Actress Dianna Agron is best known to audiences as Quinn, the cheerleader turned singer, on the hit Fox television series Glee, which recently received a Golden Globe Award, People’s Choice Award and an Emmy. Now, she is also hitting the big screen in the suspense thriller I Am Number Four, in which she plays Sarah, the once popular high school cheerleader whose passion for photography has turned her into something of an outcast. When Sarah meets John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), upon his arrival in the small Ohio town of Paradise, they have an immediate connection, even though she has no idea that he’s really one of nine aliens sent to Earth because of the destruction of his own planet.
At an interview during the film’s press day, Dianna Agron talked about how much fun she had stepping into a world so different from Glee, how she hopes viewers will receive the show’s big Superbowl episode, finding the chemistry with I Am Number Four co-star Alex Pettyfer, how she personally identifies with Sarah’s love for photography, and that she would love to return for a sequel, if there is a demand for it. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
DIANNA AGRON: It was wonderful. I found out very late in the process that I was going to be doing this movie, so from the time I was cast to the time I was on set, it was about three weeks. That was so fun because it was like, “Okay, let’s go!” I went straight from doing the Glee tour, which we finished in Radio City Music Hall, and then, that night I flew to Pittsburgh. It was a real chance to step into a different world. At that point, it was about two years from the pilot to then and, at the same time, of course, I missed all of them and my family. I was so happy to go back to being Quinn and seeing where she was going to go because nobody knew what was going to happen in the second season. We kept trying to pick Ryan Murphy’s brain, at the end of the first season, and he wouldn’t tell us things. Even if you are on a TV show like ours, and that’s most of your year, if you have the opportunity to stretch a different muscle, it can really invigorate that character again for you.
It seems like you and the rest of your cast are busier than probably any other cast on TV, with all of the publicity and touring that you guys do. How do you keep that energy level up to keep going?
AGRON: Well, sometimes you have to say now. Sometimes, some of the cast can go to certain events and things while others are filming. Sometimes you think, “Okay, if I do all these things this weekend that means I have no weekend at all, and then I have to go back to work on Monday.” You have to protect the integrity of the show, your health, the character and all those things. It’s just about finding the right moments for everything. If you’re too stressed or tired, you have to just back off for a little bit.
How are you hoping people will receive the Superbowl episode and your “Thriller” dance? Did you approach differently than the original performance?
AGRON: We did something completely different, which I thought was really nice because there have been re-creations of that dance before. It’s so iconic. Not that it would have been wrong, but our choreographer is so talented and came up with something so fun. We’re zombies with blood and Victorian hair. I’m wearing this big, red, vintage, tulled prom dress. It was an amazing experience because we were outside. It was cold, but we were doing this dance, so we were hot. It was awesome. We could have done that forever. The dance was so fun. I’m a big costume lover, so anytime I get to do something like Rocky Horror or this, those are my favorite moments. And, the whole episode is big. It has really big dance numbers, pyro, zombies, fog and a lot of Jane Lynch, which is always good.
AGRON: Well, I was really pleasantly surprised to find out that he was so excited and so dedicated to this film. He was in training for months to do the stunts, which turned out incredibly. And, he just has an enthusiasm to him, which is nice. That’s what I experience with the cast of Glee. Everybody’s there and having a good time, but working really hard and, when you work really hard, and it’s organic and together, you can have more fun. That’s how this cast and crew was. There was crazy weather in Pittsburgh, during the summer. There was such extreme, torrential rain, and then sunshine, and then rain again, 10 minutes later. We were in a field and there was just mud everywhere. It was great that, at the end of the process, you were sad to leave and just really had a good time.
As actors, how did you make sure that the chemistry between you and Alex worked?
AGRON: Well, you act. If that person and you are on the same page, and are showing up and doing the work, then it’s great. Those scenes can be technical because, oftentimes, the camera is very close and the lighting has to be just so. But, it’s different for every actor. Sometimes, you can incorporate things that you’ve experienced in your life and use that. And, other times, you just know what that feeling of hurt, love, anger and depression is, and you do whatever it takes to get there in your mind, and use it to your advantage, whichever way it works best.
Were you anything like Sarah when you were in high school?
AGRON: I was never a cheerleader. I was a dancer, so that was my out-of-school experience. And then, in school, I was a part of the yearbook staff and I found a love for photography, like Sarah. It’s a very strong one, that continues to this day. And, there were certain qualities that I wanted to bring to her that I thought were so obvious, at least to me, when I read it. She has this wanderlust. She has aspirations to travel and see the world. And, she has a bit of an old soul quality to her. At the same time, you’re on dangerous ground, if too many things are like yourself, especially if all of her tendencies are the same as yours, her voice is the same as yours, and her clothes are the same as yours. You’re like, “Wait a second!”
So, they didn’t have to tell you how to use a camera then?
AGRON: No. It was funny because there’s the scene in the camera shop where I’m holding this beautiful Hasselblad camera, that’s actually our prop master’s camera, and I said to D.J., “Sarah is not buying this camera right? How much has she babysat to afford this camera?” He said, “No, no, it’s her goal camera and she just comes to visit it once a week.”
AGRON: I do both. I have equal parts film and digital cameras, in my collection. I think that there are ways to Photoshop photos so that they look like you shot them on film, but is that as rewarding? It just depends on the person. If I’m traveling, I’ll take a film camera and a digital camera because sometimes there are moments where, if you’ve lost it, or if coming back and it accidentally goes through the X-ray machine and it gets overexposed, you might have had a really important moment to you and you would be really upset that you didn’t have a back-up. In high school, I learned with film and I remember how excited I would be to turn it in. There’s something really rewarding about that.
Had you ever acted opposite something that wasn’t there before? How difficult was that for you? Did they describe what it was supposed to be for you?
AGRON: They did describe what was there for us, and it would go to the tune of, “Well, he’s about to the ceiling, coming through this window really fast, and you need to get over there.” There was a certain challenge to it, but at the same time, you think, “Okay, let me think of a time that I’ve been really scared,” and you try to use that. And then, when you see the final product, it’s just amazing, with the effects and what they’ve accomplished, especially in such a short time. Normally, post-production for a movie like this would take twice as long, but they knew they wanted it to come out sooner rather than later. I’m just really impressed and, hopefully, my reactions seem appropriate.
AGRON: Of course, yeah. In the beginning of my career, people would say to me, “You can’t read for the mean girl character because that’s just not how we see you.” And, I would say, “But, it’s acting. I’m an actor.” It happened accidentally. I was going in for the nice girl character on Heroes and one of the producers said, “No, that’s not so interesting. I want you to read this character.” That’s what I was cast as, and I think that helped open a lot of people’s eyes to me, as an actor, because that character was quite different. And then, even more so with Quinn. She started off a mean girl on Glee, and then she became pregnant and humanized and moved away from that side of her. But, it can be hard for people. The more characters you play, the more opportunity you’re given to expand that.
Do you have any plans for your hiatus, after this season is done?
AGRON: I’m not sure. My back-up plan is always to take a trip. That’s never a bad option. That’s always a good option. So, it’s definitely going to be something good, whether it’s working on a project, or whether it’s just taking my camera and going somewhere. I’ve vowed that, this summer, it’ll be somewhere in Asia because I’ve done a lot of Europe and Australia. I feel as if I go to Africa, I may never come back. I’m just going to live with the animals and adopt an elephant, and it’s going to be my friend.
Have they talked to you about a sequel for this? Do you know if your character would come back?
AGRON: Well, the character is in the second book. I know what happen, but I probably shouldn’t say. But, there’s no way they could get it together for this summer. They just finished the first draft of the second book, and I think they want to wait and see how it takes off and resonates with people. So, unless they were miracle workers, I don’t foresee doing that as a summer film.
But, you’d want to come back, if they do another film?
AGRON: I had so much fun in this one, so of course, yeah.