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Jay Duplass talks Hades’ big introduction to ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’

Jay Duplass talks Hades’ big introduction to ‘Percy Jackson and the Olympians’

For Jay Duplass and his family, Tuesday nights are reserved for Percy Jackson and the Olympians.

Right when new episodes drop, you can find Duplass — who plays Hades in the show — sitting on the couch with his wife, their 15-year-old daughter and 11-year-old son, and their two dogs, dinner at the ready, eager to dive into the next installment of Percy’s (Walker Scobell) mythic adventures. For Duplass, a filmmaker and actor known for his work on movies and TV shows like Transparent and Togetherness, Percy Jackson and the Olympians marked the first project of his that his children could watch him in.


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“Not only is it the first thing that they can watch me in, but it’s without a doubt their favorite book series of all time,” Duplass told Mashable in a video interview. “They have read all of the books at least five times. They’re rabid, rabid fans.”

The idea of being part of an adaptation of this scale intrigued Duplass. “It’s always interesting walking into a piece of art that you already know about. Mostly, it was a curiosity of wondering how they were going to do things,” he said. “It was just cool to enter the universe. I honestly didn’t go in with super strong ideas about what I wanted to do with Hades until I really got there and started working more and more with [the showrunners] to try and figure out exactly how it should be.”

Now, with the release of Percy Jackson and the Olympians’ seventh episode, “We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of,” Duplass’ children — and the rest of the world — finally get their first glimpse of his take on Hades. That’s because after a series of deadly encounters with Greek gods and monsters, this episode sees Percy, Annabeth (Leah Sava Jeffries), and Grover (Aryan Simhadri) reach the Underworld at last, where they hope to confront Hades, the would-be lightning thief.


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“I’ve been watching every episode as they release and coming to terms with the fact that Hades is the goal of the journey. Like, ‘Boy, I hope I did a good job!'” Duplass said. “I’m mostly just nervous as to whether my kids are going to like my portrayal of this person. They have very, very strong ideas.”

By the time our main trio confronts Hades, Percy Jackson and the Olympians has already built up its own set of ideas as to what to expect from the God of Death. An exiled Olympian with a grudge against his brothers Zeus (Lance Reddick) and Poseidon (Toby Stephens), Hades has all the makings of a super powerful boss battle for Percy. Yet when Percy reaches Hades’ palace, he finds a very different kind of god: One who is sassy, exasperated by his brothers’ drama, and just really wants his helm of darkness back.

Playing up the comedy of Hades’ true nature starts right from his entrance, when he leisurely strolls across his massive entry hall to greet Percy and Grover. “I remember the director Anders Engström telling me, ‘Don’t even feel like you need to rush. This is the big moment, we’ve been waiting the entire show to get here, so let it unfold as it will unfold,'” Duplass said. “We wanted him to feel lived-in and like he had been around a goddamn long time.”

A man in a green and black robe in a dark palace.

Jay Duplass as Hades in “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.”
Credit: Disney / David Bukach

Between sassing Percy and Grover and asking for his helm back, Hades delivers one of the most dramatic turns of the show. As soon as Percy brings up the potential for Kronos’ return, he jolts into serious mode, angling to gain control of the Master Bolt in order to defend the Underworld. “There’s all these hints that there’s a lot more going on here, and obviously the end of this journey sets the stage for future books and a much bigger stage for war and battle and drama and conflict,” Duplass said of playing this dramatic shift. “That was a pretty cool moment to be a part of.”

Duplass was on set for one week filming his one scene this season. “That’s wild for me because I originally come from the independent film world, where normally I’d shoot a six- or seven-page scene in half a day,” Duplass said. “Obviously this is a very curated world, and there’s lots of shots involved.”

In another jump from independent film, the scene in Hades’ palace was shot on a massive 360-degree stage surrounded by LED screens known as a “volume.” The idea is to display environments on the screens in order to create a greater sense of immersion.

“It was truly a 360-degree view of the Underworld, so you really got to feel it,” Duplass said. “It was just amazing to get that feeling of the loneliness where Hades is and the expanse of it.”

Despite the grand scale of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Duplass described the shooting environment as fairly tight-knit. “As big as the show is and as big as the world is, it also felt like a family making a show at the same time,” he said. “Rick [Riordan] being there all the time, he and I had lots of conversations both creatively but also just about life, and it felt like a very personally made piece of art. It’s probably one of the larger things that I’ve ever been involved in, but it still felt like a homemade thing.”

As for Duplass’s Percy Jackson–loving children, did they ever ask him for spoilers and hints about the shooting process?

“They haven’t asked me anything specific about it, but they’ve definitely been calling me Hades for like the last three months,” Duplass said. “Literally dinner will be ready, and my daughter will be like, ‘Hades!’ Just holler it at me. It’s so fun.”

The finale of Percy Jackson and the Olympians premieres Jan. 30 at 9 p.m. ET on Disney+.

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