We already knew that Chris Columbus wasn't afraid to take creative license for the book-to-screen adaptation of Percy Jackson — the screenwriter explained in an interview that in aging the characters for the movie, he started with this premise: "What if we took Holden Caulfield from Catcher in the Rye and threw him into a Ray Harryhausen Greek monster movie?"
In casting what he clearly hopes will be a Harry Potter– like movie series, Chris Columbus sought out relative unknowns for the students and big-name stars for the adult roles. Here they populate the Greek Pantheon, rather than the faculty of a school of wizards. What's especially interesting, though, is that most of these gods and goddesses don't appear until much later in the book series. Does this spell major plot changes to The Lightening Thief? Or is Columbus just setting up the sequels with cameos now?
Serinda Swan as Aphrodite, the Goddess of Love and Beauty
Where you've seen her: At three, she appeared in Cousins with Ted Danson and Isabella Rossellini. However, you're probably much more familiar with her modeling work for Milky Way or her appearance as Zatanna in Smallville.
In Percy Jackson: Born of sea foam, this goddess of love is described by Percy as "looking like every girl he had ever liked." A classic statue of her Aphrodite of Soli appears in the trailer.
Verdict: She doesn't appear in the series until the third book, but given the audience of teenage boys, it's no surprise they cast her in the first movie.
Where you've seen him: This model from Greece has appeared as Chef Marcello in the 2009 pilot of the rebooted Melrose Place or as "Guy #1" in an episode of Samantha Who?" (Then again, maybe you haven't seen him.)
In Percy Jackson: The son of Zeus and Titaness Leto first arrives on scene in book two to drive Percy and a group of hunters back to Camp Half-Blood in his sports car (sun chariot) at the request of his twin sister, Artemis — but since she's not listed in the credits, we're not really sure what his role will be in The Lightning Thief.
Verdict: While he can appear in a variety of forms, the first time Percy meets him he's described as handsome with sandy hair and outdoorsy good looks. Check. Plus bonus points for Greek heritage.
Where you've seen him: This amateur boxer from London began his acting career as the boxer "Kenny Fox" in the 1980's Fox TV series. Recent roles include Jedburgh in Edge of Darkness, the wronged husband in The 44-Inch Chest, and Mr. French in The Departed — aka the "enforcer" who breaks open Leonardo DiCaprio's cast.
In Percy Jackson: He dresses in a leather jacket, wears sunglasses to hide the fireballs in his eye sockets, and has updated his War Chariot with a Harley Davidson motorcycle. This guy's no tough-guy poser, though — time and again, we see he's more than willing to start a world war just for his own amusement. Oh yeah, he's been Aphrodite's boyfriend for millenia.
Verdict: With his gritty voice and history of playing tough guys, Winstone is more than capable of the part. Let's just hope he dials it back a few notches. This is a PG movie, after all.
Melina Kanakaredes as Athena, Goddess of Wisdom and Battle
Where you've seen her: As Detective Stella Bonasera on CSI: NY for ever it seems, and before that as Dr. Sydney Hansen in Providence. Her movie roles have been few and small.
In Percy Jackson: She's the daughter of Zeus and mother to the half-blood Annabeth Chase. Her rivalry with Poseidon means she's not exactly thrilled that Annabeth is Percy's friend/love interest. And count her as another god that doesn't appear until later in the book series, so your guess about why she's in the first movie is as good as ours.
Verdict: We guess she brings the wisdom from her doctor role and the battle-ready skills from playing a cop. She, too, has that bonus Greek heritage.
Stefanie von Pfetten as Demeter, Goddess of Earth and the Harvest
Where you've seen her: While she has more than 50 TV and movie roles listed in IMDb, probably none of them are prominent enough for you to remember — for example, "Girl in Chinatown" in 40 Days and 40 Nights.
In Percy Jackson: Daughter of Kronos and sister to Zeus, with whom she had a child, the goddess Demeter. She has one half-blood daughter as well, Katie Gardner, a Camp Half-Blood counselor, who doesn't seem to be in the first movie.
Verdict: Demeter is not seen until the third book in the series, and not heard from until the final book, during which her main role seems to be nagging her daughter about marrying Hades. Not exactly a demanding role.
Luke Camilleri as Dionysus, the God of Wine
Where you've seen him: The young actor has only a handful of credits to his name so far, but they do include “Greek God” in the 2008 made-for-TV movie Paparazzi Princess: The Paris Hilton Story.
In Percy Jackson: Nicknamed "Mr. D.," he's the activities director at Camp Half-Blood — a job he was given as a punishment, along with a 100-year drying out period. He's as grumpy and unhelpful as you'd imagine.
Verdict: We were expecting someone older, to be honest, and not so fit, given that Dionysys is described as “chubby” in the books. We’re hoping his personality hasn’t changed along with his appearance — we like that he brings the sarcastic.
Steve Coogan as Hades, God of the Underworld
Where you've seen him: Well-known for his comedy in Britain, stateside he’s best recognized as the playwright–drama teacher in Hamlet 2, Octavius is both Night at the Museums, and the rookie director in Tropic Thunder.
In Percy Jackson: This son of Kronos and husband to Persephone has two half-blood children, Bianca and Nico di Angelo. While his children don’t show up until the second book, Hades is there from the beginning, as Percy’s mother is sent to the underworld.
Verdict: We don’t doubt that Coogan has the acting chops to pull off the role. It’s just that we’re … well, puzzled. Hades isn’t exactly known for his humor.
Erica Cerra as Hera, the Goddess of Women and Marriage
Where you've seen her: Not surprisingly, her list of early roles include “Pretty Girl,” “Beautiful Waitress,” and “Attractive Woman #1.” More significantly, she was “Maya” in four episodes of Battlestar Galatica and had a much longer run as Deputy Jo Lupo in Eureka.
In Percy Jackson: This “Queen of the Gods” is wife to Zeus and a daughter of Kronos. She doesn’t show up until book four in the series, when Percy meets her in the labyrinth. Where he’ll meet her in the movie is unclear.
Verdict: According to Percy, Hera “is very beautiful.” Check. And she “looks like a mother.” Huh? Perhaps she was given the role because she adopted Hera, a Cylon-Human hybrid child, on Battlestar Galatica?
Dylan Neal as Hermes, God of Messengers, Travelers, and Thieves
Where you've seen him: His first recurring role was as Dylan Shaw in The Bold and the Beautiful. He’s had several more since then, including roles on Dawson's Creek, Blood Ties, and Wild Roses.
In Percy Jackson: Another son of Zeus, Hermes helps convince Percy to go on a quest even though Tantalus had denied his request … in The Sea of Monsters. What message he’s set to deliver in the first movie is anyone’s guess.
Verdict: When it comes to matching the author’s description, Neal may be one of the best castings yet: “a middle-aged man with an athletic figure … elfish features, and a sly grin.”
Where you've seen her: After her breakout role in Dangerous Liaisons, Thurman has most notably appeared in the Quentin Tarantino movies Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill: Vol. 1, and Kill Bill: Vol. 2.
In Percy Jackson: Yeah, we know, Medusa is not a Greek goddess. But given Thurman’s roles of late, we felt compelled to include her in this list — especially since she’s cast as a snake-headed monster here.
Verdict: When it comes to luring humans, Thurman definitely has what it takes — with or without the snakes.
Rosario Dawson as Persephone, Goddess of Springtime and the Underworld
Where you've seen her: She’s had parts in a number of big movies, including Seven Pounds, Clerks II, and Eagle Eye. She also had the lead role in the online series Gemini Division.
In Percy Jackson: While this daughter of Demeter and Zeus, and wife of Hades, is mentioned in the first book, Persephone doesn’t appear until the final installment of the series.
Verdict: Given the early stills and trailer shots we’ve seen of Dawson from the movie, it’s a safe bet that when she does appear on screen, she isn’t “sapped of her powers or beauty” from being in the Underwold.
Kevin McKidd as Poseidon, God of the Sea and Earthquakes
Where you've seen him: This Scottish actor is probably best known to American audiences for his roles as the footballer Tommy in Trainspotting, soldier Lucius Vorenus in Rome, and the PTSD-ridden Owen Hunt in Grey’s Anatomy.
In Percy Jackson: The immortal part of Percy’s parentage, Poseidon is one of The Big Three (with Zeus and Hades), who took an oath never to have half-blood children again given the prophecy that one of these offspring would decide the fate of Olympus.
Verdict: While McKidd doesn’t have the black hair and sea-green eyes described in the books, he does look perfectly capable of summoning and controlling fierce sea storms.
Sean Bean as Zeus, God of the Sky and Lightening
Where you've seen him: His breakout role was as Richard Sharpe in the British TV series Sharpe, but most American audiences will know him as Boromir in The Lord of the Rings trilogy or Nicholas Cage’s nemesis in National Treasure.
In Percy Jackson: Unlike many of the other gods and goddesses, Zeus plays a prominent role in the first novel — it’s his stolen lightning bolt that referenced in the title. He’s the last son of Kronos and the ruler of Olympus.
Verdict: Bean’s villain roles should add the right amount of complexity to this commanding ruler of the pantheon.