Sunday, February 20, 2011

My Alex Pettyfer and Diana Agron story...

Is Alex Pettyfer the next Shia LaBeouf?
By Raymond de Asis Lo, L.A. Correspondent (The Philippine Star) Updated February 21, 2011 12:00 AM 

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Alex is John Smith, a teen fugitive who is on the run from powerful enemies sent to destroy him in I am Number Four.| Zoom
L.A. CALIF — A potential action franchise starter is set to ignite the global box-office when DreamWorks Studios releases its latest suspense thriller I Am Number Four in theaters this month. The sci-fi movie is from D.J. Caruso, the director who transformed Shia LaBeouf from being a virtual unknown to a Hollywood superstar in only two movies.

This time, D.J. is introducing the world to handsome newcomer Alex Pettyfer, who leads the cast of promising new actors that include talented Australians Teresa Palmer and Callan McAullife. Also in the cast is Alex’s rumored girlfriend and popular star from TV’s Glee, Diana Agron.

No, Alex and Diana did not directly confirm nor deny their relationship during the junket for the movie in January. When a lady journalist asked if it was love at first sight on the set for him and Diana, the actor only laughed loud and said: “You’re very funny. Thank you.” Diana was mum as well. (Days after our interview, the couple was photographed together while holding hands on Sunset Blvd.)

But tabloid headlines and engagement rumors aside, the movie marks a major breakthrough for the young British upstart who got the part despite walking out of his first audition because he was worried he wasn’t fit for the part. The story was initially reported in a Vanity Fair feature and Alex confirmed it with The Philippine Star at the junket.
“I did, but I tried to do it in the nicest way,” confirmed Alex. “I just didn’t think that I could bring anything to the movie and I didn’t want to disappoint D.J. so I walked away.” It was only a brief hesitation on his part because he quickly realized he was “missing an incredible opportunity.”

It wasn’t the pressure of carrying a movie produced by box-office maestros Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay that prompted the actor to initially decline the part either. There was something in the lead character that intimidated him. “I play a reluctant hero and John (his character’s name) is very vulnerable and he finds it difficult — he was always trying to find his identity and I don’t think I was thinking of playing it like that at the time,” he confided.

He added: “But every actor looks for a challenge so I went back and me and D.J. spoke about how we wanted the movie to go and how we wanted John to go and it, kind of, just clicked together.”

“I feel that Alex has a special gift,” director D.J. said in praise of Alex. “He has an incredible vulnerability that really works for the character. I think it will make audiences fall in love with him.”

So is Alex the director’s new Shia LaBeouf?

“Damn dude, I better f----- be!” Alex immediately replied, teasing the director who was seated next to him.

“I think he is very similar,” D.J. responded. “When I was directing Shia, he just turned 19 and Alex was also 19 when we met. Yeah, heck yeah! I hope so.”

“I am like the godfather,” the director continued, half-jokingly. “I get these children prepared for the world and I send them off.”

I Am Number Four tells the story of John Smith (Alex’s character), a teen fugitive who is on the run from powerful enemies sent to destroy him. He has a guardian who protects him by concealing his identity and moving him from town to town, school to school. Eventually John must confront what really is the reason why this army of assassins is tracking him down and wanting him dead.

As Alex indicated, it was the character’s sense of vulnerability that both attracted and scared him of the part initially. “We’ve all been in that scenario where we feel like we are alone or we are different,” he stated.

Alex began his career in 2005 on British TV. He did a couple of movies when he was 15 but never had much success until last year when he was cast in two high-profile movies: Beastly, a modern re-telling of the classic tale Beauty and the Beast opposite Vanessa Hudgens and I Am Number Four.

The actor has a presence about him that, to an unfamiliar observer, would be misinterpreted as arrogance. This writer had that wrong impression in the beginning. But as the interview progressed and Alex started to loosen up, he became less nervous, less evasive and more open.

There are numerous Internet accounts of how he really started his career and the young star decided to set the record straight: “I never modeled all my life,” he said, contradicting the web chatter that he did a Gap campaign when he was seven. “I did one modeling campaign and it was a good experience. It was for Burberry and it was a lot of fun. Life is all about experiences and that was definitely a different one for me — one that I would definitely revisit if I had the opportunity.”

He did not acknowledge the semi-nude pictures he did for a coffeetable book, though, nor would he give away any clue to his and Diana’s relationship that was supposed to have blossomed on the set.

“Diana is like this old school movie star quality. I had an amazing time working with her,” was all he would allow himself to describe Diana.

In the movie, Diana portrays Sarah, Alex’s love interest who unwittingly gets caught in the middle of the conflict between John and his pursuers.

In contrast to her leading man, Diana proved to be more “friendly” and gave more hints about their relationship – how she almost didn’t get to meet him at all – during our separate interview with her.

Diana recalled how Steven Spielberg approached her early last year during a charity event if she wanted to do the movie. “I have this project called I Am Number Four,” she remembered Steven telling her. “You would be perfect for the role of Sarah but we are gonna film it in the fall and most likely you’d be back to Glee so it was really great meeting you and congratulations with the show… and you’re wonderful.”

She remained standing, nearly motionless after Spielberg left and couldn’t believe what just happened to her. Lucky for her the shoot was moved earlier in the summer and she was able to do the movie.

Her first meeting with Alex was supposed to be for a chemistry reading with the director who did not show up that day. “In some ways I think he set us up,” she said in a slight declaration that he and Alex are indeed together.

Diana and Alex shared a kiss in the movie and it was a kiss that felt real to her. “I always say that if you are enjoying that, then you are probably acting as yourself and not the character,” she said beaming.

I Am Number Four opens Feb. 23 in theaters.

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