Idol Chatter

Percy Jackson and the OlympiansPlaying the best friend of a teen demigod in the blockbuster “Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief,” Brandon T. Jackson, at 25, is an veteran among a cast of new faces, with more than a dozen movies under his belt. Jackson (on left in photo) started performing as a teenager in his father’s church in Detroit, eventually debuting on film in a movie made by a member of his congregation when Jackson was still in ninth grade.
I talked him after the movie’s premiere about making the transition to Hollywood, going back home, and how faith played a role in his success.
You took a big leap from being a preacher’s kid in Detroit to making movies in Hollywood. But your first step was doing a comedy routine at your church. How did that come about?
I started doing stand up and acting at the same time. I would do a lot of the church plays, which my mom put on. I played Jesus. I played Paul. I was a lamb. I played everything.
And were you a funny Jesus or as Paul?
No, no. I was serious. My best thing was Peter, the best friend of Jesus. I’m always the best friend-even in Bible plays. I was the protector of Jesus, just like I am with Percy Jackson. That’s crazy!

Knowing your background, it was hard to avoid thinking of your role in “Percy Jackson” in Christian terms. I won’t spoil it for anyone, but basically your character sacrifices himself for his friend.
There is no greater love than to give your life for a friend.
What was the break that got you out of the church sphere?
I did stand up at The Laugh Factory in Detroit and got discovered. Everything that happened in my life was always kind of supernatural. I did three minutes of stand-up and got an agent. I auditioned 13 times for my role in the movie “Tropic Thunder,” was told I didn’t get the part and then they called me back and gave me the part, out of nowhere. Something happened to the other actor.
And you attribute that to the Almighty?
Of course. I mean, everything has a plan. Everything is divine.
In show business, you’re like an old timer.You’ve been working for 10 years. How was it working on “Percy Jackson,” with relative newcomers?
It was great. It’s good to work with people in my age group. And it made me see how much I’ve grown. So that was a great experience.
Does anything you do in movies ever concern your parents? In “Percy Jackson” you play a satyr and you have a very definite eye for the ladies.
That’s Greek mythology. I didn’t write it. It’s what satyrs represented back then. They were hormonal creatures who were protectors of the earth. I just played it. So, no, they understand the difference between reality and film. They are very supportive parents. My dad concentrated more on his relationship with God than on religion.
When you go back to Detroit, do you go back and perform at the church?
I don’t. Certain types of Christians can be very judgmental sometimes. They think you’ve changed, that you’re bigger than them. They don’t understand how to take it. When you come from a small town, a small church–or a big church in a small towns they think they don’t understand your knowledge. It’s given by God, but sometimes they feel like it’s given by another power, so it kind of intimidates them.
How about when you go home? Are you still just one of the seven kids?
Yep. Just one of the family.

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