Eye Candy :: Alex Pettyfer - hot, talented... and difficult?

by Robert Nesti
EDGE National Arts & Entertainment Editor
Tuesday Feb 15, 2011

With a number of films scheduled for release in the upcoming weeks, British actor Alex Pettyfer is poised to become the screen's latest hottie. This Friday the not-yet-21-year old plays the title character in I Am Number Four, the screen adaptation of the popular young adult sci-fi story about a group of alien teens living on Earth being hunt down by another group of aliens.

Then next month he appears in Beastly, a retelling of the Beauty and the Beast story in contemporary New York from the novel by Alex Finn. Then later in the year he's appearing in Now, the new sci-fi drama from writer/director Andrew Niccol (best-known for Gattaca) with Justin Timberlake, Amanda Seyfried and Cillian Murphy.

Pettyfer, who came to Hollywood after making a number of teen movies in England, nearly didn't get the I Am Number Four role. When he went for his audition - in front of director DJ Caruso (Eagle Eye, Disturbia) and producers Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg - he panicked and walked away from his screen test. 'I'm not right for your movie. I'm going to ruin your movie. I'm the wrong guy,' Caruso told the press recently about his first meeting with the young actor.

That turned out to be the right thing to say. Caruso continued: "And he was very polite about it. But right away I was like, 'That's exactly the quality I want to have in Number Four.' I want to have a guy who's doubting whether he can pull this off and doesn't want to do it and ultimately figures out who he is by the end ... I love that he can look like this (heartthrob) and have that vulnerability; that's like a filmmakers dream."

Difficult and demanding?

It is evident, then, that the hunky, blond, blue-eyed actor certainly turns heads, but is also, if a report in last week’s Hollywood Reporter is to be believed, is turning off some in Hollywood for being difficult and demanding.

"According to several sources close to Number Four," the Reporter story reads, "tensions between Pettyfer, 20, and director D.J. Caruso ran so high last summer on the Pennsylvania set that DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider was forced to intervene. (DreamWorks and Pettyfer’s reps declined comment.)"

Insiders on that film’s set, the story continued, said that when Pettyfer learned that a fellow actor was making more than he was (his salary was $250,000), he demanded his salary be renegotiated. DreamWorks, the studio producing the film, refused. This led "Pettyfer to go into protest mode. As recently as December, he had not cashed a single check for his Number Four work."

He subsequently cashed the checks and changed agents.

The Reporter continued: "His difficult behavior continued on the set of Beastly, the CBS romance set for release next month. "In mid-January, Pettyfer failed to show up for a scheduled marketing meeting at the studio, leaving CEO Amy Baer and her team waiting for two hours. (A CBS Films rep says Pettyfer called to explain he was having car trouble.)

Star-making roles?

"Headstrong young actors are nothing new in Hollywood," the Reporter continued. "And Pettyfer’s charismatic performances in Number Four, Beastly and the October sci-fi thriller Now are said to be of star-making quality. But during recent weeks, Pettyfer has been courted for two projects -- Mortal Instruments at Screen Gems and The Last Apprentice at Legendary -- and the actor’s behavior has left some scratching their heads. A meeting at Screen Gems ended abruptly when Pettyfer and his team asked for close to $10 million, drawing outrage from studio topper Clint Culpepper, according to sources. (Screen Gems insiders insist talks with Pettyfer are ongoing.)

"’Pick your words: ambitious, hungry, cocky, very ahead of himself,’ says a producer who has worked with him. ’But if he delivers, he’ll be worth it.’"

But perhaps rumors of his bad behavior have been exaggerated. He was said to have smoothed things over with DreamWorks (who is developing the racing drama Shunt, a bio of driver James Hunt, for him) and is criss-crossing the country doing heavy promotion for the film.

Even his current girlfriend Dianna Agron (from Glee) got in on the topic, as reported in US Magazine: "Alex might see himself as a bad boy, but he’s actually very sweet in real life." (The pair met on the set of I Am Number Four.)

Being a heartthrob

Whatever may have been going on behind the scenes on I Am Number Four, he has been anything but supportive of the film and its production team. "I’m really happy doing this movie," he told the website Collidor.com last October. "Not many kids at 20-years of age can turn around and say, ’our producers are Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay.’

"DJ is an amazing director, I’ve got the utmost respect for the man. Not only is it weird to have respect for someone as an onlooker and a fan, but also to work with them... When you’re a fan of someone’s work and you get the privilege to work with them it’s really cool. You guys are onset on one of the coolest days, we get to blow up shit, run around, disappear and fight. It’s not gonna be a boring day today."

One thing he is reluctant to talk about is his relationship with Agron. "Am I currently in love?," he said in an interview repeating the question from a reporter from the QMI Agency. "Well, I’m here to talk about the movie. If my story wasn’t read about (in your paper), I would tell you mine."

As for being a heartthrob, Pettyfer said "People put you in a category, that if you could put your own self in, then I wouldn’t choose to be a heartthrob, but I don’t think that you can ever decide what you are going to be."

Future plans?

As for his future plans? They appear to be in flux, as this report from the website CinemaBlend.com attests:

"Alex Pettyfer has been making shortlists and snagging big upcoming roles for over a year now, even though no one has seen him in either of his major starring roles, the romantic drama Beastly (pushed from release last summer to this spring) and the sci-fi action film I Am Number Four, which opens February 18. And now that’s finally ready to woo American audiences, he’s making a slight tweak in his future plans. We reported not even two weeks ago that he was being considered to star in The Mortal Instruments an adaptation an adaptation of Cassandra Clare’s series of young adult novels. Now Vulture reports that he’s backing away in order to take on The Last Apprentice, another young-adult novel adaptation happening over at Warner Bros.

"Not only that, but Warner Bros. has also got the likes of Jeff Bridges and Jennifer Lawrence interested in the projects-- Bridges would play the exorcist for whom Pettyfer’s character is the titular apprentice, and Lawrence a suspected witch. The story takes place in the 1700s, with Pettfyer’s character Tom Ward a boy who can see and hear ghosts and smell the presence of death. The deal for Pettyfer to star in The Mortal Instruments is still on the table but Vulture is confident he won’t take it-- and who can blame him, with the opportunity to star opposite two of this year’s Oscar nominees in front of him instead. I still have no idea if having Pettyfer in a movie is a good thing or a bad thing-- I’ll learn more when I see I Am Number Four this week-- but it’s abundantly clear that he’s very much in-demand."

Robert Nesti can be reached at rnesti@edgemedianetwork.com.


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