At the age of 28, Logan Lerman‘s career has already hit impressive heights. He’s worked alongside some of the most iconic actors in critically acclaimed hits like 3:10 to Yuma and crowd-pleasers like Fury and The Patriot. Further, his coming-of-age hits include Perks of a Wallflower and the Percy Jackson franchise, among other projects. Fast forward to 2020, and Logan’s enjoying second billing behind the legendary Al Pacino in Amazon’s Hunters series, which is executive produced by Jordan Peele. It’s not a bad place to be.
Logan stars in Hunters as Jonah Heidelbaum, a young man who experiences a great tragedy that’s not unlike the plight of Peter Parker. Soon enough, Jonah crosses paths with Al Pacino’s financier character, who recruits Jonah into his ragtag band of Nazi hunters. The show largely takes place in ’70s New York, and it’s heavy on the Quentin Tarantino vibes as well as the comic book references. Logan was gracious enough to discuss his role, which involved both a transformation as well as weapon-wielding skills and dancing (not at the same time). He described an intense production, but fortunately, Pacino made the experience more than worthwhile for his onscreen protégé.
The Hunters premise has made a lot of people think of Inglorious Basterds.
Of course, naturally, yeah.
For the curious, would you distinguish the two works?
Oh, they’re very different tones and subject matter. I haven’t thought about Inglourious Basterds enough to tell you what makes this different, but they take place in different time periods, and there’s more truth in what’s happening in Hunters. This is definitely a big, over-the-top show that’s not grounded in reality, but it is grounded in truth in the sense that Nazis were given immunity after World War II and some were living in the U.S. And it plays into that situation, but the center of the series really revolves around a question about morality, about evil and how to combat it. Like, do you have to be evil in order to fight evil. Do you need to become a bad guy in order to fight the bad guys? That’s what we’re really exploring at the center of the series. That’s not the question at the center of Inglourious Basterds, so that’s the biggest difference.
And that morality struggle comes up in conversation between Jonah and his friends about Batman and going to the dark side.
Yeah, it’s interesting because people are thinking about Inglourious Basterds, but this is much more like a comic book film. It’s very much more along the lines of Spider-Man.
We don’t want to spoil which side Jonah goes to, but if you personally could be a Batman or a Spider-Man type, who would you pick?
They’re both pretty cool characters. I really don’t know, to be honest. I haven’t read the comic books, but I enjoy the films. I guess not all of them because they’ve been rebooted so many times by filmmakers. I really have no preference, one or the other.
Back in your Fury days, you talked about a boot-camp process that the cast went through. Was there anything like that on Hunters, like with the weapons training?
Surprisingly not! [Laughs.] Nope, I expected there to be some sort of prep like that, but the truth is that we just didn’t have the time to do it. When you’re making a series like this, after the first episode, there’s just no real time for training and prep. It’s all pretty run-and-done.
Who was the most natural cast member when it came to wielding those weapons?
Oh probably Louie [Ozawa, who plays a Vietnam vet]. Louis for sure.
You’re one of the leads in this series, but you’re a newcomer to the Hunters group who has to prove himself. Was there any method-like hazing on the set?
Nooooo, no one did that. Everybody was lovely to work with and respectful like that.
Everyone is asking you what it’s like to work with Al Pacino, though, right?
You know it, definitely.
That’s a difficult problem to have, man.
[Laughs] I mean, it was so cool to work with him. Just to spend time with him… ahh, I just love the man very much. The truth is that, beyond work, beyond what we do for a living and artistically, he’s just a great person. A very lovely soul and humble and hardworking, and someone that I just deeply admire.
Did he or anyone else offer you any special advice on set?
Always! I would always try to pick up any wisdom from Al and the other actors. Carol [Kane] and Saul [Rubinek] and all these incredible performers that have been around for so long. I respect them so much.
Carol’s a riot and so great in everything she does.
She’s incredible. They all talked about their experiences and filmmakers. I’m always absorbing that stuff.
Did you find it harder to deal with the emotionally difficult or the graphically violent scenes?
It was more difficult for me to deal with the emotional scenes. The beginning of the series, and the foundation of the series, is based upon a tragedy that happens early on in the show, and those first couple of episodes were difficult to execute because the place that my character had to be in. Whereas with the violence, and how my character changes throughout the season, it’s a little bit easier for me to live in his shoes.
Did you have to suspend your belief too much to imagine that Nazis might be afoot in 1977 New York?
No, because I think there were. I’m not sure if they were in New York exactly, but they were definitely in the U.S. It’s a truth. It’s undeniable. The situations in the show were heightened and not realistic, and we definitely played with the tones, but the foundation being that Nazis were in the U.S., at least following World War II, that’s all based in fact.
You’ve worked with some major presences: Brad Pitt, Christian Bale, Jim Carrey, Emma Watson, Russell Crowe, and Heath Ledger. Is there anyone left who you’d really want to work with?
Oh, there are so many people. I could even name them all. There’s not really a list in my head of people I wanna work with. And I don’t typically approach work that way, in terms of who to work with. It’s all just luck and timing, but there’s so many great actors, I couldn’t really narrow it down to one off the top of my head. Moreso than actors, there’s filmmakers that excite me. Auteurs and wanting to support their vision.
This series certainly wasn’t the first time you’ve danced in a project. We need to talk about that for a minute.
[Snickers] That’s funny.
How does one rev up to dance to “Staying Alive” at Coney Island?
Oh god, honestly, I was so miserable. There was no prep, so I had to learn it so quickly, within hours. I was pretty frustrated on that day from the lack of prep and just feeling I wasn’t doing a good job and trying to make it work and, supposedly, it all turned out well, and people seem to like that sequence, but for instance, one time I danced in a movie, and I just did what I wanted to do. But this was like a choreographed sequence with a bunch of dancers, and that was a little challenging. And they’re all so good, so that made it even harder. Rather than last time when I got to do my own thing, which was easy.
That wasn’t the movie where you danced in front of Jessica Alba, right?
Oh god no, that wasn’t the one I was thinking of. I was thinking of Perks of a Wallflower from awhile ago. And that was barely even a dance, I was just like, row-boating my way into the dance floor. That was my form of a dance.
Amazon’s ‘Hunters’ begins streaming on February 21.