Ahead of the release of season two of Netflix’s Greek Mythological animated show Blood of Zeus, Neos Kosmos spoke with creators Charley and Vlas Parlapanides.

The show tells the story of the illegitimate son of Zeus, Heron, a young man tasked with saving heaven and earth despite the interference of a vengeful goddess and her monstrous forces.

The brother writing team spoke about how Greek Mythology is as strong as ever in media and about their upbringing in an immigrant Greek American household and what it took to break into the film and television industry.

A return to old

Greek Mythology has been a major part of all media for as long as time essentially – given that it dates back to 18th century BC.

Many young adults today grew up reading the Percy Jackson books, which introduced them to the stories through modern day characters in a Western setting.

It has since been adapted to two movies and now a new TV show.

One of the most successful current video game franchises is God of War, and while that has moved to Norse mythology, its main character and beginnings were in the Greek realm. A TV show is also in the works that may very well go back to its Greek roots.

On the set of Immortals. Photo: Supplied

Sticking with video games, in recent years we have seen the likes of Hades and Immortal Fenyx Rising, while arguably the biggest game in the world, Fortnite, has recently introduced Greek Gods and more in their latest season.

“I think we’re very fortunate with the timing,” Charley told Neos Kosmos.

“There’s a generation of people that grew up reading the Percy Jackson books. Then they went from reading Percy Jackson to playing the video game God of War.

“I think we’re kind of the third step in that evolution.”

As audiences continue to be enthralled by Greek Mythology, an interesting comparison was made between those tales and other stories that have dominated in the 21st century.

“I also think it’s coupled with the fact that there has been so much superhero content, but the truth is the Olympian gods were the world’s first superheroes,” Charley said.

“I think because people are constantly inundated with the superhero story, to put a slightly different spin on it and seeing characters like that but in the world of Greek mythology, I think that also felt fresh.”

Blood of Zeus still shot of Heron (centre), Alexia (left), Kofi (second to left), Evios (right). Photo: Supplied

The brothers also said they think the success of X-Men 97 is going to help shows like Blood of Zeus and other shows.

Now that’s a huge IP but they argue that Greek mythology is huge IP, and the better these shows do, the more you’ll see.

“We’re a bit biased but Greek mythological tales we feel really are the best and the most entertaining, and the ones that speak to us on so many different levels,” Vlas said.

“We’re very fortunate and very proud to be Greek American.”

Living the American dream

Vlas and Charley’s mother was born and raised in Greece, and their father, like a lot of Greek Americans, owned a diner.

They were working class people, also owning hot dog stand, then a parking lot and all these family businesses.

“We very much had that immigrant upbringing, in that education was very important, and faith and family were very important,” Vlas said.

“We were taught to work very hard and we saw how hard our parents worked. They were our role models and we didn’t want to let them down.

“Growing up in the Greek American home, to say you wanted to be a writer, a director or an actor, it was looked down upon.

Newspaper article about the brothers and their first feature film. Photo: Supplied

He said while their parents were always supportive, to an extent, they put pressure on themselves to do well for them.

Both brothers went on to study Economics and Theatre in College. Vlas graduated from Villanova University while Charley graduated from Swarthmore College and Loyola Law School.

“We did what we thought we had to do, which was get an education, get real jobs,” Charley said.

“But the truth is, there was a part of us that always loved movies and TV shows, but we didn’t know anything about the business. And we grew up in a little beach town in New Jersey, which was as far from Hollywood as you could be.”

Vlas briefly worked on Wall Street at Oppenheimer & Co, doing eight to ten-hour days, but still held onto that dream of doing something creative.

So, he would read and write as many screenplays as he could in his spare time.

Charley also worked ‘real’ jobs and worked as an assistant to producer Scott Rudin.

The two tried to learn the business and say they came to the realisation that with writing, “nobody cares where you went to school, what you do for a living or who you are.”

“If you write a great script and people think they can make money off of it and it’s commercial, doors will open and the great thing about writing is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to do it. You just have to find the time to do it.”

Blood of Zeus still shot of the sky. Photo: Supplied

Breaking into the industry

The brothers first independent feature film was Everything For A Reason, which had a Greek theme to it and premiered at the AFI International Film Festival.

However, by the time they were set to release the film, the distributer went out of business and My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out.

So, any heat the film would have had was gone.

The two have been very fortunate to have found great success working in the Greek Mythology area however.

They wrote the 2011 movie Immortals, which is loosely based on Thesues and the Minotaur, and opened up No.1 in the worldwide box office.

They said when working on Immortals, it didn’t turn out exactly as they originally envisioned, with script changes and other factors that come with working on a movie.

Behind the scenes of Blood of Zeus season 1 production. Photo: Supplied

But overall it was a great experience.

However, Blood of Zeus has become their crown achievement.

Season one of Blood of Zeus was in the Top 10 of Netflix’s most-watched content – that included tv shows, movies and animated series.

It reached number one in over 45 countries.

In addition, it was a critical hit, amassing a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

“When it came to Blood of Zeus, the most rewarding part of doing the animated show is that they told our story as we wanted them to tell it.”

“That was the first time in our career, with the exception of the independent film, where we were involved from the inception of idea all the way until completion of the show.”

Look out for Neos Kosmos‘ review of season 2 of Blood of Zeus soon.