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Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief - Alexandra Daddario interview

Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief

Interview by Cassam Looch

ALEXANDRA Daddario talks about appearing in Percy Jackson & The Lightning Thief, getting into shape for her physical, sword-wielding role, working with Chris Columbus and her experience on the set of The Squid & The Whale.

Q. The books aren’t well-known in the UK, can you tell us a bit about them?
Alexandra Daddario: As a child I loved fantasy books, I loved Harry Potter and the idea that there is something ‘out there’ is inspiring to kids and inspiring to me. It’s exciting and I think people can relate to it. Even if things are difficult or bad for you, the idea that there is something special within you is positive and true.

Q. Did you enjoy the action and swordplay involved with your character on-screen?
Alexandra Daddario: I loved it. I didn’t do a lot of training beforehand but we did a lot in the period of time after casting because I came on board after the boys. They had a lot of trouble finding the character so I only came in three weeks before filming. So, I had three weeks to go from light jogging to intensive sword fights for 12 hours a day! I was lucky that I got into shape so quickly and we had an amazing stunt team… at first I didn’t look very good with a sword and I’m supposed to be a bad-ass, so I had to learn the techniques to look good on-screen and appear real and intense. I think it’s empowering.

Q. There seem to be some quite strong female characters in the fantasy films of recent years, is that important to you?
Alexandra Daddario: It’s very important. I read a lot of scripts for women who are the girlfriends, or ‘hot girl’, or a side note and are just there to wear a dress. There aren’t that many strong characters for women or strong leading roles… there are only some films based around women. I think I lucked out with a fully-developed character in my first big movie. I think there will be more.

Q. What sort of character do you mean by a ‘side note’?
Alexandra Daddario: The sort of girls that are stood in the background in a dress… you know like the side note you put into an essay or something.

Q. And how does being attached to a franchise like this feel?
Alexandra Daddario: Well, I’m just grateful to be working. We’re attached to do three movies so if all five in the series come out we should be very wealthy by the fourth one [Laughs]. I’m joking of course… we’ll just see how it goes and then obviously I think there will be some changes… they did that with Twilight as well because I think Robert Pattinson’s character isn’t in one of the books and they wanted him in the film, so there have to be some changes along the way from books to the screen.

Q. This must have been very different for you from The Squid & The Whale?
Alexandra Daddario: I have a very small part in that movie, people keep crediting me for that because they can’t find anything else. I was one of the kids in that and probably on-set for about a week. I did get to work with some great people and be on set so that was, of course, a great experience. I do like working on television but I prefer film. I just want to work mainly but the pace on a movie is slower and you get to form more of a family. There is more time to work with whereas TV is faster paced.

Q. Christopher Columbus is renowned for working well with young cast members from his previous films, did you find that to be helpful on set?
Alexandra Daddario: Chris is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, so honest and genuine. I’m from New York and it felt like a breath of fresh air talking to him, he has such an excitement about him that it is contagious. I’ve never seen a film set that happy and comfortable… it’s wonderful. Everyone was great on it though… we had long days and nights of filming yet very rarely was anything stressful or miserable.

Q. What was the most challenging thing for you on set?
Alexandra Daddario: Just from moving to where I was in my life to working on a huge film like this was a challenge. The physical aspect as well at the start but it wasn’t stressful because I was so happy to be there. I have no idea what I’m doing next but it’s proving to be a great journey so far.

Read our review of Percy Jackson

Read our interview with Brandon T. Jackson