One of the producers of Percy Jackson and the Olympians commented on why they made “a million changes” from the original books.
So far, fans seem to like the latest adaptation of the fan-favorite books. The Disney+ series has gone to great lengths to remain accurate to its source material—something the original movies failed to do.
It’s not perfectly one-to-one, however. For example, an entire scene from Episode 2 featuring Grover and the Council of Cloven Elders is present that never happens in the books.
A "Million Changes" to Percy Jackson Disney+ Series
In an exclusive interview with The Direct’s Russ Milheim, some of the creative team of Disney+’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians talked about the changes from the books, working with Disney, and bringing the Gods to life.
When asked what differences they made from the books, executive producer Jon Steinberg teased there were “a million changes:”
“A million changes and you hope that almost all of them are invisible. These are very different mediums, and I think they tell stories differently. And so I think you have to embrace the idea that everything in the book is going to have to find a different form to inhabit in order to be something I'd want to watch on screen.”
As for what those exact changes were, “sometimes it’s sequencing” and “the way set pieces play out,” noted the producer, while adding that author “Rick [Riordan] was excited about getting a second go at it:”
“So sometimes it's sequencing, it's causation, it's the way set pieces play out is a little different, but it made it work better. Some of it is bigger, some of them, frankly, are things that I think Rick [Riordan] was excited about getting a second go at it. He wrote that book 20 some odd years ago, and you don't get a second draft... And I think it was exciting and fun for him to sit in conversation about, 'Alright, let's rip the lid off this thing again.'”
Steinberg posed the question: “Would you do everything the same?:”
“Would you do everything the same? Who would do everything the same 20 years later? No one. Neither would Rick. I think some changes in the way some of these relationships work and was something that we were all really excited about.”
The whole show is made possible thanks to Disney, which executive producer Dan Shotz “is really grateful for:”
“And Disney was just from day one, just like as each step happened, [they were] always having a conversation. So as we were building this, from how we were shooting it, where we were shooting it, who we were casting, where we were going, what it needed. It was always a really good conversation to make sure that the show needed what it needed. I'm really grateful to them for that because that doesn't happen very often. And everybody knew that this was such a special property that we needed to do it right.”
Part of the fun of Percy Jackson and the Olympians is how it introduces the Greek gods to a modern audience.
Director James Bobin praised the performers behind the powerful entities, teasing “they are all powerful” yet “incredibly flawed:”
“Because you believe they have power, they all have this great weight to them. Which is effortless [for] the actors, [but] it's really hard to [do]... You have that sense of they are immortal power beings. They are all-powerful, and yet they're also supremely human in this form and incredibly flawed... So, it's a really difficult call for the actors but they all have this presence, which is a brilliant thing because obviously you want the facade just be that-- a facade. The real power is there behind the eyes, and that is a really great thing... “
Steinberg added that the Gods are most interesting to him as Percy Jackson’s “extended family:”
“The Gods are always most interesting to me as Percy's aunts and uncles and cousins and extended family. I think the more he sees them that way, the more I see them that way, the more I understand that what this really is a story about a kid meeting his estranged father [and family]...”
How Disney+'s Percy Jackson Is Still Super Accurate
For the most part, fans have taken all the changes in the show well. This adaptation cherishes the original books more than the previous movies did.
The reasoning for many of these more minor changes makes perfect sense.
Not only does it need to be adapted into a different medium, but it is nearly two decades after the original material was written. Rick Riordan saw many instances where he wanted to try things differently.
The important thing is that all the broad strokes remain—unlike the films. For Logan Lerman’s iteration, the second movie confusingly merged the stories of books two and five, resulting in a horrific mess that cut out many key story details.
Hopefully, Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ love for its source material remains evident throughout the rest of Season 1.