Logan Lerman Honors Two Households in ‘We Have been the Fortunate Ones’

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Logan Lerman has been an actor for greater than 20 years, beginning at age 5, and he’s been despatched a lot of scripts concerning the Holocaust. They learn as exploitative to him.

“That’s all the time rubbed me the improper approach,” he mentioned. “I’m like, ‘No, that doesn’t really feel proper.’”

However the story of the Shoah he now stars in, “We Have been the Fortunate Ones,” felt completely different to the performer greatest identified for his work in movies like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” (2012) and “Fury” (2014).

Primarily based on the novel of the identical title by Georgia Hunter, the eight-episode collection premieres Thursday on Hulu. It tracks the members of the Kurc household as they’re dispersed all through Japanese Europe, the place they reside, and elsewhere when the Nazis invade. Lerman, 32, stars as Addy Kurc, a musician who has been residing in Paris and finds himself unable to get residence to Radom, Poland. His journey takes him to Casablanca and finally Rio de Janeiro, all whereas he’s unaware of the fates of his beloved siblings and fogeys. Because the title would suggest, that is much less a narrative of loss than it’s of survival.

Whereas Hunter’s ebook is fictional, the Kurcs are named for and primarily based on her maternal grandfather’s household, and their sagas have been derived from her in depth analysis into their experiences. A co-executive producer of the collection, she shared that background with Lerman as he got down to play Addy, who relies on her grandfather. However the actor reached into his personal private historical past as nicely, channeling his personal grandfather, who was additionally a Jewish refugee throughout World Warfare II. The result’s a efficiency that mixes each household histories, paying tribute to Hunter and Lerman’s ancestry within the course of.

“I additionally needed to do it given that I used to be like, ‘Oh I need to present my grandfather this,’” Lerman mentioned in a video name.

Max Lerman, Lerman’s paternal grandfather, ended up in China after fleeing Germany. He died final 12 months, however his grandchild grew up listening to his tales.

“It was all the time a blur to me, as a result of I didn’t know what was actual or what was faux and made up for the imaginative bedtime story I used to be advised as a child,” Lerman mentioned.

He added: “Studying about it as I received older, it was sophisticated, emotionally understanding it, the emotional fact of it for my grandfather.”

Lerman mentioned he considered his grandfather all through filming and included a few of his mannerisms into his efficiency. It’s the form of deeply felt tie to the fabric the creators of “We Have been the Fortunate Ones” appeared for once they solid the Kurcs, all performed by Jewish actors. (Different stars embody Joey King, Robin Weigert, Henry Lloyd-Hughes and Lior Ashkenazi.)

“We weren’t prescriptive about what Jewishness meant,” the showrunner Erica Lipez mentioned. “It’s fascinating to have a mixture of people who find themselves non secular, those that aren’t, those that don’t follow, those that have household connections however haven’t been raised in that approach.”

Lerman mentioned he typically doesn’t really feel strongly about whether or not Jewish components are performed by Jewish actors, however “I perceive that folks will join with it in another way figuring out that, although.”

Lerman has performed explicitly Jewish characters just a few instances earlier than, together with in a 2016 movie adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel “Indignation,” directed by James Schamus. Most lately he starred within the Amazon Prime Video collection “Hunters,” a revenge fantasy a few group combating Nazis within the Seventies. Whereas “Hunters,” which ran two seasons and ended final 12 months, covers among the similar thematic materials as “We Have been the Fortunate Ones” — together with the lingering scars of the Holocaust — Lerman noticed the 2 as worlds aside, given the campy tone of the Amazon collection.

“I used to be seeking to do one thing very completely different,” he mentioned. (He added that “Hunters,” with its silliness and over-the-top violence, was a lot much less grandfather-friendly.)

As a result of Addy was such a significant character for Hunter, who was current for a lot of the shoot, Lipez mentioned that they appeared for somebody who would “take nice care” with taking part in him. Additionally they knew they needed to rent an actor with musical expertise, who may play Addy’s real-life compositions for the present. Whereas Lerman isn’t generally known as a musician, he performs the piano and has “music in his DNA,” in accordance with the director and govt producer Thomas Kail, greatest identified for guiding “Hamilton” on Broadway.

Hunter knew her grandfather solely later in his life, after he had modified his identify to Eddy Courts, and by the point she was 10 or 11 years outdated, he was “fairly sick” with Parkinson’s, she mentioned. She didn’t find out about his wartime experiences till after he died. Nonetheless, she shared with Lerman particulars that wouldn’t make it onto the display screen in an specific approach.

“The truth that he made the whole lot in his home by hand, that he solely spoke French on the dinner desk, his little mannerisms,” Hunter mentioned. “I believe it was actually essential to Logan to peel again the layers on his character and perceive who he was. It was so essential to me that Logan was open to that form of info, as a result of it simply meant he cared.”

Hunter mentioned he nailed the portrayal, including that there have been similarities between the actor and her grandfather. “They share a lot of that soulfulness, that charisma, that confidence,” she mentioned.

Lerman mentioned that Hunter’s presence on set yielded “a special stage of connection to the fabric” than he had beforehand skilled on a job. However he by no means felt constrained by having Hunter and her mom on set — each had cameos within the collection — to observe him painting their ancestor.

As a substitute, he was reassured by them that he may carry his interpretation to the fabric, together with the sarcasm and humor of his personal grandfather. The efficiency stands as a homage to each males, and it was made extra poignant nonetheless when Lerman’s grandfather died, at 95, per week after the manufacturing ended.

“I talked to him about this so much,” Lerman mentioned. “And I used to be actually excited for him to see it.”

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