English actor Alex Pettyfer seems destined to be a dashing leading man. He made his screen debut in 2005 in the title role of ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays.’ Since then, he’s fronted the spy adventure ‘Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker,’ the Michael Bay sci-fi drama ‘I Am Number Four’ and the modern-day ‘Beauty and the Beast’ adaptation ‘Beastly.’ He strutted his stuff alongside Channing Tatum in the critically heralded ‘Magic Mike,’ then joined the star-stuffed ensemble of ‘Lee Daniels’ The Butler.’ Now he’s back in theaters looking to make us swoon once more with ‘Endless Love.’
We had the opportunity to speak with Pettyfer about his latest role, and what it’s like being in the spotlight.
So, ‘Endless Love’ is a remake of the 1981 Franco Zeffirelli drama. Have you ever seen the original?
Yes, I have. The original is very different from our movie. I mean, it was a different time back then. I think because it was set in the ’80s the subject matter was quite controversial whereas ours is very light-hearted. It’s a much simpler movie.
While the core story of star-crossed teen lovers is the same, a lot of the details have shifted in this remake. Do you want to talk about how your characters are different from the ones we saw Martin Hewitt and Brooke Shields play?
Um, yeah! I guess the characters are different in the sense that the first movie was more focused on the lust between two people, whereas ours is basically more about two people who fall in love and the hurdles that they have to overcome to actually be together.
Were you at all intimidated to take on a remake?
No, no. Because when I read the script — and then I went back and researched the book and I researched previous movie — this movie is so different, that I knew that it was really only the title we were using, and the names of the characters.
What was the biggest challenge you faced making ‘Endless Love’? (I just realized how that sounds.)
I know! [Laughs.] The biggest challenge I faced making ‘Endless Love’? [Laughs more.] Nothing a blue pill won’t help! No, I’m joking. Sorry, that’s my dark humor coming in. I guess, playing an 18-year-old and going back to that headspace of a young man and that naiveté.
Did you and your ‘Endless Love’ co-star Gabriella Wilde audition together at all while you were vying for the role of David?
No. She actually had the movie before me. She was attached to the movie before I was; I came on after her.
So when did the two of you meet?
We met for the first time in rehearsal, which was scary. But I think because Shana [Feste, the film’s co-writer and director] set the environment for us to be very comfortable with one another. I think a lot relationships need to be built off trust, and Shana really set the atmosphere for us to learn to trust each other and to go into this movie together, as a team.
What was it like shooting ‘Endless Love’s’ love scene?
You think that they would be very easy, but they’re hard. It’s very mechanical. You know, you get into something. You start to feel a certain way, and then you look to the right of you and there’s like 12 burly men standing over you with lights and cameras and such.
Did you have any discussions during the filmmaking about what is and is not allowed within a PG-13 rating?
No. I think that we just wanted the energy between the two people to [be] more above the sexual thing, more than the actual physical [aspect].
What was it like working with Gabriella?
Grabriella is so easy [to work with]. Because she’s English, I think we have a connection that way. Yeah, she’s such a sweetheart. She’s just a lovely, lovely woman.
Well, speaking of being English — you actually get to use your accent a bit in this movie.
I do! Yeah, before the party scene.
Was that your idea, or how did that come about?
Shana just wanted a different accent because I’m calling the police. And I just said, “I guess, why don’t I just do a shout out to England?” Easy. And she said, “Sure.”
Were there any takes where you tried any other accent, or was it always an English accent?
I tried one in South African, because my manager’s South African.
Being as good looking as you are, working as a model and an actor, is that at all something you’ve had to fight against in typecasting?
I actually was an actor before I was a model. I did ‘Tom Brown’s Schooldays.’ That was the first in-front-of-camera thing I ever did. Then I did a couple of more movies. Then I was asked to do Burberry. But Burberry was the only modeling I really did, except for press [photos] for movies.
Do you feel like your looks are an advantage or do you feel they hold you back at all in the acting industry?
Well, I did a movie with a shaved head and prosthetics, so…
‘Beastly,’ yeah. Was that to break from some kind of niche…
I’ve never really had to think about that. I’m not very self-aware.
I see. So, your father’s an actor too, right?
He was when he was younger, yeah. He was on the West End.
Has he given you any pointers about this profession?
Uh, no. He’s just very proud of me, proud of what I’m doing.
I had heard you turned down Zac Efron‘s role in ‘The Paperboy.’ Is that true?
No, I didn’t turn it down. I was just already attached to ‘Magic Mike.’
So it was a scheduling conflict?
Then you got to work with Lee Daniels in ‘The Butler.’
Yeah, he’s an amazing supporter of mine, and I love Lee so much.
What else do you have coming up?
Nothing at the moment. I’m just trying to put together a few films. My manager and me are looking at each other, trying to figure that one out. Hopefully it will be something good.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done to impress a girl?
Craziest thing I’ve ever done? I think going on a plane at 18 on my own — I don’t like flying — to go see her. That doesn’t sound crazy, but when you have a phobia — it’s crazy for me
How long was the flight?
Oh, wow! That’s pretty impressive with or without a phobia. One last question: There’s a recurring discussion about deal-breakers in the movie. What’s a deal-breaker for you in a relationship?
I think it’s a deal-breaker for everyone: cheating.
So very similar to David in the movie?
Yeah, yeah I’d agree with that. David and me have very similar morals.