‘Percy Jackson’: Glynn Turman Explains How He Filmed Chiron Scenes on Horseback

Glynn Turman as the centaur Chiron in 'Percy Jackson and the Olympians'

Glynn Turman is really on horseback in Percy Jackson and the Olympians on Disney+. As an expert horseman in real life, the actor tells TV Insider he was truly “in his element” in this role.

Turman plays Mr. Brunner, who Percy (Walker Scobell) believes to be his teacher at Yancy Academy before the truth about the world of Greek gods and goddesses and their demigod children at Camp Half-Blood were revealed. Now, Percy knows Mr. Brunner for who he really is: the centaur Chiron, camp activities director and trainer of demigods.

As Chiron, Turman walks through the Camp Half-Blood grounds (filmed in Vancouver) on horseback. Few actors were as prepared to film on horseback as Turman. He’s been an avid horseman for decades for leisure and for work. He and his wife, Jo-Ann Allen, run a summer camp of their down that’s dedicated to teaching children and teens how to ride horses, among other activities you’d also find at Camp Half-Blood such as archery. Although these real-life kids aren’t training for quests to find stolen lightning bolts, they’re still being taught to handle life’s obstacles like Percy, Annabeth, and Grover.

Turman tells TV Insider, “We literally have our own Camp Half-Blood, only it’s called Camp Gid D Up.” When being cast in Percy Jackson, The Wire alum says, “I don’t know if I was art imitating life or life imitating art.”

Glynn Turman as Chiron, aka Mr. Brunner, in 'Percy Jackson & the Olympians'

Glynn Turman as Mr. Brunner/Chiron in Percy Jackson and the Olympians Episode 1 (Disney/David Bukach)

The creators of the series had no idea Turman was so skilled with horses when inquiring about his availability and interest in the role. As revealed during the Percy Jackson New York Comic Con panel in October (at which TV Insider was present), they just thought he’d be great as the regal and wise Chiron. When they asked Turman’s representation if he’d be comfortable riding a horse in scenes, they couldn’t help but chuckle.

“The horse that they paired me up with was fantastic,” Turman tells us of his four-legged scene partner. “We got along right away. We liked each other, which is important. It made it a lot of fun, a lot of fun. I was in my element.”

Nature and technology combined to bring Chiron to life. The top half of Turman’s Chiron wardrobe were tweed jackets, sweaters, shirts, and ties, as seen in the series, but he wore blue pants so the special effects team could edit out his legs, along with the horse’s head and neck. “I’m on the horse for real!” Turman says of his centaur scenes. “We were one. But because of technology, they’re able to make it look as though we are one.”

Much of Percy Jackson filmed on the Industrial Light Magic (ILM) “Volume,” a high-tech stage with video walls that is used in place of green screens. ILM created new tech for Percy Jackson while they filmed to allow for things such as water on the stage. Turman, who’s been in the business for decades, says the special effects and production quality of this series is “mind-boggling.”

“I remember when I did Gremlins, years and years ago, there were puppets,” the Emmy winner recalls. “Somebody was underneath the table operating the little gremlins like puppets. And now it’s a whole nother thing. You’ve got me half man, half horse. You’ve got all these gargoyles coming to life and everything. How far we have come.”

What really impressed Turman was the young stars, Scobell, Aryan Simhadri (Grover Underwood), and Leah Sava Jeffries (Annabeth Chase), and more. It’s not often that teens are the stars and adults are the less frequently seen guest stars. Turman and Jason Mantzoukas (Mr. D, aka Dionysus) spent a lot of time with the teen cast on set of Camp Half-Blood. What stood out most to Turman was “how ready and how good they are and how dedicated they are.”

“Nobody’s phoning anything in, they’re really on their A game,” he gushes. “I was really impressed with that. I don’t see a lot of that in the young talents these days. I see people taking stuff for granted, taking their fame for granted because of their social media. It’s about how many likes, so you play it safe and you do this to be liked. But these guys, they’re becoming craftsmen, which is a thing of the past. But I’m glad they’re picking up that mantel.”

Being a mentor to these kids is what Turman loves most about his character. “[Chiron] loves what he does. He loves the responsibility that he’s charged with, the welfare of these young minds, that he’s preparing them for all of the obstacles of life, which is quite a responsibility,” Turman shares. “And so I think that I understand exactly where he’s coming from.”

Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Tuesdays, 9/8c, Disney+ and Hulu