing there and we would just act like it was.  I kept that same mindset when I was acting.  They would say there was something there and you have to act like there is.  It's in your mind.  If you've got any imagination, then I guess you leave it up to the actors to make it up for themselves so that it can read onto the audience. 

To a certain extent, being a protector is a bit of a tough gig sort of like being a secret service agent you have to sacrifice your wants and needs and even your life potentially to make sure that Percy is safe.  Do you think you would ever take the gig in real life?

I would never compare acting to the secret service.  But you do give up a part of your life.  If there was something you love, then yeah, definitely I would do it.  For the betterment of people and things?  Definitely.  Definitely.

The Percy Jackson books are so popular and there are lots of them.  Any word on a third movie yet?

There's not.  I mean, not that I know of.  (laughs)  But you know how it is, they are probably working on the script secretly right now without telling us. 

Maybe Grover will get a spin-off where he can just hang with the daughters of Aphrodite?

(laughs)  Yes.  That would be a movie.  I would love it.

What is harder to act against a cyclops or Martin Lawrence in a dress?

Oh, God.  (laughs)  Both of them are funny, man.  Very funny.  When I saw Adam Sandler do it, I knew everyone is doing the shtick.  It's kind of funny.  I can't really say.  I think they are both hilarious.  One's a CGI character and one's a regular guy. 

So when you were young, what comedians inspired you to give stand-up a try?

Eddie. Always Eddie Murphy.  I was always a [Richard] Pryor and [George] Carlin fan.  That's it, really.  Mitch Hedberg, of course.  I was always a Mitch Hedberg fan.  But who really inspired me was like Eddie, Richard, Chris Rock and George Carlin were the ones. 

Speaking of Eddie, any word on what is happening with the Beverly Hills Cop series?  I believe you filmed the pilot episode, any word on a pick-up yet?

The series didn't go.  For political reasons, but I maybe can't get into that so much.  They are doing a film.  I know the script just got done.  I don't know what's going on.  I just know that Brett Ratner signed on as director and Jerry Bruckheimer is going to produce it. 

Oh, okay, so you're going to do it as a film...

Well, I think I'm going to do it as a film.  I don't know what's going on.  I haven't heard any word yet, so I'm just waiting to see which direction they are going in.  Either way, I'll be supportive of Eddie Murphy.  I think he's a great talent. 

I also read you have a movie called Approaching Midnight that just came out.  What was that about?

No.  No.  No.  That's not a movie that I'm in.  I'm not in that movie. 

You're not?  Oh, I'm sorry, it said online that you were...

No, no, no, it's not your fault.  It's a stalker I have.  This is a true story.  This guy went to high school with me and he's been trying to do films for a long time.  Literally he filmed the movie when we were in high school.  I guess as a movie he finally got it done and he said I was in it for some reason, because we went to high school [together].  Yeah, it's the weirdest thing.  They won't take it off IMDB at all.  And they say I'm in The Smurfs 2.  I don't know, the references, I don't get why [they would do that.]  I can't understand it and you can't take them off either, so... I don't know.  You can put anything on the internet. 

Stand-up and acting are such different art forms, but how do you feel that your stage experience has helped you as an actor?

Right now, I'm about to come out with my first comedy special.  It's going to help me a little bit more because I think it's... well, I can't say it's hot, because people haven't heard it yet, but I'm working on the hottest album I can do.  I know that's so vague to say, but it's true to me.  It's true to who I am.  

You've also done a bit of music in the past.  Is that something you'd like to explore some more?

No, not really.  If I would, it would be for fun.  I get too serious and I'll end up being a rapper for [a long time].  It would be for fun.  I don't know, music is a love of mine that I really can't obtain the way [I would like].  I love music, but I don't have an understanding for it like I do comedy.  I understand comedy to the fullest.  And acting.  I understand both arts.  When I read a script, I see the movie like I'm in it.   I see it.  It pops off the page.  I'm really in it.  I listen to music and it's just kind of a love that I have, but I don't know the science of it like I should know it if I was very passionate about it.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

Ooh, that's a good question.  I don't think people know how raw I am as an individual.  What I mean by that is I think my image as the character I play is totally different from who I am in real life.  When people see who I am in real life, they're like: "Who's this guy?"  And I'm definitely a relationship-type dude.  I'm like that.  I'm a real, real romantic at heart with a girlfriend.  People don't know that I'm kind of a sucker for love.   

What kind of things make you nostalgic?

Hmm, they're good questions.  Smells.  The air.  If I go to New York, the city makes me nostalgic. 

How would you like for people to see your career?

Greatness.  Greatness.  I hope I can put forward the work that greatness can come out.  You've got to put forward the work.

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Copyright 2013 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: December 18, 2013

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Copyright 2013 PopEntertainment.com.  All rights reserved.  Posted: December 18, 2013.