I Am Number Four is a suspense thriller about an extraordinary young man who is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Hiding out in the small town of Paradise, Ohio, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is the fourth of nine alien teenagers who escaped the destruction of their home planet, only to be hunted on Earth by a species determined to see their total obliteration. Protected by his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John makes friends with local teen Sam (Callan McAuliffe), who seems to have an inexplicable connection to the aliens, and falls in love for the first time with Sarah (Dianna Agron), a former cheerleader turned outcast, all while discovering how to use his powerful new abilities.
While at the press day to promote the film, which is based on the best-selling book by Pittacus Lore (a pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes), British actor Alex Pettyfer talked about all the training he had to do for this role, what he’d like to see happen in the sequel, his desire to do another of these films, and what he hopes teens will take away from it. He also talked about his upcoming role as an assassin in the sci-fi thriller Now, opposite Justin Timberlake, and his dream to play race car driver James Hunt, in a film about his life. Check out what he had to say after the jump:
Question: What did you go through physically for this? How much did you have to do?
ALEX PETTYFER: I did everything, and I did two months training beforehand. D.J. is a very hands-on director and is literally by your side, every minute. He creates these phenomenal sets and phenomenal situations and sticks you plunk in the middle, and you don’t really realize that you’re in a movie anymore. You go, “Oh, shit! I better run for my life.”
Did you get any injuries?
PETTYFER: I didn’t because we had a phenomenal stunt team. Brad Allan choreographed everything so well. He’s a zen genius. We had great people around us. I think the third act in the last 45 minutes of the movie is all down to D.J. creating this amazing world.
What was it like to work with the dog? Were there several of them?
PETTYFER: It was five dogs. The main dog was called Scout. He’s an amazing dog. I tried to steal him.
John Smith is bonded forever with Sarah (Dianna Agron), but he runs off with Number 6 (Teresa Palmer). Have you heard if anything might happen between them for the sequel?
PETTYFER: I think he should hit his head and get amnesia, and just wake up with 6.
You have no idea what would happen in the sequel then?
PETTYFER: I will tell you a big secret. You’re the first to find out. Sam (Callan McAuliffe) ends up with 6. He gets out that little cafeteria knife, and it’s two Aussies in one room, making love.
Are you ready for more of these films?
PETTYFER: Yeah. Hopefully, people will enjoy the movie as much as we enjoyed making it and, hopefully, we will get an opportunity to make a second one.
What do you hope teens will take from this movie?
PETTYFER: Stand and fight for what you believe in.
Are all the tattoos permanent, that you have on your arm?
PETTYFER: No, they aren’t. It was for a movie I finished two days ago, and I apologize for not taking it off. I was in the shower yesterday morning, before I did press, trying to scrub it off and going, “Why is this thing not coming off?” And, I’ve tried to attack it again this morning.
What is the tattoo of?
PETTYFER: It’s kind of tribal. It symbolizes everyone my character has killed.
Is that for Now?
Who are you playing in that?
PETTYFER: I play the leader of a gang. He’s just not a very nice man.
And, you’re killing people because they can’t grow too old?
PETTYFER: Yeah, we stop at the age of 25. There’s no such thing as money. Currency is time. When we’re 25, we’ve all got clocks on our arms and we buy and sell things with time, and time is always ticking down for us. When we hit 25, we only have a year to live. There are people that are millionairians and there are people who live by 23 hours. It’s a very original script, and I’m very, very proud to be a part of it.
Are you a sci-fi fan?
PETTYFER: I don’t categorize movies, which is weird. I just look for great stories. I Am Number Four is a great story about a guy who’s trying to find his destiny and figure out who he is and his identity. That’s what was so compelling about the script, apart from (director) D.J. [Caruso] as well. I don’t really look for a script and go, “I need to do a thriller, so I’m going to do this.” I just read scripts and look for the best possible story.
How did you get into acting?
PETTYFER: I was at school. I had a big crush on a girl and I joined the media class because she was in it. I realized that I was two years younger than her and I wasn’t in the same class as her, and I was stuck with it. I went on this school trip, and I didn’t really care about acting or about media. I wanted to be a racing driver. I went to go to the toilet and walked into this auditioning room where Stephen Fry was, and he must have taken a fancy. Him and the producer stuck me in this small TV movie, called Tom Brown’s Schooldays, which was a great experience. I loved every second and realized that, as long as this journey was going to go forward, I was going to go with it ‘cause who doesn’t like playing dress up?
Were you a model prior to being an actor?
PETTYFER: I did a modeling gig for Burberry once, and it was a great experience, but no I am not a model. I want to be a model because it’s a lot easier than acting.
Is your love for race car driving why you’re going to play James Hunt, in the film adaptation of Tom Rubython’s book Shunt: The Story of James Hunt?
PETTYFER: Yeah. I love the story of James Hunt. It’s something very gritty and is a great story about a man who was very charismatic, but independently financed himself to make sure that he was going to live his dream. He was going to become world champion and no one was going to stop him, but unfortunately, no one gave him any money. He was an international playboy and there was this lovely, romantic story in there where he fell in love once, like John does in I Am Number Four – which I’m trying to promote at the same time – and she broke his heart and ran off with Richard Burton. It’s a very heart-wrenching story, but a story that I’ve loved. And, I wasn’t a model, but when I was about 12 years of age, the year before I did Tom Brown’s Schooldays, no one knows this, but I played James Hunt in a documentary, when they did flashbacks. I didn’t have any agent and I didn’t do anything, but my mom just wanted to see if it would be something. She took me to tennis lessons and swimming lessons and just thought this might be something that I would be interested in. So, I played James Hunt once before. Hopefully, in the next year or two, I will play James Hunt.
What will the film be called?
PETTYFER: It doesn’t have a title yet.
And, you’re producing it, too?
PETTYFER: Yeah, I’m producing it with John Palermo.