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Interview with 'I Am Number Four' Star Alex Pettyfer

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Alex Pettyfer as Number Four in 'I Am Number Four'

Alex Pettyfer as Number Four in 'I Am Number Four'

© DreamWorks Pictures
British actor Alex Pettyfer stars as Number Four, one of nine aliens hiding out on earth following the destruction of their planet by their mortal enemies (the Mogadorians), in I Am Number Four. Accompanied by his friend/mentor Henri (Timothy Olyphant), Number Four moves around the US trying to keep one step ahead of the Mogadorians who have tracked the escapees to earth. After one narrow escape, Number Four (who changes his name to John Smith to blend in) and Henri wind up in small town in Ohio.

John's supposed to keep a low profile, but for the first time in his life he finds himself really connecting with a member of the opposite sex. Falling in love with Sarah (played by Dianna Agron), a pretty and popular student at his new school, puts John at risk as his alien powers are growing and he's next on the Mogadorians hit list (they have to kill each of the nine in order and Numbers One through Three are now dead). Complicating matters is a smart, geeky alien-obsessed student named Sam (Callan McAuliffe) who knows there's something different about John...

When Pettyfer sat down with a group of journalists to discuss I Am Number Four at the film's LA press day, his arm was covered in tattoos. Before getting into the nitty gritty of the making of the first film of what could possibly be a franchise for DreamWorks Pictures, Pettyfer explained the tattoos and how he's been trying to get rid of them.

Alex Pettyfer I Am Number Four Interview

Are the tattoos on your arm permanent?

Alex Pettyfer: "No, it isn'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, scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. I was like, 'Why is this thing not coming off?' And then as you see, I’ve tried to attack it again this morning."

What is it a tattoo of?

Alex Pettyfer: "It’s kind of tribal. It symbolizes everyone I killed."

They're from Now - can you say who you playing in that?

Alex Pettyfer: "I just play the leader of a gang. I’m just not a very nice man."

So you’re killing people because they can’t grow too old, right?

Alex 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. So when we hit 25, we only have a year to live. There's people that are millionairians and there's 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?

Alex Pettyfer: "Am I a sci-fi fan? 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, I think, he trying to find his destiny and trying to figure out who he is and his identity. And so I think that’s what was so compelling about the script, apart from D.J. [Caruso, the director] 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."

What did D.J. Caruso put you through physically on the set? 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 kind of phenomenal situations and sticks you plunk in the middle, and you kind of don’t really realize that you’re in a movie anymore. You go, 'Oh, sh-t! I better run for my life.'”

Did you get any injuries?

Alex 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."

John Smith is bonded forever supposedly with 'Sarah' [played by Dianna Agron] but he runs off with hot Number Six [Teresa Palmer]. Have you heard if anything might happen between Number Four and Number Six in the sequel?

Alex Pettyfer: [Laughing] "I think he should hit his head and get amnesia and just wake up with Six."

So you don't have any inkling of what's going to happen if there's a sequel?

Alex Pettyfer: "I will tell you a big secret. You’re the first to find out. Sam [Callan McAuliffe] ends up with Six. He gets out that little cafeteria knife, and oh yeah, oh yeah, oh yea. Two Aussies in one room, making love."

Are you ready for more of these films?

Alex 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."

Why was Teresa Palmer the only person you picked on during filming? We asked everyone else after she said you played a practical joke on her, and it seems she was your only target.

Alex Pettyfer: "She’s an Australian woman. [Laughing] I don’t know."

So there's this report on the internet that your mom and Channing Tatum's mom are best friends...

Alex Pettyfer: "Oh, wow. Do you know who is my best friend? Paul Newman. In my mind Paul Newman is my best friend. My best friend with Paul Newman is so true...so is the Channing Tatum thing. There's no connection [to Channing Tatum], sorry."

But your mom is a model?

Alex Pettyfer: "No, my mom is an interior decorator."

Where are all these stories on the internet coming from? So tell us the true story.

Alex Pettyfer: "In the beginning there were two people. [laughing]"

Your mom was never a model or TV presenter?

Alex Pettyfer: "I think she wishes. I think my dad wishes he was an actor. My dad is a builder and my mom is an interior decorator."

But you were a model?

Alex Pettyfer: "I did a gig for Burberry once and it was a great experience. But no, I'm not a model. I want to be a model, it's a lot easier than acting."

How did you get into acting?

Alex 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 was stuck with it. I had to do 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?"

How important is the music to this film?

Alex Pettyfer: "Is the music not amazing in this movie? It’s unreal. I watched the movie and I never realized how much music affects how you feel in that moment until I watched a D.J. Caruso movie."

Can you talk about the dog in I Am Number Four? Were there several of them?

Alex Pettyfer: "It was five dogs. The main dog was called Scout. He’s an amazing dog. I tried to steal him."

What do you hope people will take from this movie?

Alex Pettyfer: "Stand and fight for what you believe in."

It was reported Clint Culpepper at Screen Gems said that he doesn’t want to go ahead with the Mortal Instruments film unless you sign on for the male lead. What's it like for you to hear something like that? Are you close to signing on or is it something you're interested in?

Alex Pettyfer: "He said he won’t do it [without me]? When did he say that?"

In mid-January it was reported he said that. Is that something you want to do?

Alex Pettyfer: "I’m a big fan of the books and I’m just trying to figure out what I’m doing next."

* * * * * *

I Am Number Four< hits theaters on February 18, 2011.

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