ALEX PETTYFER on 'I AM NUMBER FOUR'
Interview by Michael J. Lee, Executive Editor for RadioFree.com
February 12, 2011
In the science fiction thriller I Am Number Four, nine alien survivors from a planet called Lorien, each with a specific numerical designation, take refuge on earth. Doing their best to be inconspicuous, they are ruthlessly hunted by the genocidal Mogadorians, who can only kill them in sequential order. When the first three of their ranks are slain, Number Four (Alex Pettyfer) finds himself as the next target on this extraterrestrial hit list. Operating under the guise of high school student John Smith, he begins to exhibit superhuman abilities known as Legacies, including enhanced strength, telekinesis, and mysterious energy beams emitted from his hands.
But Number Four longs for a normal life in which he is not constantly on the run, and these inherent, still-maturing powers take a backseat to a growing romantic relationship with his classmate Sarah (Dianna Agron). Much to the chagrin of his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), he disregards the need for extreme discretion, and when the Mogadorians eventually catch up with him, he is forced to finally make a stand against his mortal enemies. Fortunately, he is joined in this fight by an unexpected ally--the enigmatic Number Six (Teresa Palmer), who shows him that their formidable gifts are enhanced when used in tandem.
In this exclusive interview, Alex Pettyfer talks about working on I Am Number Four, and gives a brief preview of his next two films, Beastly and Now.
RadioFree.com: What did you like most about the character of Number Four?
ALEX: I loved the fact that he was a reluctant hero, and that he was this guy who wanted normality, except he can't get it.
How did the stunt work on I Am Number Four compare to what you did years ago on Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker?
[laughs] This is a lot more intense, and a lot more wire work. There was more flexability training, whereas there was a lot more martial arts included in Stormbreaker. And I did all my own stunts in this movie.
What was your biggest physical challenge?
Probably doing a back flip off the waterfall. It's one of our proudest moments, because it's in the trailer...There's two wires [by my hips]...And you have to get the exact angle, and then come out and land.
Did that involve a lot of takes where you had to dive, climb back up, dive again, climb back up again...?
We did six takes. Which is a lot, I guess. But not "Fincher takes"...
So you have to be pretty comfortable with heights and swimming going into something like this, right?
Yeah. And I was a little baby. [laughs] But no, I had fun. I had a lot of fun.
What was your favorite Legacy power?
I think the best power is telekinesis, doing things without touching them. But as an actor, I loved the Lumen, because I had lights in my hands. It was real...So I would [make the movement] and the lights would come on.
Number Four has very distinct relationships with Sarah, Number Six, and Henri. How did you like developing those with your co-stars?
It was great. You know, the best part of our job is [that] you get to react off someone else. And someone else goes away and works hard and figures out what they want to do in their performance, and you get this great reaction from your actors and your peers. And that's what it's all about. I loved working with Dianna and Teresa and Timothy.
Audiences love the scene in which Number Six bursts in and starts kicking ass. As a viewer, do you have a favorite signature moment from the film?
That's a great moment...But I [also] think the moment where John's upstairs with Sarah, and the interaction that they have together.
What's the next movie that we'll see you in?
Beastly will be the next film...That will come out March 4. But I actually filmed that before I Am Number Four.
What can we expect from that story?
It's a modern day Beauty and the Beast, and it's told through, like, the Beast's perspective. It's different. Sort of edgy.
I know you had to put on a lot of special effects make-up for that role. How long was that process?
Six hours a day, dude...
Even with Hollywood constantly perfecting the process? Why so long?
They had to glue on all the pieces. It takes two hours, because they have to get it exactly right, and I had 75 pieces on my face. And then they had to spray paint it, and then they have to put the tattoos on, and then stick the piercings on, and then do some more. It just takes a long time.
You'll be playing a bad guy in Now. As an actor, what's the role gratifying role: hero or villain?
It's more gratifying to play the villain...Because baddies have more fun. You get to have more range, you get to be crazy.
Well, congratulations on the films, and thanks for your time.
Thank you for everything.