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Logan Lerman on Sundance Drama ‘Sidney Hall,’ Aspirations to Direct, Perks and Drawbacks of Fame

Logan Lerman knows a thing or two about being famous at a young age. He’s been acting since he was a preteen and at the age of 25, he’s already notched impressive performances in the likes of “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Noah,” and the Percy Jackson franchise.

That early brush with notoriety may have served him well for “Sidney Hall,” his new drama that premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. In it, Lerman portrays a white hot literary talent, who achieves fame in his 20s, only to turn his back on the public.

Lerman spoke with Variety about the perks and drawbacks of fame, his ambitions to direct, and how he landed the “Sidney Hall” role.

I’ve read that every 20-something actor in Hollywood went after this role. Was it a cattle call? 

Whenever there’s a good script around, it’s usually a cattle call. Everybody wants it.

There was an audition process. I appreciate that. It gets you on the same page before you start a film together. [Director Shawn Christensen] was really particular about auditioning everybody and making sure that the actors he was casting were right for the roles. That their takes were in line with his vision. I had a take, an idea of how I wanted to execute some of the scenes that I was required to go in and read.

You play Sidney at three different ages — at 18, 24, and 30. How did you depict those changes in age?

We had all these ambitious ideas where I would gain weight, lose weight, all those things. Of course with an independent film budget and the amount of days we had that ambitious idea quickly got thrown away. There’s a lot of little things and tricks and details that we used instead to establish the ages.

Sidney achieves popular success in his 20s. Did you draw on your experience breaking into show business at such a young age?

I guess so, but I feel like there are different brands of success or fame. I serve other people’s visions. He’s a writer. It’s his words and he’s influencing people. It’s from him. I can’t relate to that, but I can understand the position of being recognizable. It is overwhelming.

He’s grown up in this small town and he happens to have an incredible talent. He’s thrust into a position where he becomes very successful at a young age and he’s struggling to deal with this newfound fame. The responsibility of being an influential person is very heavy for him.

Have you had trouble accepting fame?

It comes with the territory. It comes with the job. I personally am creatively satisfied with the projects I chose to invest my time in. If I wasn’t, I don’t think that I’d be as comfortable with being recognizable, for lack of a better word.

I’m not a creator yet. Therefore I don’t have the same influence on people. It’s really the writers and creators that I work with. I’m just saying their words. I try to remain relatively quiet. I live my life very privately in between films. I don’t want to distract from the moviegoing experience. It’s very distracting when you know too much about an actor. It takes you out of a film.

You did a number of big studio films like “Noah” and “Fury,” but lately you’ve been doing smaller films like “Indignation” and this picture. Have you moved in the independent film direction?

It’s not a conscious decision. It just happens to be where good material is being produced. A lot of what I read in the studio system recently hasn’t attracted my interest or attention. I do love movies and I do love movie theaters. I have a romantic connection to the experience of visiting the cinema. I want to contribute to the medium.

Are there directors you want to work with?

I could name all the ones that I’ve grown up loving,that are obvious talents, like the Scorseses of the world, but I’m excited to find young talent and fresh voices and aid their visions and go on journeys with them.

Do you want direct or write a film?

It does interest me. I would love to at the right time be in that position, but it’s nothing I’m aggressively pursuing. I’m constantly reading and find talented voices. The minute that I can find a script that I want to invest my heart and soul into as a filmmaker, I’ll do it. The material needs to speak to me or I’ll just write it myself if the idea comes to me. I think I need to live life a little bit more before I have something to say.

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