Welcome to New York! (The Gods Have Been Waiting for You)

Hello, all! One week to go until the Percy Jackson TV show premieres on Disney+, Dec. 20, and Becky and I are in New York for the red carpet premiere with the cast and crew! The excitement is real.

We loved hanging out with our cast at the Empire State Building yesterday and taking a trip up to the secret 600th floor. Yes, I know the secret of getting up there. Nope, I’m not telling! Here I am behind the security desk, entering my personal access code:

The cast had a couple of busy days doing press interviews and photo ops.

Tonight, I can’t wait to see the cast and crew at the red carpet premiere and celebrate this series. It has been an incredible experience! Tomorrow, we all jet off to London for a premiere there this weekend.

Before all that, however, I wanted to thank all of you who submitted questions for the Instagram Live session yesterday. Since we only got to answer five of them on line, I thought I would pick a few more and answer them here!

I heard that the character Argus was being removed from the show. Was there any particular reasoning as to why?

Well, partly it’s because it would have been super expensive to create Argus’ eyes all over his body and we had to be mindful of our budget (even though we had a great budget), but the bigger issue was that the episode at camp was already so crowded with so many characters and scenes that we decided having Argus there also would be too much. The scene where he would have appeared is a really serious emotional moment, and his presence would have sort of stepped on the dynamics. Hopefully we’ll get to see him in a later season if we get more seasons!

Were there any changes that you all made to the plot/details from the source material while adapting the book to show format that you were excited (or not excited) to make?

When you adapt a book for screen there have to be some changes because it’s a different medium. For instance, in the book you are in Percy’s POV the entire time and his voice is constantly in your head. You can’t really do that the same way in a TV show. Even with eight episodes, you can’t show every single description of action or line of dialogue from the book, because it wouldn’t translate and feel the same. It’s weird, but you sort of have to change things to make the story feel the same. I think, though, that when you watch the show, it will feel like the book, and you will say, “Yes, that is the story of The Lightning Thief.” That’s the most important thing for me.

How did you balance managing comedy and still making the show scary for younger audiences?

We had a lot of conversations about this. We want it to be a show everyone will enjoy. I think the humor helps with that, because it does balance out the scary stuff. It’s a tough thing to do, but I think we got it right. Tell me what you think when you watch the show!

Are you working on A heroes of olympus TV series or movie?

Way too early for that. I want to get Percy Jackson adapted first, because that story comes first, right? Whether or not we get to Heroes . . . if it happens, that would be many years in the future.

Are you nervous about the reviews that are coming soon?

The only thing that is certain whenever a book or a show comes out is that everyone will have an opinion! That’s fine. Some people will love it. Some people won’t. The thing I care about most is that Percy Jackson book fans are happy with it, and early indications have been extremely positive. I think, though, that it’s a show anyone can love even if you don’t know the books. Sure, I get nervous waiting for reviews to come in, but after writing books for twenty years, I’m also kind of used to it.

Which was the scene you were most excited to see adapted and your mind finally blow up when you saw the kids/actors playing it finally?

My mind blew up a lot during this process! I love the St. Louis Arch scene. You’ll see what I mean in episode four. The three main actors did an amazing job. Walker is a lot braver than I am. He had to deal with a fire-breathing Chimera!

From my 11 year old son who is so excited for the TV series: will we see the zoo truck scene?

Let me put it this way: the title for episode six is “We Take a Zebra to Vegas.”

What was the biggest challenge you encountered? (LOVE the casting, btw)

The whole process was a challenge! Making a TV show is hard! I guess the biggest challenge was the sheer amount of time it took to get the scripts written. It’s a very long and detailed process, but hopefully the time and effort paid off.

Give us some blue food recommendations to make on the premiere day!!

Don’t look at me; I can’t cook! Whenever I try to make blue food, it turns out either purple or green. I don’t know . . . Skittles?

Can Riptide run out of ink?

HAHA. I haven’t checked. Percy doesn’t like to write, so I doubt he would ever test that theory. But no, I think it has infinite ink because it is magical.

Do you think post production has gone well? The effects and the music, are they to your taste or was there higher authority over their choice? Like, I love Riptide as a song, but might we be getting some 2010s music, just for nostalgia?

Post-production is at least as hard as actual production, and so many people spent so much time on this show. I think the final product looks and sounds fantastic. I can’t take credit for the music. I didn’t even know Riptide was going to be in the trailer until I saw it! But I agree, it’s a perfect choice. The series isn’t meant to be set in the 2010s. It’s meant to be a sort of timeless ‘modern day’ vibe, so we aren’t trying to capture a certain decade. Bear McCreary did the music for us, so most of what you hear will be new music from him!

Tell us more about on-set shenanigans by leah, walker and aryan pls.

My favorite memory from the first day of production: Aryan and Walker had just wrapped filming and they were in such a good mood and so full of energy that they started, like, ballroom dancing in the parking lot. They were just goofing around, but it made me so happy to see them so happy. I also remember when we were prepping to film, the stunt team asked the kids what they wanted to do to get started and they said they wanted to do an “Avengers”-style combat scene. So the team gave Aryan, Leah and Walker swords and hooked them into harnesses so they could do these flying leaps. They launched themselves into the air and came down into battle against the stunt trainers. It was amazing. I still have the footage on my phone. Maybe someday if I get approval, I will share it. Finally, I found out that Leah loves dogs, so we bonded talking about our own pets and we spent a lot of time taking care of the dogs that hung out at the offices: Zoe, Dexter and Chili, who were there almost every day. It made the production office a great place to be!

Rick Riordan