After, what was for many, the disappointment of the previous film adaptations (Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief and Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters), there is a lot of pressure on Disney + to make sure their series doesn’t face the same fate. With the 2010 and 2013 Fox adaptations being referred to by Rick Riordan, the author of the book series, himself as the ‘Movies That Shall Not Be Watched’, it would be fair to predict that the Disney show will be taking a different approach to portray the much-beloved children’s book series.
So, who will we see depict the heroic trio?
The first cast-member to be announced was, of course, the title character Percy Jackson himself. On his website, Rick Riordan revealed Walker Scobell, recent breakout on the Netflix film The Adam Project and, most importantly, Percy Jackson super-fan, as the 12-year-old demigod.
Completing the line-up of the main cast, Disney has confirmed the actors whp will bring Annabeth and Grover to our screens. Aryan Simhadri, star of Cheaper by the Dozen and Disney Channel’s series Spin, has been cast as Grover Underwood, the pipe-playing, tin-can-loving satyr. Meanwhile, Rel and Empire’s Leah Jeffries has been cast as ‘Wise Girl’ Annabeth Chase.
Much of the reaction to the casting announcement reflected the fans’ excitement at the developments being made in the creation of the series. But, disappointingly, the news was also met by racist backlash specifically at the appointing of Leah Jeffries as Annabeth. The author of the series, Rick Riordan was quick to condemn the horrific abuse directed at Jeffries, stating: “we should be able to agree that bullying and harassing a child online is inexcusably wrong. As strong as Leah is, as much as we have discussed the potential for this kind of reaction and the intense pressure this role will bring, the negative comments she has received online are out of line. They need to stop. Now”. Riordan continued to denounce the bullying as explicitly racist and prejudiced, and evoked the core message of the original books, that “difference is strength. There is power in plurality. The things that distinguish us from one another are often our marks of individual greatness”.
As Riordan states, anyone abiding by the lessons of the Percy Jackson books will view this cast announcement with excitement and anticipation. Filming for the show is expected to begin this summer, with its release expected sometime in 2023. It’s safe to say that the hopes of millions of young people around the world are high as they anticipate the Disney series which will bring their beloved childhood stories to life.