The first two episodes of Disney Branded Television’s live-action adventure Percy Jackson and the Olympians are now streaming on Disney+, bringing the first novel in Disney Hyperion‘s best-selling book series by Rick Riordan to life. The Original series follows 12-year-old demigod Percy Jackson (Walker Scobell) and his friends, Annabeth Chase (Leah Sava Jeffries) and Grover Underwood (Aryan Simhadri), as they embark upon an epic quest to find and return Zeus’ master lightning bolt and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus.
Even before Scobell was cast in 2022, he found himself poring over Riordan’s novels. “I read the first five books seven times, but I read The Lightning Thief a couple more times while we were filming,” he recalls. “I know the most about the first five books, but Aryan knows the most about [the spinoffs], The Heroes of Olympus. That’s what we’ve gathered.”
Given that they were already fans of Riordan’s work, the actors were able to better shape their characters’ arcs. “It’s nice adapting a series that has a definitive start and a definitive end,” says Simhadri, who plays a satyr. “You know your character’s journey, and you know how he reacts to things that might not have happened yet. You have such a treasure trove of information that you can use to explore those little moments involving your character.”
Whereas Jeffries was less familiar than her co-stars were with the novels (she eventually read them all), she identified with her character almost immediately. “Annabeth is very strong. She’s independent. She also has a certain sensitivity and a warmth to her—a vulnerability,” she says. “I connect with her on that because at certain points, I can have a kind of soft love, but at the same time, I can have an independence and a focused strength.”
Scobell adds that his experiences filming Percy Jackson and The Olympians often mirrored those of his character, whose journey of self-discovery is as impressive as the monsters and gods he encounters. “I think I connect to him in that he’s never really fit in anywhere before—until he finds Camp Half-Blood, that is,” he says, referencing the Greek demigod training grounds. “I’ve played a bunch of sports, but none I stuck with. Then I found acting.”
As fate would have it, each of the series’ illustrious guest stars—from Lin-Manuel Miranda and Megan Mullally to Lance Reddick and Toby Stephens—gave the young leads an informal acting masterclass, reminding them to find the fun amid the more dramatic scene work. “Megan was very playful,” Scobell says. “It was funny to see her in full makeup, sticking her tongue out and taking selfies, because she really looks terrifying on camera.”
As a new episode debuts each week on Disney+, the cast can’t wait to see how fans react to each epic adventure. Percy Jackson and the Olympians “holds a lot of universal truths,” Simhardri promises. Plus, Scobell says, “You don’t have to be a fan of the books to like this!”