I had the pleasure to get to interview Maria Olsen who plays Mrs.Dodds/Fury in Percy Jackson. You sent in your questions and we tried to get them all in (sorry if your question was not picked). Enjoy the interview!
Did you read the Percy Jackson books prior to getting the role or once you were cast?
I hadn’t heard of the PJ book series prior to landing the audition but, as soon as I did, I researched them and bought the first book. I actually read the first half of The Lightning Thief on the morning before my audition and the second half in the afternoon after my audition! I then bought books 2, 3 and 4 – book 5 wasn’t out at that time – and read, and enjoyed, them all. I haven’t bought book 5 yet as I’m waiting for the paperback copy to come out so that I can have a full collection of the first paperback editions of each book.
How did you like them?
I really enjoyed them as they are fun and lighthearted reads. The characters are really well drawn – especially Percy and Annabeth – and the stories are a wonderful way to introduce new readers to Greek mythology. My favorite characters include Nico di Angelo and Thalia Grace, but my all time favorites are Hermes’ talking snakes, George and Martha (I want a rat!!) =)
How did you get involved with Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief?
My agent submitted me on the role of The Fury to the casting directors who were casting the movie, and I was lucky enough to be called in for it. I auditioned against about 40 other actresses for the role and was one of 3 to get a callback. Two weeks or so after the callback, production told me that I had booked it. Great excitement ensued, obviously! It was an awesome role and things got a whole lot awesomer when, after he cast me, Chris Columbus, our amazing director, wrote the scene at Yancy Academy where I meet Percy for the first time. The Fury had become Mrs Dodds / The Fury.
What was it like to play a monster?
It was awesome playing a monster and I had great fun doing it. This wasn’t the first time that I played a character that was, let’s say, aligned to the dark side of the force, and I have done so numerous times on both stage and screen. I usually get chosen for these types of roles fairly regularly as I have an intense on-stage and on-screen presence. It was an unusual honor, however, to be picked as one of the few Percy Jackson monsters to appear in the first movie and I’m now part of a very elite group.
What did you have to do for the special effects for turning into a Fury?
As I did all my own stunts and had to be filmed while leaping off the scaffolding, I had to be trained in harness work. The Percy Jackson stunt team was absolutely wonderful and, because of their help, learning how to climb the scaffolding while wearing the harness and then to jump off it onto the safety pads below was a pleasure. The scaffolding that you see in the movie was, however, higher than the one I trained on, but, although I had two stunt doubles standing by, I did do all of the jumps myself. As the Fury is CGI generated, I also had to undergo a full-body CGI scan while in costume, and this basically involved standing perfectly still for about 30 seconds at a time while the computer scanned me in from different angles. I also voiced the Fury – I have a natural rattle in my voice that I use when I voice scary characters – and the Fury lines had to be recorded separately on a special sound stage in order to get them exactly right.
How did you first get started as an actress?
I start performing on stage in South Africa when I was 6 and have never looked back since. In 2005, I moved to Los Angeles and, in 2006, made the decision to move from stage to screen while still continuing to perform on stage in both Los Angeles and New York. I was lucky to accumulate a number of noteworthy on-screen roles in a very short amount of time which led directly to my signing with my agent in November 2008. In January 2009, my agent got me my audition for Percy Jackson, which I was lucky enough to book. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen next =)
When you’re not acting, are there things you like to do? Like a hobby?
When I’m not acting, I enjoy writing and knitting. I’m working on my Scary Scarves series at the moment – cool winter scarves with fun scary designs like Christmas spiders – and I actually hope to begin selling them soon.
What other projects are you working on?
At the moment I’m waiting for finalized scripts and shooting schedules for several independent features – drama and horror – and also several shorts. I’m also involved in promoting several features that are currently making the rounds on the festival circuit, including the incredibly intense horror “Shellter”, the zombie-comedy “Die-Ner (Get It?)” and the drama “Blue like the Morning”.
Do you have any funny or interesting stories about making Percy Jackson?
Brandon T Jackson was absolutely awesome on set and he kept us laughing all of the time with his antics. Pierce Brosnan’s wheelchair also had a mind of its own and would often do interesting things that he hadn’t programmed it to do. Logan was amazingly cool all of the time and things started to get interesting when his stunt doubles were also on set as it seemed that there were as many Percy’s as there were Hydra heads! I have actually never worked with a friendlier and more professional cast and crew and the movie was a joy to make.
Gallery of photos of Maria from the trailers