Imagine being Logan Lerman.
He’s a young actor who’s done the usual young-actor roles. (As a kid, he did a couple Mel Gibson films and starred in a “Hallmark Hall of Fame”; as a teen, he starred in a superhero movie, later doing a sequel.) But he’s also a film buff who admires the classics.
And suddenly, at 28, he’s starring (shown here) with Al Pacino. “He’s my favorite actor,” Lerman said.
For “Hunters” – which debuted Feb. 21 on Amazon Prime – they were colleagues. “It’s mainly Logan’s story,” said Pacino, 79.
That’s no exaggeration. “Hunters” goes 23 minutes before introducing its best-known actor. For four minutes, he does big, Pacino-esque things, leaving viewers wondering who the character is.
Not to spoil the surprise, but he’s a wealthy Holocaust survivor. In 1977 New York, he has organized a secret society to hunt and kill Nazis who escaped to America.
It’s an odd tale, springing from mismatched pieces of writer David Weil’s childhood. “My grandmother was a Holocaust survivor.” he said. “She would tell me stories about her time during the war. And as a young kid – 5, 6 years old – hearing those stories (felt) like the stuff of comic books and superheroes.”
So he gave this a slightly comic-book feel, as if Pacino is Professor X, leading Nazi-hunting X-men.
Reviews (aggregated by Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes) have been so-so for the story … but approving fort the cast, including its mismatched stars.
“We have a similar work ethic,” Lerman said. “And we really loved getting together and going through the material.”
This was heady stuff for someone who grew up in Beverly Hills, loving movies. When Lerman was 1 year old, Pacino got his seventh and eight Academy Award nominations and his only win; that year, he also had his 12th and 13th Golden Globe nominations and his second win.
While filming “Hunters,” Lerman said, the two would occasionally discuss movies’ classic days. “We talked about (his) collaboration with Sidney Lumet; I love ‘Dog Day (Afternoon)’ so much.”
Lumet directed that movie and “Serpico,” both bringing Oscar nominations for Pacino. “Hunters” is a different sort of experience, Pacino said, because:
– “Every week, or every 2-3 weeks, you get a new director.” There were six of them, for 10 episodes.
– There were no rehearsals before filming began. “Sidney required it – three, four weeks of rehearsals.”
Instead, he and Lerman would carve out their own rehearsal time. “We would find time on the weekend or something to get together.”
Which probably exceeded Lerman’s childhood dreams.
His dad’s company specializes in prosthetics and orthoses (external devices). Lerman grew up comfortably and landed movie roles.
He was Gibson’s son in “The Patriot” and Gibson’s younger self in “What Women Want.” At 11, he starred in “The Painted House,” based on Grisham’s childhood. At 12, he played a lad who would later be president, in “Jack & Bobby.” At 18 and 21, he starred in the Percy Jackson movies.
And now he’s working with a superstar. Lately, Pacino has been playing a lot of real-life people – Jimmy Hoffa, Joe Paterno, Phil Spector, Roy Cohn, Jack Kevorkian. Now he creates a fictional person … who might be similar to others he’s known or played.
“I’ve known so many people,” Pacino said. “I’ve done so many roles.”