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Meet the God of Underworld in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

There’s more to gods and goddesses in the biggest family-adventure movie “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” as newbie Logan Lerman plays demigod (half-human) Percy who is fathered by Poseidon, god of the sea, is brought upon on a perilous quest to find the one wreaking havoc among the gods in Olympus.

Based on the book by Rick Riordan whose main inspiration is to write stories for his son, “Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief” stumbles upon a brewing war between god brothers Poseidon, Zeus and Hades where a demigod (half-mortal), Percy is sought by his father Poseidon to find a most precious bolt to clear his name against the suspicions of Zeus which others believe to have been stolen by Hades, god of the underworld.

Playing Hades as the world had never seen before is Steve Coogan – in his thoroughly original interpretation of the god of the underworld living in a decadent mansion located right below the Hollywood sign. Steve Coogan’s interpretation of Hades is hilarious and quite unique. We see him looking like a faded rock star, in a loveless marriage with his wife Persephone played by Rosario Dawson.

Exuding brawn and wit, Coogan further pulls us down in the underworld in the following q&a:

Q: How do you approach an iconic character like this?

A: “When I come to a part like this I think ‘ What have I seen before? What can I do that’s different with the role?’ With Hades, I feel like I’ve seen one dimensional, evil people. There’s no explanation for why they’re bad and you don’t see any depth in their evilness. The role of being god of the underworld has been forced upon him. So therefore, you can use that as a cue for giving him some sort of conflict.”

Q: Can you explain a little more about that conflict?

A: “The conflict allows you to show his insecurity and discontent with the role he’s playing. It is almost like Hades is pretending to be god of the underworld, and so he’s not entirely comfortable with this role that’s been bestowed upon him. That’s what helps me play him. He is being evil but he’s not entirely convinced by his own performance and that allows you the opportunity for comedy.”

Q: And that creates the comedy?

A: “Yes, those moments for some reason are extremely funny. When you see someone try to create an effect and then they trip up, it makes people laugh and it’s consistent with the character. So really for me the important thing was to have the comedy occur naturally. Then in trying to think about that, I find the key to the character, ‘I understand now why he lacks conviction.’ He is impotent which helps with the humor. That’s always a great motivator. He is trying to conceal that; he’s taking it out on the rest of the world because you know - he’s got problems in the bedroom (laughs).”

Q: Your look is interesting, isn’t it?

A: “The way they’ve dressed me, the way they want the character to look is like a rock god and so I have snakeskin pants, snakeskin boots and a torn t-shirt, with the long hair, makeup and the beard. It’s a very affected, stylized kind of look and that, to me, is part of the key to the character. There’s a vanity about him. Rock stars often have a certain way of holding themselves and a certain gait to their walk. All that physical stuff helps me to find the character. It also feeds into the comedy in that he has a specific way that he presents himself to the world.”

Q: In terms of films, what inspired you? Did you go to the movies?

A: “I did an awful lot. I loved a lot of American movies, Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder films. Personally the kind of movies I liked were those sort of dark twisted comedies, like SHAMPOO and BEING THERE, HAROLD AND MAUDE, those slightly dark, dysfunctional and funny movies.”

Q: What was your childhood like? You come from a big family, did that shape you as a comedian?

A: “My parents fostered children. I’m actually one of eight but there were always a couple of extra kids in the house, so sometimes it was ten. There was always a lot of activity in the house with so many kids around. It was quite a noisy household and so if you wanted attention you had to make a lot of noise, you had to demand attention. So I would invent my own little world and disappear into it. I played characters and I’d do voices and disappear into television and I would listen to narrative comedy on vinyl, before the days of VHS. I would just create these distractions for myself and I was fascinated by acting… the idea of make-believe and the idea of transforming yourself and becoming someone else.”

Q: Finally, what distinguishes this film do you think?

A: “It is unlike other genres and other movies that are broadly described as fantasy and based on books and novels. This is based on a book that is in turn rooted in Greek mythology. Of course there is artistic license setting it in the modern day, but the actual classical basis for the stories is pretty consistent with Greek mythology. So there’s an educational element to it.”

At 44, Steve Coogan is one of the most sought comedian, actor, accomplishes writer, producer and director. He was born and raised in the Northwest of England and began his career as a comic. He become widely known in the UK for his character as Alan Partridge in the British comedy series “On the Hour.” His films include “The Indian in the Cupboard,” “Ella Enchanted” and “Around the World in 80 Days.” He also starred in the 2006 box office smash hit “Night at the Museum” and 2009’s sequel “Night at the Museum 2.” He appeared in “Tropic Thunder” and “Hamlet.” His next films are the animated “Marmaduke” and “The Other Guys.”

Get ready for mythology’s most powerful when “Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief” opens February 12 nationwide from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

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