Image Credit: Disney
When you’re on an epic quest, you always need a Grover Underwood by your side. Breakout star Aryan Simhadri plays the beloved character in Disney+’s Percy Jackson & The Olympians. For Aryan, playing Percy’s best friend and protector is one that he’s relishing. Hollywood Life spoke exclusively with the 17-year-old actor about getting the chance to dig deep into these youngsters and the pressure on their shoulders.
“I think one of the biggest things about being a show is that we get time to get to a lot of the passed-over aspects of all these characters,” Aryan said. “One of the biggest things is that there are still kids. They’re going through all of this insane stuff. They blow up a national monument on accident, and they’re running from the police and they’re fighting Gods and monsters but they’re still like 12-year-olds. Grover’s 24 but it’s insane and that’s something that we worked with our acting coach a lot to kind of bring out.”
Almost from the jump, Percy finds out that his mother is alive and currently in the Underworld. Percy is determined to save his mother from Hades and wants to dive headfirst into the Underworld. For Grover, all he sees is danger.
Aryan Simhadri at the ‘Percy Jackson’ premiere. (Andrew H. Walker/Shutterstock)
“For a satyr that’s been on one quest, it’s pretty next-level,” the actor said. “In the book series originally, he’s actually deathly terrified of the Underworld. It’s the same in this show, and you get to see that in later episodes. We read the books a lot when we were preparing for the show, so getting to see how scared he was of the Underworld in the books compared to how even more scared of the Underworld he was in the show was hilarious. I mean, the Underworld kind of goes against everything he stands for. It’s the opposite of nature, of life. But again, he’s willing to kind of put his fears aside to protect Percy.”
Percy and Grover’s friendship is one of the most important aspects of Percy Jackson & The Olympians. Aryan admitted that Grover has to deal with the “bickering” between Percy and Annabeth in the first half of the season. “He has to kind of ground the quest and try and keep those two together,” Aryan noted. “But now that Percy is a part of this world doing that becomes so much easier. One of my favorite additions to the show is that he’s what gets Percy kicked out of Yancy. Having that tension between them and Percy not wanting to see Grover when he comes back to the Montauk cabin makes their relationship so much stronger after they get past that. That’s why Grover is able to keep the quest on track and kind of balance Percy and Annabeth that much better.”
Before the first season’s premiere, legendary actor Lance Reddick passed away. He was cast as Zeus in the Disney+ series and filmed his scenes prior to his death. Aryan opened up about the moment he met Lance on set.
Aryan Simhadri with co-stars Walker Scobell and Leah Jeffries. (Disney)
“I had never interacted with him before that time, but he treated me like I had known him for years before that point,” Aryan recalled. “He did that with everyone he met. It’s incredible. It’s something that just after meeting him, I was like, ‘I want to be like that.’ I got to see his performance. I think one of the best things about the casting in this show is that every character couldn’t have been cast better, and I think that goes doubly for Zeus. It’s a very rare feeling when you watch someone act on screen and think, ‘This is it. No one could have done it better.’”
Rick Riordan’s bestselling book series consists of 6 books, so there’s plenty of story to cover in future seasons. Being a longtime fan of the Percy Jackson books, Aryan knows exactly what he wants the show to cover. “Book 4, in my opinion, is one of the most well-constructed books in the series, Aryan said. “Grover and Tyson have this bonding that they went through during the Labyrinth. That’s something I would love to explore. Hopefully, Tyson is going to be cast soon. He [Grover] gets to see Pan. I mean, Book 4 is kind of the culmination of his efforts. It’s like he proves himself finally and gets to reach the conclusion of his original hero’s quest to find Pan and receive his message.”