Hunters is unlike anything we’ve ever seen on mainstream TV before. Set in the late 1970s, Hunters follows a diverse group of Nazi hunters looking for those in the Fourth Reich living amongst them, the latest of whom to join the team is Jonah Heidelbaum, portrayed by Logan Lerman (Percy Jackson & The Olympians: The Lightning Thief). We got a chance to talk to Logan Lerman about his unassuming yet bold character, who goes on quite the journey rooted in loss.
On the style of the show, Lerman shared: “It’s a tonal mishmash of visual style. It’s a comedy and drama. It’s elevated and it’s grounded. It’s like, what is it? While audiences may not know, I hope they are curious, because I am curious to see how they respond to it. I am hoping the audience is passionate about it.”
On the challenges of playing Jonah and the deeper questions that this role and this show poses, he told us: “The first episode was really emotional to make and it is a tough series in general, with a big arc for my character. So, after the first couple of episodes, it settled down a bit, but those first couple were really tough because we’re setting up the groundwork for what our series is about.”
He continued: “But what really kept me engaged and passionate about the story throughout the year we were working on it, was exploring the question does it take evil to fight evil? Do you have to be bad to fight the bad guys? That’s really what the show is about. I think it’s interesting because it feels almost similar to like a comic book origin story, similar to Spider-Man, but then we take a hard-left turn. This is also rooted in reality, and even though a heightened version with some fun tonally different segments, but in real life, how would we handle this? You can’t always be a good guy to fight the bad guys, because history has shown us otherwise and that poses an interesting question at the center of our show.”
On what Meyer Offerman (Al Pacino, The Godfather) teaches Jonah about this Nazi-hunting journey, he said: “Meyer tells Jonah basically that his comic books are bullshit and not their reality. He tells Jonah that they have to take this hunt and kill approach, they have to do these things in order to protect their future. So, we decide that the legal way: finding, detaining, and putting everyone on trial individually, we can’t do that. We don’t have time because the states are too high, so we have to put this in our own hands. And you know, there’s personal revenge justice for all of us.”
On Jonah’s relationship with the rest of the Hunters crew as the season continues, Lerman told us: “Well he proves himself to be not only useful but important to the organization. A lot of his involvement in the group is really just him grappling with his own sense of morality and what morality means to him. Without giving too much away, there’s a lot that happens in his relationships with everyone, but ultimately its really fun and entertaining.”
On if Jonah and Logan share any traits, Lerman shared: “We’re actually very different. I’m not like him at all and I couldn’t personally relate to his plight. But ultimately, his background, history, experiences as a child, and culture is very similar to me, as I am an Ashkenazi Jew. So, there was a lot of truth that I can find from the character being Jewish, having those personal experiences and cultural authenticity. I am glad that I could not relate to my character as a person, so as an actor, I could have room to explore something new, explore myself and ask questions.”
On the lighter moments on the show and if we will see Jonah with his friends more often, he told us: “Well for starters, it was a delight working with Henry Hunter Hall (“Sherman ‘Cheeks’ Johnson”) and Caleb Emery (“Arthur ‘Bootyhole’ McGuigan”) who play Jonah’s best friends, because they are really fun. It’s fun when we get the Jonah perspective on things as well because it turns into a comic book or musical sequence, and it’s just fun times. But we will see more lightheartedness to balance the heavy tone. And we will continue to see the three worlds for Jonah: his life as and with the hunters, his life with his friends, and the version of life that takes place solely in his mind.”
On what happens when Jonah finally becomes aware of Millie (Jerrika Hinton, Grey’s Anatomy) and how their worlds converge, Lerman shared: “I don’t want to ruin anything, but it’s chaotic and there’s conflict. There are a few central conflicts in the series, and the one between Jonah and Millie is one of them. This conflict really goes back to the conversation about morality and what is right. what does my version of morality mean? Is it the same as yours? Millie is a Federal Officer, so she’s more stringent about this fine line and traditional in her approach to justice. But ultimately, whether they agree on the approach or not, they’re on the same side in this fight against Nazis.”
While we’ve only seen the first episodes so far, it is clear that Hunters strikes a delicate balance of in-your-face crime-fighting, with familial elements and dynamic character arcs and growth.