Actor Logan Lerman, who plays D’Artagnan in The Three Musketeers, 3D, which opens on Wednesday October 12, speaks about his experience preparing for the role, cast pranks on set and what's in store for him next.
Have you seen any of the other The Three Musketeers films?
LL: I have seen all the movies and I was a big fan – I loved them growing up. When I was offered the part, my grandfather was so excited, because it was his favourite novel as a kid. He left his home at a young age, as a six-year-old, he travelled from Germany to China, he grew up in China, and he took one book with him and it was The Three Musketeers. So it meant a lot to him for me to do the film and it meant a lot to me to do it for him.
How was it playing D’Artagnan? He’s a bit of a cheeky rebel.
LL: Yeah. I think he’s the most different character to me that I’ve ever played. I relate more to the other characters I’ve played. I’m not very much like him, I’m not that athletic, and I hope I’m not too arrogant. I just thought, “Okay, it will just be a character. I can just live in that world for five months and it will be good fun.” So I started getting my ideas for the character and I would test them out in certain situations or I’d try them out, but I couldn’t do it here in L.A. It was too distracting, in my bedroom at my parents’ house, trying to figure out how to play this guy. Nothing seemed right until I got to Germany and tried on the clothes, and had the hair put in, and once they put the extensions in it all fell into place.
How did you prepare for the sword fighting? Did you have to do some training?
LL: I did do a lot of training. I started training three months before training with everybody else. I did sword training and positions, plus all these fights we had to learn, and our stunt coordinator, Nick [Powell], and all of the stunt guys, who trained us were great. Then there was weight training and exercise. It was a lot of fun but very different from what I do normally, because I am not that athletic, I’m more of a homebody.
With all the sword fighting and the dueling on top of buildings, were you ever really high up or was that fake?
LL: Well, I mean, I’m not that high up but there’s that fight with Mads Mikkelsen when we’re up on top of the building and I remember they had one rig that was about 40 feet in the air and usually when we’re walking, we’re wired in. But you couldn’t really do the fight like that because with the wires, the swords are constantly hitting them, so we did that fight on a 10-foot platform, but it was still very difficult because we’re doing it on something that’s only about a foot wide, the whole way, back and forth. It was crazy. It was nuts. If you fall, you fall for real. They have mats down there, so it wasn’t too bad. But we were constantly cutting each other with our swords because it was one-on-one. The other times you are fighting several people, it is a little bit easier to swing and make open movements but the movements for these are very precise and the timing is so quick that if I go up here and he hits me here, you are going to get tagged. But it didn’t happen too often!
What about the 3D aspect of the movie? Was that challenging?
LL: It wasn’t that complicated, surprisingly. I understood it immediately and I was like, “Oh, that’s pretty easy then.” And it was actually a more precise way to film. You want some 3D gags to work correctly, so everything that we did, every shot is so precisely planned and you can really get it to a point where you are making the tip of your sword hit a certain part of the audience. It’s a lot of fun. It’s very effective for this film and for what they are trying to make and for what the movie is. And it makes it very entertaining. It’s just a fun movie. It’s a lot of really entertaining action sequences and romance and flying ships and things that make it fun and everything you want in a movie-going experience. With the technology and this classic story, we’re able to transport you into Dumas’ world that he created years ago in a way that you’ve never seen before, and it’s a lot of fun.
Do you feel like you had great camaraderie on set? Because obviously the Three Musketeers and D’Artagnan are supposed to have this relationship – they tease him a lot but they are all good buddies, really. Did you have that on set as well?
LL: Yeah we did. We definitely had that. Actors tend to mimic the relationships that they are supposed to have because it’s good for the job, so most actors – I don’t know if it’s most actors – but that’s what I do, I try to mimic the relationships as best as I can. We definitely had that.
You had some fun?
I would have thought that it would be difficult to get through some scenes without laughing sometimes.
LL: Yeah, sometimes it was pretty ridiculous, we would just crack up and it would be difficult but then you take a look around and you see a lot of money at stake and you go, “Maybe I will stop laughing and get into the work.” I just try to get in my zone for working.
Did any of the cast play pranks on each other?
LL: Yeah. My stunt double is a good friend of mine, and him and my assistant buddy – we all hang out and have fun, and they pranked me a few times. One time, I had a night shoot from 7pm to six in the morning and that day they had needed to get something from my room, so I gave them my key. I had completely forgotten about it, and I walk in my door, and they had put clear Saran Wrap [Cellophane] over my toilet seat that I could not see. I just had no idea. And it got me. It was everywhere, and as it was happening I was screaming, “Noooo!” It was very funny. It was a great prank.
Did you get revenge?
LL: I was never able to get revenge. I tried, I was setting a trap one time but they walked in on me. They were too good!
What was a scene that you really enjoyed shooting?
LL: The whole movie was just a really great time because I’m just this young American kid from Los Angeles who hasn’t seen the world really, but fortunately for my work – I started really young and was able to travel a lot but mostly in the States and I hadn’t really been out of the States, I haven’t explored the world yet – but it was quite the adventure to shoot in Germany and live there. The whole experience itself, just being able live in Germany for five months and see this beautiful country and understand the perspective of the people living there, was an experience in itself. The highlight was just the whole thing. It was a great chapter.
You wanted to be an actor from such a young age, from the age of five, is that right?
LL: Well that story has kind of been fabricated and twisted around. I started when I was really young, like five, six or seven, but that was just to do something to get out of school. And I liked the movie, but I didn’t have any conscious awareness of what I was doing or what was going on. I was just a kid who manipulated his way into allowing his parents to let him work, to try it out. Being in this city made it accessible; so it was right place, right time. Yeah, it just happened. But I didn’t really start until I was 12 or so, about seven years ago – that was when I made the conscious decision. I quit for a while before that, for a year or so: I didn’t work, didn’t want to. Then I got back into it again, to understand production, to be on set and understand filmmaking. It was just a hobby then it turned into a profession because I became more passionate about it and fell in love with each medium of filmmaking – acting being one of them – I just really like it.
Because you were working so much, did you go to high school?
LL: Yeah, I went to high school right around the corner from here.
Are any of your family in the movie business?
LL: No. My family are all in orthotics and prosthetics – my father and my grandfather and my aunt and my grandmother – they are all in that business, but my dad and my grandfather are orthotists.
Did they have any worries when they saw you going into this world?
LL: Yeah. They weren’t that scared because they had no idea what it was like and they assumed that filmmaking was easy – you have a stunt double and you only do certain stuff. I’m telling them that and I’m actually doing it all and it is pretty dangerous! No-one has an idea. Then my dad came out and visited me in Germany, in Berlin, right before we were about to do one of our big fights, so I said, “Do you want to see what I have to do every day? Do you want to see what I have been training for for six months?” You’ve seen me leave the house but you’ve never seen me do anything.” I showed him and he was in awe of what we have to do, or of what we are doing and how physically insane it is, and how much preparation we put into it. He was pretty impressed – that was the first time I impressed my dad in that way, in a physical way like that. I think he was very proud. It was a really interesting experience.
How do you feel knowing that after this film you will be called a heartthrob? Because the character is so confident and dashing around women.
LL: I don’t know. It’s hard to think about it in that way. That’s the title you get in a poll or in a magazine, but I don’t know. In my own life, I’m living at home still; I’m still at my parents’ house. I’m 19 so I can’t really relate to that situation or that title. I am just kind of reserved and quiet!
Have you met anybody who was a hero or a screen idol to you when you were younger, that you have now had the chance to work with? And does that make you nervous?
LL: No, no, I just completely get excited. I just want to pick their brains about how they work. There are so many people that I idolized that I have been fortunate to work with, but there are so many more that I am just dying to work with as well. My favourites are out there – they are the people that got me interested in film.
LL: There are so many. I love the Coen brothers, and David Fincher – the guys everybody loves – Paul Thomas Anderson, Spike Jonze, Scorsese, Spielberg – I’m just a huge fan. Or to meet the next guys who are going to influence a generation. That’s the goal. That’s what I want to do.
Have you ever met anybody that you’ve been tongue-tied in front of, or embarrassed yourself in front of?
LL: I’m trying to think. I have been in that situation where I have seen people, like Christopher Nolan, where I was just like, “I don’t know what to do!” But if I’m working with them, that’s different: I’ll pick their brains. I will be their assistant, basically, because I am usually there peering over their shoulder wanting to know what their process is like and how they orchestrate this whole thing.
Who do you think is a great actress?
LL: Meryl Streep is one of the best actors ever. She is just incredible. I’m a huge fan – one of the best actors ever. There are so many: Tilda Swinton, Kate Winslet. But it’s a lot about filmmakers for me.
What was working with Orlando Bloom like?
LL: It was a lot of fun. He’s a cool guy, a really cool guy. We had a good time working together.
How do you deal with fame and all the attention from your fans?
LL: I don’t really have to. Occasionally you will feel someone looking at you, maybe someone will come up to you, but it’s not that crazy. I go out all the time and nobody really does that, which is great, or maybe I just don’t really notice it. I have anonymity, which is pretty cool.
What do you do in your spare time?
LL: I love to play music, write music. I look to brainstorm ideas. I am constantly thinking in film terms and situations and scenes and plots and all that. My friends and I are constantly coming up with situations and plots. We’re just gathering ideas constantly, even for fun – they are our conversations, talking about upcoming projects or even just the news, that’s what I do with my free time.
You play guitar, is that right?
LL: Yeah, yeah. I play a few instruments. I’m not really in a band, I just play music. I play with my friends but it’s nothing I would pursue professionally. It’s fun though, I love live music and I just love music. It’s a major passion for me and it goes hand-in-hand with my acting. I love it. Maybe I will pursue it!
Who do you like listening to?
LL: I love Arcade Fire and The Strokes and the Stones and Neil Young, old Elton John – like Tumbleweed Connection – I listen to a lot of different music. I love movie compositions, so I love movie composers like Michael Giacchino, Jon Brion and Carter Burwell. John Williams. I love him. I think I may be seeing him next week. He’s performing out here with the L.A. Phil.
What new projects do you have coming up: and can you tell us about the sequel to Percy Jackson?
LL: I don’t really know much about it. Hopefully I can continue doing work that I am proud of. I just finished a movie a week ago called The Perks Of Being A Wallflower, and I just got back. It was a great experience, and I am really proud of it.
That’s with Emma Watson, right? How was it working with her?
LL: It was great. She’s a brilliant young actress and a great person. We had a great time working together, with everyone on the cast. It was a very special experience.
Was that a different kind of role?
LL: Very different. Polar opposites to this movie. It was all about coming-of-age for a naïve, awkward young man entering high school and being introduced to this new world after joining this new group of friends, and it’s about this kid just trying to make friends, basically, growing up in suburbia, in Pittsburgh in the early 90s, and trying to deal with his personal issues at the same time, and it’s a great coming-of-age story. It’s really good. It’s an epic, a life epic.
Did you talk to Emma about being a young famous actor and how she deals with it?
LL: Yeah. And she is an incredibly bright and talented person and handles it very well. I remember walking into a bookstore with her and that was interesting! It was the most intense place to go for somebody who portrayed one of the most iconic characters in literature. I have never experienced anything on that level. So I have seen it for another person, but I have never had anything like that. I was fascinated by it.
Any other roles coming up?
LL: Yeah, I’m also doing this other movie called The Only Living Boy In New York. I don’t know when it’s starting yet, but it should be filming sometime soon. I turned off my phone and didn’t talk to anybody while I was working on purpose, and still haven’t really spoken to anybody so I need to figure out what’s going on, but it’s a really great story and I’m really looking forward to that one as well.
The Three Musketeers, in 3D, opens in cinemas on Wednesday October 12.