How 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' pulled off Poseidon and Sally's emotional diner chat (2024)

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Virginia Kull and Toby Stephens talk about shooting episode 7's pivotal scene.

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How 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' pulled off Poseidon and Sally's emotional diner chat (1)

Virginia Kull and Toby Stephens in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."Credit: Mashable Composite: Disney / David Bukach

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is a rollicking fantasy adventure, complete with frightening monsters, high-stakes battles, and gods pulled straight from Greek mythology. So it may come as a surprise that one of the show's best — and most talked-about — scenes is a quiet discussion between two parents.

Of course, these aren't normal parents. One is the Greek god Poseidon (Toby Stephens). The other is mortal Sally Jackson (Virginia Kull), who has spent the last 12 years preparing her son Percy (Walker Scobell) for his heroic destiny — and protecting him from the world of the Olympians.

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How is 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' different from the books?

Like many stories from ancient legends, Sally and Poseidon's relationship is a tragic romance. Separated by circumstances of literally mythic proportion, unable to raise Percy together because Olympian law dictates that Poseidon shouldn't even have a child, their story has no clear solution. Sally carries the burden of the truth about Percy's parentage, while Poseidon is unable to help without endangering both his son and the woman he loves. It's a tough dynamic to understand solely through Percy's eyes, but in episode 7, "We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of," Percy Jackson and the Olympians offers us a bigger window into Sally and Poseidon's connection, in all its painful messiness and surprising beauty.

How 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' pulled off Poseidon and Sally's emotional diner chat (2)

Toby Stephens in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."Credit: Disney / David Bukach

"We Find Out the Truth, Sort Of" marks our first introduction to Poseidon and what his relationship with Sally really looks like. Because of this, our first glimpse of Poseidon in the flesh is not some bombastic display of godly power, but of a man and a woman simply talking in a diner about the difficulties Sally faces in raising Percy alone.

"It was a really clever way to introduce their relationship and introduce Poseidon, because it makes them very human," Stephens said of the scene in a video call with Mashable. "It's a domestic scene between a mother and father, and at the heart of it there's this pain. It's a yearning between two people to be connected who can't be, but Poseidon is also yearning to be connected with his son but can't because he's protecting him."

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

The diner scene was the first scene Stephens shot for the series, yet the chemistry and history between Poseidon and Sally were already well within reach for the actors. "I really liked working with Virginia, and she's a really great actress," said Stephens. "We found that very quickly. The scene just had a very intimate feel."

Percy Jackson and the Olympians began creating that sense of intimacy between Sally and Poseidon right from the very first episode, with a scene that sees Sally sitting on her fire escape, taking in the rain.

Kull was incredibly excited to see the fire escape scene when she first read the script. "In television, you typically don't have time for things like quiet, ordinary moments. And this seems like a humdrum moment, but I think it tells such a huge story," Kull said. "It's not just Sally sitting in the rain on the fire escape — she's sitting in the rain communing with the great love of her life and the father of her kid, and this is the way that she feels close to him."

How 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' pulled off Poseidon and Sally's emotional diner chat (3)

Virginia Kull in "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."Credit: Disney/David Bukach

The diner sequence feels like a natural progression from that fire escape moment. Sally and Poseidon are connecting in both, but there's still a distance between them. On the fire escape, Poseidon isn't actually present. But even when he's next to Sally in the diner, there's a tragic divide between them. They're close, but still far apart.

Director Anders Engström achieved this paradoxical nearness by telling Kull and Stephens to play the whole scene without ever looking at each other. For Kull, that became a key to unlocking the power of the diner scene.

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"What that did to us as actors was that all of the feelings of, 'I need to see how this is affecting the person that I'm speaking to, I want to know what he thinks about what I'm saying,' we couldn't act on," Kull explained. "Therefore, the desire to be heard, to be understood, and to connect was so heightened and so charged, it was electric. It meant that any bad impulse to 'perform' went away, and I was just desperately listening to and clinging to what he was saying. Even the silences were powerful."

In these silences, where Sally and Poseidon sit shoulder-to-shoulder yet never look at one another, Percy Jackson and the Olympians builds an entire world of a relationship that, up to this point, we haven't fully understood.

"Because Poseidon has been absent for the whole show, the audience is going, 'What a jerk, this guy is this absentee father.' And then when you meet him, you go, 'Right, I get it. It's much more complicated, and actually he really does care,'" Stephens said. "This scene is not in the book, but I think it's needed in the TV version, because it gives you much more context."

Percy Jackson and the Olympians is now streaming on Disney+.

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How 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' pulled off Poseidon and Sally's emotional diner chat (4)

Belen Edwards

Entertainment Reporter

Belen Edwards is an Entertainment Reporter at Mashable. She covers movies and TV with a focus on fantasy and science fiction, adaptations, animation, and more nerdy goodness.

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Insights, advice, suggestions, feedback and comments from experts

As an expert and enthusiast, I have personal experiences or emotions, but I can provide you with information related to the concepts mentioned in this article. Here's what I found:

Percy Jackson and the Olympians

"Percy Jackson and the Olympians" is a fantasy adventure series that features elements from Greek mythology, including gods, monsters, and epic battles. The story revolves around Percy Jackson, a young boy who discovers that he is the son of Poseidon, the Greek god of the sea. The series follows Percy's journey as he navigates the world of the Olympians and fulfills his heroic destiny. The series is available for streaming on Disney+ [[1]].

Virginia Kull and Toby Stephens

Virginia Kull and Toby Stephens are actors who appear in the series "Percy Jackson and the Olympians." Virginia Kull portrays the character Sally Jackson, Percy's mortal mother, while Toby Stephens plays the role of Poseidon, the Greek god and Percy's father. The article highlights their performances in a pivotal scene in episode 7 of the series, where their characters have a quiet discussion [[1]].

Sally Jackson and Poseidon's Relationship

In "Percy Jackson and the Olympians," the relationship between Sally Jackson and Poseidon is described as a tragic romance. Due to the circumstances and the laws of the Olympians, they are unable to raise Percy together. Sally carries the burden of knowing the truth about Percy's parentage, while Poseidon is torn between his love for Sally and the need to protect his son. The article emphasizes that the diner scene in episode 7 provides a deeper understanding of their connection and the complexities of their relationship [[1]].

The Diner Scene

The diner scene in episode 7 of "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" serves as the first introduction to Poseidon and provides insight into his relationship with Sally. The scene depicts a domestic conversation between the two characters, highlighting their pain, yearning for connection, and the challenges they face in raising Percy. The actors, Toby Stephens and Virginia Kull, praised the scene for its intimacy and the opportunity it provided to explore their characters' emotions [[1]].

Director's Approach

Director Anders Engström instructed the actors, Virginia Kull and Toby Stephens, to play the entire diner scene without looking at each other. This approach created a sense of nearness and heightened the desire for connection between the characters. The actors found that this technique allowed them to focus on listening and understanding each other's words, resulting in powerful performances and conveying the complexities of their relationship [[1]].

I hope this information helps! Let me know if there's anything else I can assist you with.

How 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians' pulled off Poseidon and Sally's emotional diner chat (2024)
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