What a Week!

Thanks to everyone who welcomed our first cast member, Walker Scobell, into the PJO family this past week! The response was incredible, positive and supportive, which says a lot about this fandom.

Just a gentle reminder: I am no longer on social media. Ashlee does a great job posting and retweeting fun content. Becky keeps me up to date about how things are going in general. But it would be inaccurate to say, “Rick posted this” or “Rick said that” or “Rick saw me” on whatever platform, because I’m not there. Especially with the intense interest in this TV show, it’s just been better for my focus and mental well-being to stay away from the apps for the past year and a half.

Having said that, I have heard about your enthusiasm and I share it! I also don’t have to be on Twitter to anticipate what questions you are probably asking.

Like for instance: When are we announcing Annabeth and Grover, and can it be right now? Answer: Soon. And no, it cannot be right now. As I said before, I think we’re very close to having everything wrapped up for our main trio, but there are numerous levels of approvals to get and deals to close before we can announce anything. Things are starting to move into high gear, though, since we begin filming in June, so we are probably talking weeks, not months, before we can share more news. As always, I need to warn you that this is ONLY my personal guess. What I can say is that the production team is united and excited about where the casting decisions are heading, and we are receiving excellent support from our studio and network partners.

Other questions I bet you are asking: Are we going to make Walker dye his hair black? Answer: We have had zero conversations about this. Personally, I think this is a non-issue. For me, finding the right actors  has never been about hair color, eye color, skin color, or any other single physical trait, even if they were described a certain way in the books. As many of you know, I flubbed such details myself several times in the series. Thalia’s eyes changed from green to blue. Oops! Annabeth’s hair was curly and then it was straight. Nico was described as olive-skinned, then later as pale. Blackjack even changed from a mare to a stallion over the course of two books. Whelp, not sure what happened there, but too late now! If I may invoke the Movies That Shall Not Be Watched, I know a lot of you cared deeply and were unhappy when Annabeth turned out to be a brunette rather than blonde, but for me, that was never the main issue. What mattered were that those actors, as talented and wonderful as they are, were WAY too old for the parts as I wrote them, and their age was central to the plot. What I want to see are age-appropriate actors who can embody the personalities of the characters, nail their voices and their sense of humor, and make you believe: “Yes, that is Percy. That is Grover. That is Annabeth,” even if they’re not exactly how the characters were described physically in the books. Again, that’s just my personal opinion and my approach. So blond Percy? Hey, why not? IMO Walker is awesome just as he is. He is perfect for the role. The same will be true for our other characters when I can announce them.

You are asking: What about the other casting choices? Those are well underway. We are reviewing a flood of audition tapes as we speak for all parts. And yes, I am involved in every decision. I have seen dozens of Sally Jacksons at this point, and even more Mrs. Dodds . . . all wonderfully sinister. In fact, I may or may not have had nightmares about math teacher Furies last night….

Will there be open casting calls for (fill in the character you wish you could be)? As I’ve said before, I very much doubt it. There are so many great actors out there who are looking for work and who have already made the commitment to devote their lives to acting, have put in years of training, have struggled to get agents and get parts — we have no shortage of great, diverse options. Acting is hard. Getting good at it takes time, patience and tons of unglamorous difficult work. Also, it’s simply not practical or economically feasible to do open calls for every character, especially extras. There are also many laws in place  . . . for instance, to work as an extra in Vancouver, where we are filming, it’s my understanding that you have to be a Canadian citizen or permanent resident, in order to support the local economy. So can we fly you halfway across the world so you can appear on set as “Tree #3” for a day? Alas, no, although I agree it sounds like fun!

In addition to all the excitement about Walker last week, we were working hard in the writers room to outline the remainder of the first season scripts. I’m very pleased with how that’s going. This will be The Lightning Thief — the story you know and love, but with added depth and layers of nuance that many of you have been yearning to know about, judging from the fan letters I have received over the past fifteen years.

Have a great weekend, and Happy Easter to those celebrating. I will get back to you with more news as soon as I can!



Rick Riordan