In this re-imagining of the 1981 film Endless Love (starring Brooke Shields and Martin Hewitt), David Elliot (Alex Pettyfer), the working-class boy from a troubled background, falls for the beautiful Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde) and attempts to prove to her privileged family that he is worthy of her love. When her father (Bruce Greenwood) does everything he can to keep them apart, their love affair becomes reckless, as they give in to their passion.
During a press conference to promote the film, actor Alex Pettyfer talked about finding the right tone, his favorite romantic films, making this version more accessible for audiences, how secure he is about approaching women, working with this cast, how awkward kissing scenes are to shoot, what he remembers about his own first love, and that he’s currently unemployed but auditioning. Check out what he had to say after the jump.
ALEX PETTYFER: What I love about this movie is that it’s about two young people falling in love for the first time, and that naivete that they have, which was very inspiring for me to do the movie. A lot of movies, like Love Story, which is one of my favorite love films of all time, with Ali McGraw and Ryan O’Neill, touch on the basis of what they have to do when they fall in love, and then get married and have children. This movie doesn’t touch on that subject. It’s about pure love, and the consequences that come with that, with being a young man and a young woman. My favorite romantic comedies are Love, Actually and Bridget Jones. Please do not judge. This film was great. I am 23, turning 24 soon. I think when you’re my age, you want to have an aura of being a man. To do this film, you had to go back and become a child again, to feel all of those feelings for the first time. And it’s a very scary thing for anyone to act like a child and have those innate feelings that come to you. And Shana [Feste] was great, guiding me with all of that. That’s why I wanted to be a part of this.
In the original film, David was a little more unstable, there was some volatility to him, and he was not this wonderful guy. Was there a process, in the making of this movie, to tone that down and make him more accessible, so that audiences do have empathy for him?
PETTYFER: The thing with Shana’s Endless Love is that we wanted to start the movie where David has made a conscious decision to change his life for the better. We access the movie at a point where he’s already a little bit in love with Jade. When they meet at the valet, that’s a moment that’s been waiting to happen for four years. We didn’t want to indulge in something that he was a part of in the past. We just wanted it to be his past, and something that loitered around him. I think I can speak on behalf of women and say that every woman wants a man who just loves them and lusts after them. We didn’t want to have any baggage. We wanted the baggage to be history that came up in the movie. So, you see David in hopefully one of the best times of his life. Meeting this woman is an incredible thing for him, and only makes him want to strive to be a better man and change where he’s going in his life, and make him want to go to college.
Were you concerned about the movie portraying the curse of the really super attractive person not being able to get a date?
PETTYFER: By the way, that was one of the problems I had with signing onto the movie. I sat down with the studio and, excuse my language, said, “Whoever wouldn’t fucking go out with that girl is nuts! She is beautiful! How is she going to play someone that is awkward?” I know what you’re saying, but Gabriella does it to a T. She’s not like that. She’s a very beautiful woman. But in the movie and how she plays Jade, she’s awkward and shut off. People say, “How can someone that beautiful not have friends?” I certainly know that, if there was a beautiful woman standing there, I would have a hard time going up to her to talk to her.
PETTYFER: I was 18 years of age and I was at a party. I had just done a movie, and I didn’t know what it was like for someone to recognize you. She’s my friend now, and she’s a mother now, but she was 24 at the time, and I was 18. This tall brunette walked up to me and said, “Excuse me, are you Alex?” And, I was like, “Yeah.” And she was like, “I really thought you were good in the movie, and I wanted to come up and say hi.” I just couldn’t speak! I’m so terrible when it comes to talking to women. I’m the worst! I don’t know what to say. I come off very, very geeky.
What was it like working with Gabriella Wilde?
PETTYFER: Gabriella was amazing. She was actually a part of this movie before I was. Working with her was great. She’s very easy going. She’s English, and I’m English. There was a connection that we could build off of there. Shana set the atmosphere and the environment for us to become close and to become friends. It’s very hit-and-miss with that kind of stuff. But, I had a lovely time with her. Hopefully, it came across on screen.
How was it to do the kissing scenes together?
PETTYFER: It’s so awkward! We had a scene where we make love for the first time, and she’s very awkward because she’s never done it. You think these things are romantic and sensual. You come in, in your robe. It’s all quiet, and you take off your robe. You start to kiss Gabriella, and then you look to your right and there’s a big burly man standing there with a light over you going, “Just move to your right a little bit.” And you go, “Okay, this is not so romantic.” The nerves go away very fast.
PETTYFER: Yeah. People ask me, “Why do you love making films?,” and I always say, “Because I love film.” I hope that I can call myself a movie buff. And to work with Bruce Greenwood, and even Robert Patrick, is an incredible experience for someone like me, who is just starting out and hopefully will have longevity. To work with him and see his work ethic, and the way he approaches a scene, is mind-blowing to me. The guy picks up things that I don’t even notice. I could go on for days. There was a scene where we all sit down for dinner and he gives the telescope to Gabriella [Wilde] and he says, “I want the placemat set for my lost child. I want an empty seat there because my character would still set the table. He’s still in mourning.” And I wouldn’t ever think of that. In the original scene, which I don’t think made it into the movie, I go to sit down in that seat and he goes, “Don’t sit there.” That was something that he came up with. He adds layers to a scene. As a young actor, that’s amazing to walk away and go, “I would never have looked at something like that before.” Now, hopefully as I go on in my career, I can do the same, and really look at that kind of stuff.
Bruce Greenwood has a moment where his character asks your character if he wants Jade to see the real him, but the real him is somebody who punches a guy that’s being an asshole, and he’s really standing up for the women that he cares about. Don’t you feel like there should be more guys like that out there?
PETTYFER: It’s so hard, nowadays. I’m a hopeless romantic, I say very loudly and proudly. I get a lot of stick for it. We live in a world where it’s so accessible to date now, which is great. I don’t judge that. We have so many ways of meeting people. I like to meet someone and have that chivalry, to take them out on a date and actually be a gentleman. I think that’s becoming rarer and rarer. The experiences that I’ve had in my life, between my dad and my brother, all the men in my life have been gentleman and looked after women. I don’t know if we would go so far to say that we would punch someone in the face, but we would definitely stand up for our ladies. Sometimes it’s more attractive to use your words than your fists.
What do you remember about your first love?
PETTYFER: I think that first love defines you and your relationships, for the rest of your life. I had a great first love. My heart was ripped out of my chest, but I think that happens to everyone. When you fall in love for the first time, you’re naive to every feeling that you’re feeling, and you’re almost obsessed with or addicted to that person. Your life is consumed by them, and everything you want to do revolves around them. I think it’s great.
Do you still try to find that same emotion?
PETTYFER: I think your emotion changes from person to person. As you get older, a lot of people become cynical because of the experiences they have had and haven’t been able to let go of, whether they’ve been cheated on or whether it hasn’t worked out. It’s so easy to turn around right now and say, “Just let it go.” You may have good relationships and you may have bad. You just have to roll with it and truly believe, and not be cynical. But, it’s hard. You go through four relationships where you’re not happy and you’ve been cheated on, or whatever – and I’m not saying this has happened to me – but you have to still believe. That’s what upsets me the most, and why I wanted to make this movie is that I truly believe in love. Every relationship should start the way our relationship started with our first love, when we were 16, 17, or 18.
Do you have any advice for a guy dealing with a girl’s parents and trying to win them over?
PETTYFER: I don’t know. Thankfully, and I don’t know why, but I have never been in a situation where I haven’t gotten along with my girlfriend’s parents. I’ve been very lucky to have girlfriends who have had such amazing families that have brought me in. I’ve really actually grown with my girlfriends and the people that they’ve introduced me to. The way I’ve been welcomed in by their families, I’m a very, very, very lucky man.
What are you working on right now?
PETTYFER: I’m unemployed. I’m doing the unemployed thing. I’m auditioning.
Endless Love opens in theaters on February 14th.