Onscreen and off, Sarah Gadon and Logan Lerman have great chemistry. In James Schamus' adaptation of “Indignation,” based on Philip Roth’s 2008 novel, they play Marcus, a young Jewish collegiate, and Olivia, a troubled fellow student, who begin a turbulent relationship in Ohio during the Korean War. Paired together they’re more comfortable, giggly. Early into our chat, Logan — the 24-year-old former child star of the “Percy Jackson” movies and “Fury” — confesses he doesn’t trust doctors. Gadon — 29 and of “Belle,” “11.23.63” and David Cronenberg’s last three films — jokily chides him for not looking out for himself. Once we get to the film itself, we talk about how they work with other actors and making an unusual film about 1950s America.
Explain how you first met.
Sarah Gadon: He was sitting with a full cape around him, like a six-year-old, getting his hair permed.
Logan Lerman: I had to get my Jew-curls. I don’t have particularly Jewish features.
Gadon: People say, “You have such great chemistry. How did that come about?” I think when you see your leading man just completely emasculated, you think, “I can get vulnerable with this guy. We can do anything together.”
Lerman: I just don’t care.
Gadon: You looked like an old Jewish grandma.
Lerman: I’m comfortable being an idiot. I’m comfortable embarrassing myself.
Is emasculating yourself how you typically break the ice?
Lerman: There is a process to it. When I was really young and learning, I worked with someone who made a huge impression on me, who established the foundation for how I work. I learned to create an environment for everyone, especially if you’re the lead in the film. You set the tone onset for everyone to feel comfortable and free. I don’t care because nobody should care. Everyone should feel comfortable to embarrass themselves and make mistakes.