Lerman was born in Beverly Hills, California. His mother, Lisa (née Goldman), works as his manager, and his father, Larry Lerman, is a businessman and orthotist. He has two elder siblings named Lindsey and Lucas.
Lerman is Jewish, and had a Bar Mitzvah ceremony. His grandparents were born in four different countries. Logan's paternal grandfather, Max Lerman, was born in Berlin, Germany, in 1927, to a Polish Jewish family; they left Germany in the 1930s, because of the Nazi regime, and lived in Shanghai, China until the end of World War II. Logan's paternal grandmother, Mina (Schwartz), was born in Mexico City, Mexico, to Russian Jewish parents. Logan's maternal grandfather was a Polish Jewish immigrant, and Logan's maternal grandmother was born in Los Angeles, also to a Jewish immigrant family. On his mother's side, he is a relative, by marriage, of twin singers Evan and Jaron Lowenstein.
Lerman has stated that he is a "black sheep" in his household because he is an actor, while most of his relatives work in the medical profession. His family owns and operates the orthotics and prosthetics company Lerman & Son, which was founded by his great-grandfather, Jacob Lerman, in 1915.
Lerman is a self-described "film geek", and has said that he is "shaped by movies", and that he is a "creative person". He has expressed an interest in being involved in "everything that goes into making a film", including wanting to write, produce, and direct. His favorite directors include Paul Thomas Anderson, Stanley Kubrick, David Fincher and Peter Bogdanovich, and he has cited American Beauty, Defending Your Life and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind as being among his favorite films. Lerman has described himself as "reserved and quiet", "a homebody", and "not a big fan of sports". He attended Beverly Hills High School. In 2010, he applied to study creative writing at New York University, but has postponed his attendance.
Lerman had a passion for movies from a young age, though he started acting "just for fun" and "to do something to get out of school". He began auditioning for roles in the late 1990s, and first appeared in commercials. He made his film debut in 2000's The Patriot, playing William Martin, one of the children of Mel Gibson's character. The same year, he appeared in another Mel Gibson film, What Women Want, playing Gibson's character as a child. In 2001's Riding in Cars with Boys, he played the son of Drew Barrymore's character. Lerman has stated that while appearing in his earliest roles as a child, he did not have "any conscious awareness of what I was doing or what was going on" and "didn’t have a good experience".
In 2003, Lerman played nine-year-old Luke Chandler in the CBS made-for-television film A Painted House, based on the early life of author John Grisham and set in Black Oak, Arkansas in the early 1950s. A Painted House was filmed in Lepanto and Clarksdale, Mississippi, in 2002. A review in the Boston Globe described Lerman as a "promising newcomer", with the Telegraph-Herald commenting on the character having been "quietly and effectively played". For the role, he was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Performance by a Leading Young Actor in a television production, and tied with Calum Worthy for the win. He next appeared in the 2004 thriller film The Butterfly Effect, portraying a seven-year-old version of Ashton Kutcher's character, Evan Treborn. digitallyOBSESSED's reviewer described Lerman as "definitely a child actor to watch".
Lerman had quit acting for a "year or so" in the early 2000s, when he was ten. He made a "conscious decision" to embrace acting as a profession when he was twelve, having developed an interest in the film making process. In 2004, he was cast in the television series Jack & Bobby, playing one of the title roles, Robert "Bobby" McCallister, a 12-year-old "extremely bright social misfit" in Missouri who was destined to become President of the United States as an adult. The show ran on The WB Television Network during the 2004–2005 season, receiving some positive reviews but low ratings, and was subsequently canceled. Lerman was nominated for another Young Artist Award for his performance, tying with Jack DeSena for the win. Lerman has stated that he "started taking things seriously" about his career after appearing on the show. The Boston Herald's reviewer mentioned that Lerman's performance had a "blend of vulnerability and strength," while Entertainment Weekly's reviewer had noted that "Lerman lends Bobby a bedraggled optimism". Continuing his film work, Lerman had his first starring role in a motion picture, playing Roy Eberhardt in the children's adventure Hoot; his character moves to Florida from Montana and attempts to save endangered burrowing owls. Lerman stated that the film's message is "that you can be any age and make a difference". Hoot began filming in July 2005 in South Florida, opened on May 5, 2006, and won him a third Young Artist Award, this time for Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor (2007). The Washington Post's reviewer commented that "Lerman shows some life as Roy", though his role was "an anomaly in a sea of insipidity", while the San Francisco Chronicle's reviewer disliked Lerman's performance.
In 2007, Lerman appeared in the thriller The Number 23, in which he played the son of Walter Sparrow (Jim Carrey), a man who becomes obsessed with numerology. That year, he also appeared in the critically acclaimed western remake 3:10 to Yuma, playing William Evans, a teenager who looks up to criminal Ben Wade (Russell Crowe) while shunning his father (Christian Bale's character); Lerman's character did not exist in the original version of the story. Lerman received positive reviews for his work, and was again nominated for the Young Artist Award - Best Performance in a Feature Film - Leading Young Actor (2008). It was the second consecutive year he received a nomination in that category, although this time he did not win. USA Today stated that he was among the film's "best supporting players", while Rolling Stone gave Lerman a "shout-out" and Newsday stated that he delivers a "credibly explicit note".
In 2008, Lerman co-starred in the comedy Meet Bill, as a teenager mentored by Bill (Aaron Eckhart). Meet Bill was filmed in 2006, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2007, and received a theatrical release on April 4, 2008. Hollywood.com stated that, though the film was uneven, Lerman "displays a supreme confidence". In 2009, he appeared in the science fiction film Gamer, as Simon, a teenage gamer who controls one of the characters in a video game played with live human subjects (Gamer was filmed in November 2007). Also that year, Lerman had a leading role in the Renée Zellweger comedy feature My One and Only, playing a teenage character based on actor George Hamilton – depicted as an aspiring writer who, after his parents split, accompanies his mother and brother on a cross-country trip, eventually arriving in Hollywood. Bloomberg's reviewer described Lerman as appealing, with the Los Angeles Times' Betsy Sharkey stating that the character "captures the ease with which an angry teen will use a growing vocabulary to wound a parent".
In spring 2009, Lerman was cast in the lead role as Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. The movie was filmed in 2009 in Vancouver, British Columbia, and was released in February 2010. Lerman has stated that he was not familiar with the book series when he received the script. During his teenage years, Lerman and his family had viewed his acting work as just a "hobby" before college; his parents had only become more comfortable with acting as a career in 2010, the year of Percy Jackson's release. In August 2010, Lerman appeared in "Change the Odds", a public service announcement video for the Stand Up to Cancer charity; the video also featured Dakota Fanning, Zac Efron, Andrew Garfield and other actors.
Lerman's next role was d'Artagnan, in director Paul W. S. Anderson's 3D film version of The Three Musketeers, which was released in the U.S. on October 21, 2011. Lerman was cast in the role without having to audition. He took the role because The Three Musketeers was one of the only books his paternal grandfather had taken with him when he "had to leave his home... as a young kid", in the 1930s. Lerman trained in sword fighting for three months and wore hair extensions to portray d'Artagnan, whom he has described as "the most different character to me that I've ever played". The film received negative reviews, with Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune writing that "Lerman already has done solid work... but he's a blank slate here".
Lerman starred in a film adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, playing the lead role, Charlie; filming took place in 2011, and the movie was released in September 2012. Lerman has described the film as a "life epic", and stated that he had been "torturing [himself] for... a few months in order to get inside Charlie's head". The movie received positive reviews, as did Lerman's performance. Leonard Maltin wrote that Lerman and his co-stars are "soulful", and "lift this film above the norm for coming-of-age stories", while Christy Lemire of the Associated Press wrote that, by the film's end, Lerman "bust[s] out, show[s] some range and reveal[s] he can really, truly act". For his performance, Lerman was nominated for several awards, including Best Young Actor/Actress by the Broadcast Film Critics Association, and won a Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actor: Drama.
Lerman played Lou in the independent drama film Stuck in Love, starring alongside Lily Collins; the film received a limited U.S. release in 2013. Lerman had initially been signed to appear in three Percy Jackson films. The second film in the series, subtitled Sea of Monsters, was filmed in 2012 and 2013, and released in August 2013.
Lerman played Ham, the son of prophet Noah, in the Biblical epic Noah, directed by Darren Aronofsky. Filming took place in 2012, in New York and Iceland, and Noah was released on March 28, 2014, to positive reviews. Lerman next co-starred with Brad Pitt and Shia LaBeouf in David Ayer's World War II-set film, Fury; in the film, Lerman's character is an American soldier fighting Nazi forces. Filming began in September 2013, and the movie received an October 2014 release. Reviews for Fury were positive; Matt Stieb of the San Antonio Current wrote that Lerman "manages to hold his own" opposite Pitt, and Lerman's performance was described as a "great turn" by Oliver Lyttelton of Indiewire.
Lerman played the lead, Marcus Messner, in Indignation, an adaptation of Philip Roth's 2008 novel of the same name, directed by James Schamus; his character is a student who faces antisemitism and sexual repression while coming of age at a 1950s Ohio college. Filming began in June 2015. Indignation premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival, and was theatrically released in July 2016. It received positive reviews for both the film itself and Lerman's performance, with Tim Grierson of ScreenDaily writing that Lerman's work "seethes with his character’s burgeoning arrogance and cynicism", and David Rooney of The Hollywood Reporter stating that Lerman gives "a performance of tremendous focus, maturity and depth of feeling, with exciting flashes of the umbrage that gives the film its title". Lerman also served as one of the film's executive producers, receiving his first such credit.
Lerman played the titular role in Shawn Christensen's feature drama, Sidney Hall (2017). He was also an executive producer for the film, which began production in New York City in April 2016, and premiered on January 25, at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Lerman will voice Robert Conroy, a real-life soldier who worked with World War I hero war dog Sergeant Stubby, in Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, an animated film scheduled for release on April 13, 2018. He will also star opposite John Hawkes and Sarah Bolger in the film End of Sentence, in which he will play the son of Hawkes' character, as the two travel to Ireland. Filming began on location in May 2017. Lerman has also signed to star opposite Olivia Cooke in the spy drama The Tracking of a Russian Spy, in which Lerman will play American journalist Mitch Swenson.
Lerman was represented by Creative Artists Agency from January 2011 to September 2017, when he signed with William Morris Endeavor.
Lerman is a friend of actor Dean Collins, who played his best friend on Jack & Bobby; they remained close after the series' cancellation, and worked together again on Hoot, where Collins had a supporting role. In their spare time, the two collaborated on comedic short films. As well as acting, they wrote, directed, and shot the videos, often enlisting the help of family and friends. The shorts were uploaded to YouTube under the joint account name of "monkeynuts1069".
In 2006, Dean Collins and Lerman formed a band, Indigo, along with musician Daniel Pashman; Collins sang lead vocals, Lerman played keyboard and guitar, and Pashman played the drums. In 2011, Lerman stated that Indigo is "not a serious band right now", and that music is his biggest passion after film. He plays the piano and is a fan of movie music compositions. Lerman also writes and creates loglines for stories.
BlackBook magazine wrote that Lerman "aspires to be the head of a [film] studio one day".