Percy Jackson and the Olympians, written by Rick Riordan is a bestselling mythology book series for young adults. It follows the adventures of the protagonist Percy after discovering that he is the demigod son of Poseidon, Greek god of the sea. The series had previously been adapted for the screen with movies for the first 2 books being released. However production stopped after their lukewarm reception and low box office sales. Fans were outraged by the butchering of their beloved series, and were dismayed by the awful plot changes and character redesigns. Even Riordan, the author himself, had spoken out about his dislike for how his “life’s work” was put “through a meat grinder”. Therefore, when a new adaptation of the books was announced, this time with Riordan’s enthusiastic support, fans were thrilled.
The castings were recently announced, with 13-year-old Walker Scobell as Percy, 12-year-old Leah Sava Jeffries as his close friend and future girlfriend Annabeth Chase, and 16 year old Aryan Simhadri as Percy’s best friend Grover Underwood. Though the members of the cast are young, they have some pretty hefty experience under their belts. Scobell recently rose to fame in his role of young Adam in this year’s The Adam Project and Jeffries has been acting since 2015, playing roles such as Lola in the series Empire, and the film PawParazzi in 2019. Her most recent appearance is the film, Beast, starring Idris Elba and Sharlto Copley, which is set to release on August 19 2022. And last but not least, Simhadri is known for his roles in multiple TV series, such as SEAL Team and Adventures in Wonder Park and even Spin, a story about an Indian American girl pursuing her passion for DJ-ing.
Many people were thrilled at the diversity of the casting, with Jeffries being a Black actress and Simhadri coming from Indian-American descent. However, there was also the inevitable backlash towards Jeffries taking the role of a character who is white in the books. This led to her TikTok account being banned due to the amount of people expressing their dislike of her casting. In response, Riordan passionately defended the young woman, calling out his so-called “fans” and condemning their words and actions. “I have been clear, as the author, that I was looking for the best actors to inhabit and bring to life the personalities of these characters, and that physical appearance was secondary for me,” he said in the blog post. “We did that. We took a year to do this process thoroughly and find the best of the best. This trio is the best. Leah Jeffries is Annabeth Chase.”
The production of the show is scheduled to start in Vancouver this June. A release date is yet to be determined, however it is anticipated to premiere some time next year. In the meantime I, along with many other fans, will be excitedly awaiting to see one of the world’s most popular books portrayed authentically on screen.