What’s the first film that springs to mind when you say the name Logan Lerman? Percy Jackson? Maybe even The Perks of Being a Wallflower? But for some, this name wouldn’t strike any recognition at all. Although you may not recognise the name Logan Lerman, he’s one of those actors where you’ll (almost) definitely recognise the face. While he has remained under the radar for the most part, it appears that Lerman has spent the last decade slowly building up his résumé with widely acclaimed films, while not really getting noticed by wider commercial audiences. But this is all part of his charm, and most likely the thing that will set Lerman aside when he does break the more commercial market.
Logan Lerman has a surprisingly structured and varied showreel to date. As previously mentioned, the name might not ring any bells, but as soon as we mention that he played the young Ashton Kutcher in The Butterfly Effect (2004), you’ll most certainly have that “of COURSE” moment. Needless to say, he started out small, gaining small-time recognition in films such as The Patriot and What Women Want in the early noughties. But it wasn’t until we saw Lerman in the title role in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010) that we really started to appreciate him in all his awkward, stuttering, dorky beauty.
Lerman was an interesting choice for the lead role of Percy Jackson – every actor needs a Young Adult actioner on their filmography, and this happens to be his. And luckily this isn’t the worst franchise he could have chosen. By any stretch. While the two films released in the series so far take themselves ever so slightly too seriously for a film about Greek demigods (surprisingly, not as ridiculous as it sounds), if you do have an interest in Greek mythology, there’s a lot here for you – apart from a sense of humour. Unfortunately, the funny bone is something that must have been cut in post-production. While Percy Jackson lacks any coherent climax, it’s a lot of fun, and a great showcase for Lerman. Frankly, it could have been worse – he could have been a bit part in Twilight.
But although Percy Jackson was arguably the main breakout role, it’s not as if Lerman was shoved straight into the limelight. Even after the Logan-starring stormers being released between 2014 and 2016, Lerman was still obviously not on the top of every Hollywood list when it comes to leading roles. Could it be his age? Could it be his demeanour?
“I didn’t think anyone noticed me,” Lerman states as Charlie in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012). Honestly, he has a point. Ever since the excitable mythology of Percy Jackson, Lerman has always opted for more introverted roles ever since, the most memorable of these being Perks. And his performance here shouldn’t be understated – Lerman’s Charlie is possibly one of the most well-developed and sympathetic characters on film, yet with so few words spoken throughout. Charlie is a complicated character – his depression is only hinted at for the majority of the film, for the most part coming across as shy, empathetic, and inherently lonely. And with just a slight clench of his jaw, or a flicker of his eyes, Lerman manages to turn a character that says so little into one that (silently) says so much.
After such a strong performance, it was no surprise when Lerman turned his mind to even heavier subject matter. While Perks beautifully portrayed the highs and lows of growing up, it was still very much aimed at the Young Adult. This isn’t something you could say for what we should call Lerman’s “epic era”. Forget about the rom-coms, zom-coms, and the family dramas that we usually see dotted on a young actor’s reel. Instead Lerman has opted for the likes of Fury (2014) and Noah (2014). Coming from a Jewish background, it’s unsurprising that Lerman has a preoccupation with roles that explore the persecutions and the institutions of his faith, which could be said of both Fury and Noah, the former faring much better than the latter. And this study continues in his upcoming film, the Philip Roth adaptation Indignation, in which he plays Marcus, a Jewish student attending a small college in New Jersey where he struggles with disillusionment with his faith. As our Eddie pointed out, this was – by some stretch – the best performance Lerman had ever delivered. His promise looks to have been converted into a tangible product.
But of course, every actor has that one film that they someday hope to gather up all copies of, take to a secluded corner of the Earth and feed them through a wood chipper. For Lerman, that should be 2011’s remake of The Three Musketeers. Where to begin on such a shambles of a project? It’s hard to decide which is worse – the ’70s rocker hairstyle, or the poor attempt at building a believable love story at its core. It was never going to amount to the original, and arguably this is Lerman’s weakest performance – purely on the basis that even he seems uncomfortable in the role of D’Artagnon. And thank god, as we much prefer him in his more solitary, understated roles.
Whilst we’ve seen moments of greatness from Logan Lerman, it still feels like he hasn’t fully hit his stride. Though there’s been a smattering of beautiful performance (Perks and Fury, to say the least) the main issue is that these performances are very similar – quiet, sensitive, compassionate, a sole empathiser having to work his way through an unethical, immoral world. But luckily, the limited amount we’ve seen of Lerman’s repertoire so far means that there’s (hopefully) a lot more to see. With some big roles approaching (keep an eye out for Sidney Hall and Rothchild, which will both be hitting cinemas in 2017), it’s hard to imagine that he’s now going to fall by the wayside.