Teenagers are hard to come by in Hollywood. I don't mean nineteen-year-olds pretending to be in high school; I mean real live honest-to-god teenagers. Logan Lerman, at seventeen, is one of them. He's certainly sharp, but he hasn't let the industry age him to the point of being an adolescent with the maturity of a 40-year-old; he's his age—he's simply intelligent. He's also articulate, talented, and portraying George Hamilton in My One And Only, a film very loosely based on Hamilton's own adolescence. Here he sits down to talk about the film and about the others he has coming up.
Earlier in the day you were saying—Logan, is this the first time you’ve done this kind of press drill?
Oh, no, no, no, no, no. No-o-o. I’ve done this for a long time. I’ve done this kind of stuff, but it’s been a while; that’s what I meant. I’ve been away in work mode for the past… actually, it’s really been since December that I’ve been working on this one movie, trying to make it the best that I can make it, being really collaborative and just in that zone the whole time. So going back to doing press is just such a—such a—
It’s exciting, but it’s a slap in the face because to process that you have to get used to it. It’s not something you can just jump into and feel comfortable; you have to build that comfort zone.
What was the movie?
That I was gone for? It’s called Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. It’s a cool film. Really awesome.
Since two years old you wanted to be an actor—
I don’t know if that’s true.
Oh, okay. [laughter]
To be totally honest, there’s all this stuff that my friends and family—they go online and they go to those little biographies where people type in wherever they want, and I really don’t know what’s true. I don’t play soccer; that’s not true. I don’t do any of that stuff. I’m not named after Wolverine. [laughter] Or any crap like that. Most of it’s bullshit. But I probably did; I probably wanted to when I was two. I started when I was seven, technically, because I just wanted to get out of school and do something else. I’m a creative person; I don’t like to be in a classroom very much. I teach myself everything, usually, and when I was like twelve years old my mom sat me down and said, “Do you really want to do this?” and I said, “Yeah. I really do. I actually have a passion.” So that’s when I really started. And I sound like an ass for saying that. [laughter] Started really young. Sorry.
Are you homeschooled?
No. Oh, no, no, no. I go to a regular school, yeah. I go to high school.
Earlier Renee Zellweger said that she hadn’t met George Hamilton until a few days ago. That she had done all this work—
Oh, I just met him maybe an hour ago. [laughter] Just a little while ago.
And you play him!
Yeah—which is strange, right? To say that.
Did you know who he was as an actor before going into this?
I mean, everybody knows who he is, right? His tan is so famous. His face is so famous. I had seen Zorro: The Gay Blade and movies like that beforehand. And, yeah, I knew who he was but nobody knew his background. And I did want to meet him. I did want to meet him when we were in preproduction for the movie; every little thing helps, right? But I didn’t have the chance. Or he didn’t have the chance. It just didn’t work out. Something happened. No, but it also gave me the opportunity to take what was on the written page and make it my own a little more. Figure out how I wanted to play the character, that kind of thing.
So I assume he’s seen you in the movie, right?
Well, I hope so! [laughter] Oh, no, I’ve been hearing from everybody and he even sat down with me—I walked into his room where he was doing his interviews, and I said, “Hi, nice to meet you,” and we sat down and he said that he really loved the movie and the performance and was really moved by it, and that’s just the nicest thing you could ever hear from anybody, especially the person you’re portraying. So that’s a burden taken away from me. But would he say if he didn’t like it? Probably not. He probably wouldn’t go out to the press and say, “Hey, guys, I didn’t like the kid who played me in this movie!” [laughter]
Now that you’ve met him and played him in a film, what would you ask about him? Like, “Did you really…?”
Oh, no, I know that most of it was fictional. The overall storyline and central characters are real, but most of it was written by Charlie Peters and I think a lot of it came from his personal life. It’s kind of like a cross of both of them. Don’t quote me on—[gesturing to the recorders] oh, you will. [laughter] But I’m not positive that it is; that’s what I think. It’s kind of a mystery.
So Renee plays your mom in your movie…
I’ve gotten the chance to know her really well. And Mark Rendall. Whenever you do a movie you’re forced into bonding with all these people and whether you like them or not you’re going to be with them for a long time. But fortunately we all really loved each other, and that’s one of the big things about the preparation for a movie like this. Despite the time period or the hairstyle or the way people talk or walk or whatever or dress, it’s more about if you can actually bond or become a little family for the time that you’re working. So we all got along really well, and she’s one of the sweetest people you’ll ever meet. She’s a great person.
Did she… bring cookies to the set? [laughter] Have a nurturing side?
Um… she was very motherly. I mean, instead of cookies it would be glasses. I swear to god, I think her way of showing affection to me was—I swear she’d come so often and buy me glasses. I think I said “I don’t look good in glasses” once, and every day after that she’d come and—“Here’s Ray-Bans. Here’s this pair.” Sunglasses. We all went to a concert together.
What did you see?
John Mayer. It was amazing. We all went. Mark and I and her… it was a good time.
Seeing as the movie involves a road trip, were you moving around a lot on this shoot?
Not really. We were in Baltimore. I guess during the… I know, right? You wouldn’t really think it, being that it takes place in so many different places. With one exception: we shot a week in New Mexico. And she… oh, what am I saying? Not “she”, sorry. Baltimore during the turn of the century had so much money because it was a big port town, so they built a lot in the early 1900s, and a lot of it’s still there so it was really easy to dress the city as if it took place in the time period that it’s supposed to, so it’s got that older feel. It’s nice.
Could you talk about working with Mark Rendall? Because you two had such a great relationship in the film and such a great brotherly camaraderie.
Well, it’s all about the comfort level. And you do have to build that artificial comfort level, so you can do your job and try different things and experiment, but there’s also that comfort level of knowing the person so you can play off of each other and know how they’re going to react and have the freedom to do it. So, Mark and I, we would hang out all the time and we got to know each other really well. Same with Renee; it became very comfortable to work together. And we all knew our characters very well, so…
Do you have brothers and sisters?
Oh, yes I do. Older brother, older sister.
So how do they view you as a brother in this film? Do they go “Yeah, you’re just like that!” or “You’d never do that”?
Oh, wait, you said you haven’t seen the full movie.
Well, I’ve seen a rough cut without music. I’m not sure what they added in, if they added anything else in, or cut parts out, or… but I saw a version that was pretty much cut together but it wasn’t the final product. And it was great. But it can only get better from there, so I’m excited to see it tonight.
And your brother and sister, are they—?
My family and friends, when they see the movies, they’re like, “…Man…” [laughter] “…You’re nothing like that in real life.” It’s a really strange thing because working’s a whole different life. I remember talking with mark about this while we were filming a while ago, and I wonder if he’ll remember this conversation but we were out and we were like, “Yeah, when you get on a plane and you’re going to shoot a film, it’s kind of like—like dying and a rebirth into a new life. You’re in a whole different environment; it’s the Hollywood environment, where it’s like fantasy land. And when you go home it’s like a slap of reality—where you’re really from and your real family and your really friends—and when you look back at these movies it’s a little strange. It’s like living a whole different life and then going back to your normal life. So when you’re with your family and friends and you’re seeing those movies it’s strange to think that you lived that life for a period of time. [laughs] So it’s kind of weird to watch it.
Seeing as you were playing a young adult in the forties and fifties, were there differences that you tried to incorporate into your performance?
A little bit. It would have been more drastic if I had been playing… a more… troubled rascal. Back then in comparison to now, those would be some dramatic differences. But, really, George was a very complex character but at the same time he was just a deadpan, really serious guy. Realistic—which could also be taken as pessimistic. So it wasn’t like I had to really play a character from that period of time… rather than sport the look and play a character that was complex for any time period. It drags on into many eras; I can’t really explain—but it’s a very complex character.
And your character was also very literarily-minded and especially into The Catcher in the Rye. Was that something that you related to?
Well, I loved the book. I loved The Catcher in the Rye. One of the big parts of preparation for this role was reading the book a couple times, over and over and over again, because that’s what he did. Of course he takes the book with him on the trip and tries to see if his mother notices that he’s even reading it; The Catcher in the Rye kind of shapes the way that he thinks, so it’s a pretty big part of his character development.
And you’d read it before you did this?
Yeah. It’s a, a must-read in school; it’s on the list of books you have to read. I think it was a couple of years before doing the movie that I read it. I loved it.
Do you have a book that shapes you?
Not George Hamilton’s autobiography, or…? [laughter]
No, I’m shaped by movies. I’m a movie person. That’s all I do is I watch films. Movies kind of influence me.
Well, just movies I love. The Eternal Sunshine [of the Spotless Mind]; you could say American Beauty; you could say Defending Your Life… I don’t know. Just movies that are I really enjoyed.
And what else?
I—a whole long list. I’d bore you for hours. I will. Yeah. [laughter] Just movies that really—
We’ve only got twenty minutes. You wouldn’t be able to go on for hours. [laughter]
Oh, okay! I’ll just keep on naming films and then you’ll have nothing left but just a long list of films—
Let’s talk about Percy Jackson, because this is supposed to be a big deal, right?
Yeah, it is. It is.
It’s a putter-onner? On… the map? Putting you on the map?
It could be. The truth is that I take the best things that are given to me at the time. So I just want to do the good movies. It’s not the kind of movie that you do to just—I mean, some people do it to just get your face out more or something like that. The truth is that, when I read it, Chris Columbus—I mean, I saw Chris Columbus was doing it, and I was like, “Oh, I wanna work with this guy.” I’m such a big fan of The Goonies. And Harry Potter. And Mrs. Doubtfire and the Home Alone films. I’m like, “You know what? He could make a really cool movie. I want to be a part of that.” Because those are the movies that make me jealous that I wasn’t a part of that or didn’t make them. So I met him and we just hit it off right away, and it’s the most collaborative feel when you’re working with him. We would just sit around and talk all the time. I’d force him into meetings. [laughter] And we’d just talk about everything, whether it be the movie or personal; we just really got to know each other very well. And we made an awesome movie. All of us. Everybody who was a part of it.
So it’s done?
We finished shooting like a week ago and now they’re into the post-production and digital effects and it’s just mind-blowing. It’s going to blow people’s minds when they see this. It’s unlike anything they’ve ever seen in a long time. To me it brings back movies like—well, it’s different, but it has the tone of a Back to the Future. Or a Goonies. You know, it’s got that tone. People don’t know much about it yet, but once it starts getting out there and the trailer comes out I think people are just going to fall in love with it. It’s an incredible movie and we’re really proud of it.
It’s been compared a lot to—
To Harry Potter?
To Harry Potter, yeah.
Well, that’s only because Chris did it. And there’s that similarity where a kid finds out that he’s… the son of… I mean, I find out that I’m the son of a god in the movie, but it’s like the kid-thrown-into-a-big-situation kind of thing. But it’s pretty different. I mean, of course there are similarities in storyline, but the tone is completely different. The movie’s way more mature than Harry Potter. It’s… just complete entertainment. It’s the perfect movie to go see if you want to be entertained. It’s awesome. [laughs] I’m so proud of this movie. I’m sorry.
You’ve gotta go see it when it comes out.
What about Gamer?
Gamer is awesome. I did that movie about three years ago. It was a really long time ago when we shot that. And it’s taken a really long time for it to come out.
Oh—sorry to bring it up, then!
Oh, no, no, no! No, I loved that movie! I was just going to say that everybody’s been comparing it to Death Race. There’s always going to be comparisons about every movie you do. And it is… you know, I guess it is pretty similar to Death Race. But it’s different. When you see it, the art of how they made it is completely different, and at the end of the line it’s different; I don’t know why all these comparisons are coming up. But it is… it’s an awesome movie. Like, if you want to see Gerard Butler go on and kill a whole bunch of people— [laughter] —this is the movie to go see! This is that badass action film where it’s all explosions and amazing action. So that’s that movie, which is really cool.
What’s your part?
Oh, me? Yeah, I’m just the cheerleader, almost. And the controller. It’s really just Gerard Butler just kicking some ass. It’s awesome.
What roles do you want to do next?
I want to do anything that’s good, you know? There’s no preference as to anything I want to do, just the best that’s around. If there’s a good script that’s different, then I want to do it. Like this movie is different. When I read it, it was like… [makes a show of inhaling deeply] There are so many different scripts out there that are so similar. They’re all carbon copy replicas of the same exact structure and storyline; it’s just that high school kid who gets the girl in the end or some stupid thing like that, which can be done well, but it’s pretty generic. Everybody does that. So it was really refreshing to read a movie that had a complex character that was different rather than doing Dragon Ball Z or something like that.
[laughter] So you’re directing next?
[laughs] Me? Yeah, I will be. That’s what I want to do eventually.
My One And Only is in theatres in NYC and L.A. and opens wide on August 28.