Authors: Kenedi, Brianna, Jules
It’s no secret we’re excited for the live-action adaptation of Percy Jackson & the Olympians, beginning with The Lightning Thief, here at Nerds & Beyond. With the series officially greenlit by Disney+ (where the show is slated to stream) and casting calls slowly progressing, buzz continues to heighten concerning just who we’ll be seeing on our screens in a show that is expected to attain iconic status. Currently, the search is on for the main three characters, as casting calls have opened for Percy, Annabeth, and Grover. However, as far as we know, all the other roles are still up in the air (for now). While we’re firm believers that the roles of our three favorite campers should be new, young, promising child actors, we have some ideas of who it’d be cool to see on our screens in other supporting roles. Check out our Percy Jackson fan casting below!
There was much debate on who could take on the intimidating, powerful role of Zeus, and we returned time and again to Henry Cavill. Zeus’ actual appearance is minimal in the first book, so the role calls for an actor capable of making a lasting and mildly terrifying impression on our main trio (and on the audience) in that limited time. Starring in various otherworldly roles like Superman, Theseus, and Geralt of Rivia, we’re certain Cavill has not only the physique of the Big 3 god, but the acting chops to fully realize the commanding presence Zeus brings in the Percy Jackson series. His role in The Witcher alone demonstrates his range to play an intimidating, morally gray character with little dialogue (plus we know he can go blonde if need be!).
The god with the most important role in relation to Percy is, of course, his father Poseidon, who we’ll meet multiple times. Again, this character needs to be both effortlessly surfer dude, yet maintain the menacing look necessary for a god. We debated the longest (and loudest) on this one and landed with the talented Karl Urban. Even in a casual Hawaiian shirt, Urban has the potential aura of a vengeful sea god. Will he curse you? Will he ruffle your hair and give fatherly advice? We aren’t quite sure at any given moment, which is the exact energy needed for Poseidon, whose mood changes like the tides.
While the 2010 film adaptation presented Hades as a fairly straightforward, moustache-twirling antagonist, the Hades of the book series is a much more complex villain. Which actor is excellent at adding shades of gray to evil characters? Bill Skarsgård. While he is best known for playing literal demon Pennywise in the It franchise, Skarsgård has built his career on using his unconventional looks and quiet malevolence to both charm and terrify audiences. His role as The Kid/The Angel in Hulu’s Castle Rock proves his ability to be an ancient soul in a young body who is tormented by the past. And while “funny” may not be the first word that comes to mind when you think of Skarsgård’s work, his role as half-vampire playboy Roman Godfrey in the little-seen Netflix series Hemlock Grove proves that he can be as sarcastic as he is scary. Skarsgård would be perfect as a haunted and angry Hades.
While all of the Olympian gods and goddesses are fearsome with their abilities, Ares calls for someone who is imposing and feels very much like they might actually murder you just for fun. A terrifying presence who has Percy quaking (metaphorically) from their first encounter, we can’t help but picture Idris Elba in this role, leather-clad and riding a motorcycle of death with flames visible in his eyes as he stares down the 12-year-old Percy. We know Elba’s acting chops run the gamut of good and bad guys, so it’s not a stretch to see him as the hot-tempered, antagonistic Ares who will have us equally thinking “oh no” and “not this guy again” every time he appears on our screens!
It’s no secret that we’re big fans of Supernatural here at Nerds & Beyond, and as such, it’s not a surprise we’re pulling from the cast. Dionysus has more to him than originally meets the eye. While he’s often sardonic and (seemingly) uncaring, there are plenty of moments within the series that showcase a myriad of different sides of him — even though on paper, he originally seems pretty flat. Misha Collins has played a slew of different characters while on Supernatural (some of which got pretty meta — Collins playing himself as the actor who plays his character on the show he actually acts on in an alternate universe … you get the picture). From his normal sarcastic, no-nonsense version of Castiel to his iteration of his character in the episode “The End” seen above — who’s been forcibly banished from his home and reluctantly helps run an end-times refugee camp (sounds pretty similar to Mr. D’s predicament, honestly) — Collins would bring the perfect amount of nuance to this character that has much more to him than meets the eye. Plus, come on. You can’t tell me this picture doesn’t scream grumpy camp counselor. The woodsy setting is very Camp Half-Blood chic.
Athena is not a goddess to trifle with, and any actor playing her needs to be fierce. Enter Florence Pugh, whose intensity is perfectly calibrated to play the cunning strategist. Pugh is best at playing characters whose intentions are murky, as are Athena’s. She is believable as an ancient warrior; much like Bill Skarsgård, her eyes make her look like an old soul. Anyone who has seen her in action in Black Widow or Hawkeye knows she can pull off the fighting aspect of Athena with ease. But Athena isn’t all shrewd calculation. Her emotional side comes out when it comes to her daughter Annabeth, and Pugh is capable of pulling this off as well.
Cailey Fleming has some excellent experience under her belt for such a young actress. From her portrayal of the fierce Judith Grimes on AMC’s The Walking Dead to her stint as young Sylvie on Marvel Studios’ Loki, we’re more than confident this young lady could bring the perfect balance of intensity and calm to the role of Artemis. Seeing how Artemis takes on a bigger role in the third book (and therefore third season), The Titan’s Curse, age could become a potential problem in the future as the actress grows, but seeing as she’s been playing Judith as a younger character, we’re positive she’s up to the task.
With his charming ways and effervescent attitude, the golden boy of the Greek gods needs to be portrayed by an actor who can bring a spark to the role. We think Sam Claflin, well-known as Finnick Odair — the golden boy of The Capitol in The Hunger Games films — among other roles in pieces like Me Before You, Enola Holmes, and more, has the chops (and the look) to do just that. In the books, Apollo is an energetic ball of muted chaos, and some of that can easily be seen through Claflin’s work as Odair, especially in Catching Fire. However, Claflin also is able to add enough depth to his performance to set up Apollo’s future if the series so progresses far enough to get into his future narrative.
The difficulty in casting someone to play the Goddess of Love is that love is so specific to each person. You could certainly pick someone who is “beautiful” by American standards of beauty, but that idea has been shown on-screen many times before. One fan idea that has gained traction is the idea of casting multiple actors who shift from scene to scene, depending on how the goddess wants to be perceived. We love this idea, and humbly submit our picks for actors who could alternate the role: Gemma Chan, Lizzo, Stephanie Beatriz, Jamie Clayton, Hunter Schafer, and Lachlan Watson. Tell us your picks in the comments!
I’ve always personally imagined Chiron with this air of regal wisdom, and who better than to play into that than Khary Payton? Known for his role as King Ezekiel on AMC’s The Walking Dead, Payton would bring just the right amount of calm confidence to the beloved director of Camp Half-Blood. Chiron is a character that needs to be able to project many different aspects: a mentor, a protector, a counselor, and most importantly, a leader. But even more than that, the audience needs to be able to feel the camaraderie between him and the campers. Not only does Payton have the range to pull all of this off, but his previous performances have played into many of these aspects, making him the perfect candidate.
Luke is a tough character to cast. He needs to seem like a protective older brother type at first, gaining both the audience and Percy’s trust before betraying him and Annabeth. But Luke needs to be more than a one-dimensional villain. He’s sympathetic, and his ultimate fate is tragic, but he also needs to be full of rage and jealousy. Alex Lange is best known for playing a cancer patient on season 3 of medical drama Code Black, as well as Light as a Feather and The Unsettling. He has the easygoing, protective energy that Luke exudes at first, but he can play a darker side as well. He’s also just old enough to convincingly play a few years older than our main trio, who will likely be between 11 and 14 years old based on the open casting call parameters.
Melissa Ponzio is easily known as one of teen television’s best moms from her role as Melissa McCall on Teen Wolf. So who better than to play the iconic role of Sally Jackson? With credits under her belt from shows like the aforementioned Teen Wolf, The Walking Dead, and Chicago Fire, we’re confident that Ponzio can shine as the badass yet endlessly loving mother that fearlessly accepted the supernatural and made so many sacrifices to protect her son.
BONUS – Original Film Cast
We’ve said time and time again that it would be loads of fun for some of the film series’ OG cast members to make cameos in the new show. (It is not their fault the movies were bad, okay?) But instead of the most common argument here, which is to have them play some of the gods (though we do love that idea), we thought it’d be fun to mix it up a little for the readers. As such, below we have a few other fun ways the cast could cameo in the first season, effectively passing the torch to the new generation.
Logan Lerman as Percy Jackson was the very definition of right place, wrong time. And speaking of time, there’s one zany idea that stands out to us concerning how the former film franchise lead could make a cameo. Everyone knows about the infamous Lotus Hotel scenes, from both the book and the movie. (Can’t you just hear “Poker Face” playing in the background?) We think that a neat way to pay homage to Lerman’s iteration of Jackson could be for him to appear in the Lotus Hotel, specifically as the person who tips Percy and co. off that time is … weird there (it was in fact not the year 1977).
While fans had a hard time with Daddario’s casting back in the day (the great blonde debate of 2010, anyone?), there’s no question Daddario is a great actor, just not the right Annabeth. But as Medusa, she could flex her muscles in a great character role that fits her talents better. She’s played evil before in films like We Summon The Darkness, and her look is well suited to Medusa. It’s also the perfect amount of screen time for a meaty cameo.
Brandon T. Jackson
Fans would be forgiven for forgetting about the character of Procrustes. He plays a role in the first book, with the main trio forced to escape from his water bed store, but his part was deleted from the film entirely. But the series will have more time than the film, meaning that this encounter will likely be a part of the final edit. If so, Brandon T. Jackson would be the ideal candidate given his status as an OG cast member. It’s a solid length for a cameo, like Medusa, and since the character doesn’t make it out of his fight with the trio, Jackson wouldn’t have to commit to the series long term.
While Hermes doesn’t appear in person until Sea of Monsters, we couldn’t miss the chance to make sure Jake Abel is acknowledged in this fan casting. Having played a son of Hermes himself, it would be a fun bit of fan service to see him in the part. Additionally, as the series progresses, Hermes plays a larger role. Abel is more than capable of playing a guilty father trying to save his son from a horrible fate.
There are countless actors and actresses that could bring their talents to this project, but we’ll have to wait and see who ends up making the cut. Until then, there’s no harm in dreaming up endless combinations of who we can imagine on the big screen (and there are simply no budgets in our minds, unlike in television). Got any favorite actors/actresses that you think would be a good fit for one of the roles above? Let us know your own Percy Jackson fan casting in the comments!
Make sure to check out all of our other Percy Jackson and Rick Riordan-related content at their respective links, including a few things we’d like to see in the upcoming series. As always, stay tuned for more updates as they become available.