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THE PERFORMANCE: Logan Lerman

The 17-yar-old actor, appearing opposite Renée Zellweger in 'My One and Only,' has had a passion for his profession from childhood.

August 20, 2009|Michael Ordona

You can't call actor Logan Lerman spineless.

"My whole family is in orthotics and prosthetics," he says, "so I grew up having to check for scoliosis every week. 'Come over. Let me feel your spine.' "

The 17-year-old costar of "My One and Only" (with Renee Zellweger and Kevin Bacon) is also putting some backbone into his acting, despite his youth.

"From a really young age, like 5 or whatever, I really wanted to do this because I really wanted to get out of school," he says with a laugh, calling from a beach at Lake Tahoe, where he's vacationing with his family.

He got his wish, appearing in such films as "The Patriot" and "What Women Want" at age 8. But, he says, "I really started acting when I was 12, when I was doing this television show called 'Jack & Bobby.' That's when I started taking things seriously and I grew a major passion for filmmaking."

He and his best friend "started living in movie theaters, seeing all these amazing movies, like 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.' Going back to the classics and seeing Vietnam War films like 'Platoon' and 'Apocalypse Now,' discovering these great pieces of art; it fueled my passion for being in this business. It's really all I do with my life; I see movies," he says.

He does admit to a few other interests (he plays several instruments, including guitar and piano) but insists, "I want to be a good actor more than anything, someone you can respect."

Among the respected actors Lerman has already worked with: Russell Crowe, Christian Bale and Heath Ledger.

"It's not really that you learn from them; you learn how to act with them. When I was younger," he says, then chuckles, "like, three years ago -- 'The Number 23' . . . As I said, I really loved 'Eternal Sunshine' -- I didn't understand acting as well as I do now, and I wanted to learn from one of my favorite actors, Jim Carrey.

"I don't know if he would remember this, but he would sit down with me and tell me all about his life, how he got into acting. I also learned a lot from how he prepares for roles. You pick up techniques from other people; you find what works for you. But being able to see how he does it, being able to talk to him, really helped me a lot."

In "My One and Only," Lerman takes on the persona of none other than George Hamilton ("I knew about him: The man with the tan," he says) in a story loosely based on one epic summer in the veteran actor's youth. After his parents abruptly split, he and his brother accompany their man-hunting, fading-belle mother (Zellweger) on a road trip across the U.S.

"I think I'll be meeting him [at the premiere] for the first time," says Lerman of the "Love at First Bite" star. "I've heard he's seen the film and he's really happy.

"A lot of the story, if I'm not mistaken, is fictional. It comes from Charlie Peters, mostly, the writer. I don't think he'll ever admit to that, but a lot of it is him too. But I wasn't playing an impression of George Hamilton."

George, the character, is a sardonic young man trying to be the responsible adult to his mother's impulsive childishness.

"He's a guarded individual. Toward the end, you get to see how he really feels about the whole situation and his relationship with his mother, once the journey has cracked open his shell."

Although Lerman's knowledge of Hamilton was limited, he was enthusiastic about playing the part from the time he read the script about three years before production began: "I was obsessed with the story, the fact that it was a decent movie and I wasn't going to go out there and make 'Dragonball Z' . . . I just wanted to make a good movie."

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Where you've seen him

Logan Lerman started by working with Mel Gibson twice (in "The Patriot" and "What Women Want," both released in 2000) and was one of the leads in TV's "Jack & Bobby" (2004-2005). Other films include "The Butterfly Effect" (with Ashton Kutcher), "The Number 23" (with Jim Carrey), "3:10 to Yuma" (with Russell Crowe and Christian Bale) and "Meet Bill" (with Aaron Eckhart and Jessica Alba). He will soon be seen in "Gamer" with Gerard Butler. But his favorite so far is the upcoming "Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief." "It was the most collaborative experience I've ever had, the most fulfilling because I really feel like it's going to be a classic. It's an epic, fun adventure. I love this movie. I'm crazy about it."

-- Michael Ordona

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