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INT: Alex Pettyfer

10.13.2006

At age sixteen, Alex Pettyfer’s resume includes only two credits. That would be TOM BROWN’S SCHOOLDAYS and ALEX RIDER: OPERATION STORMBREAKER. But I have a feeling it will be filling up very soon because the dude’s got talent. In STORMBREAKER, he plays the title role of Alex Rider who becomes a junior spy trained in martial arts and a few other Bond type skills. He takes on the role with a surprising amount of maturity.

I had a chance to meet with Alex when he stopped by The Four Seasons in Beverly Hills . He came in and shook everyone’s hand which is a rarity for anyone. He is articulate, polite and quite funny and he seems like your typical teenager in many ways, yet a tad bit more mature. If he plays his cards right, he may very well be the next Orlando Bloom.

Alex Pettyfer

So Alex, we’re you a big fan of these books? Did you know the character and everything?

Yes, I did. I read the books two months previous, getting the script in. I was nervous about reading the script, obviously bringing a character out of the book and into… on-screen as they say. It was obviously quite a nerve racking thing to do.

You hadn’t read them as a fan?

No, no, no. I just picked it up just to read in detention. [Laughter]

Did you read all of them?

Oh, yes. I was in detention many hours. [Laughter] No. I only read Stormbreaker and Point Blank.

What did you have to do to physically get ready for this role?

I… obviously when I was going through the audition process I started going to the gym because if I was lucky enough to get the part, which I was - Alex Rider’s quite a muscular, bigger guy. And yes, I have lost it now, so no comments. [Laughter] Yeah, so I wanted to train up obviously and get prepared for the role and also when I got the role, thank God, I went into training for three weeks [to do] martial arts, kung fu, kickboxing. Learning how to “wheelie” on a four ton quad bike or whatever. It was quite an experience.

Any accidents doing that?

Uh, no, but I did have my knee accidentally ah… when I was doing the martial arts, I was actually training with a lovely woman called Eunice [Huthart] who was Angelina Jolie’s stuntwoman and I thought she wasn’t as tough as she was and went in for a move and [gestures towards knee making a smacking sound] on the knee which actually figured out, probably karma, well not karma, but a good omen because I went to my (physician) who used to be an ex-SES guy and I created a bit of the character. I took a piece from; not an arm or a leg [Laughter], just a piece from him towards Alex Rider.

Did you talk to Anthony [Horowitz] at all about the character a lot and what he expected?

Yeah, no, no, no, I talked to him for about three hours; it must have been three hours. We sat down on a sofa and I was just talking to him because I hadn’t read all the books so I had to skip school, out of detention so I didn’t have time to go back. Yeah, so I talked to him for like three or four hours; got some information.

So what did you do to get put in detention?

Nah, I was only joking around. [Laughing] Just to make you laugh.

So were you a James Bond fan?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, I was a big fan of them; I’m looking forward to the new one as well [Casino Royale].

Who’s your favorite James Bond?

Ah, well seeing that Alex Rider’s created on the basis of James Bond, I’d have to say Alex Rider… but my favorite James Bond is, I’m obviously looking forward to Dan Craig, but Pierce Brosnan.

How much of your stunts did you do, including the fighting, the martial arts or rope fighting?

I did all of them but Don Yen [Stunt Choreographer] brought his team cuz they decided two days before to change the choreography to rope fighting, also I thought that it would be good input that Alex Rider isn’t an aggressive character, he’d rather run and there is no political message in Stormbreaker, it’s just that one scene I thought he would run, show a good example that instead of standing there fighting, being the big guy, there is always an easy way out and I thought that instead of being physical and using his hands and legs as weapons, he could be as far away as possible from the problem. So they were going to take over and do this stunt and I watched them one day and I said, "Give me one day." And it's one day before the actual shoot. "Give me one day to train and I'll do it. And I don't care, even if I look [like] crap because he's just picking up this thing from out of nowhere." And I did it in one day and, you know, I actually got quite good you know, I spent a couple of hours; I think it was eight hours actually training in that one day. They allowed me to do it.

What was something in the books that you wanted to bring out in the character?

Ah, you know… like I say all the time you know, a book’s like a door you go into the imaginative world or a kid and I always see that kid's see themselves as characters so I really wanted to portray him as a normal guy you know. There are people that… he's not a super hero or he's not someone who can fly, it's out of which that you could be. Children wanna come out of the cinema and wanna be a character until they come see the next film, but I want people to come out and believe that they could be that someone. And that's what I really took from the book, you know just being normal and people can relate to this guy.

We heard that the premier was a big deal in England, what's that like with the big success that you've had already?

Ah, I've only done one TV drama, it was only shown once. I've only been on telly once probably about an hour, two hours. I really didn't expect anything. I got out of the car and it was like – obviously I had shaved my head from prior doing the film, just to change my image – I got out and I, my biggest fear is that there might be five, six kids there just before I walk in and do my press and I get out of the car, it's probably about three seconds, like three-thousand girls [Laughter] and they're like [he mimics a crowd screaming], so it was quite a big shock, you know. Especially as, I've never done any big feature films or even anything big prior to Stormbreaker.

Can you talk about Mickey Rourke when you first met him, how did it go?

He's fantastic, you know, I always give everyone a clean slate before I meet them. For someone… first of all, he’s a gentleman, he gave me a hundred and ten percent on camera and off. I really don't have any more words than respect for [him]. He really helped me…

What's your favorite Mickey Rourke film?

Illegally, Nine and a Half Weeks [Laughter]. Yeah, but I did enjoy Sin City as well. It's a re-birth of who he was.

Can you talk about some of the stunt work that you did, like being on bikes, horses and such?

Funny enough you bring up horse riding. You know I've never actually… I think I've had one horse riding lesson and fell off and said I'm not getting on one. But Alex Rider can't horse ride, it's the only thing he can't do. You know, no one's invincible so Anthony [Horowitz] created that and we were very against that horse riding scene because of that one thing. But to bring out that, that… it was sort of fantastic to watch. We got the Queen’s cavalry, we got Hyde Park free, through Leicester Square and all that kind of stuff or wherever we were.

You know, I was really reluctant to go on that horse as becoming the character, I did it and I sat on and held on for my life behind the stuntwoman and also Sabina, uh, Sarah [Bolger] was there on a couple occasions. So it was quite something else you know, you get the same feeling and fear as your character which was good and obviously came across on screen. And the bike scene, I think a kid was asking me, “Did you really do that or was [it] blue screen or something like that?” and I said no, no it’s like ballet where you need perfect timing. If I had gone accidentally like that [gestures move], I would have been run over. So it was all choreographed, [certain] split second and they were really anti me doing it along Chelsea Bridge, which, also another location that we got lucky [enough], but I did do it and I enjoyed it very much.

Did you ride a bike as a kid; is it just natural for you?

Yeah, you know I can’t like pop wheelies but I learned but I learned how to do them when I was on there, do stoppies and skid along. So I was always eager to learn new things you know, you go on the set and you know, I could never work again after this, this could all go POOF [Laughing], so I wanted to learn everything I could as possible.

Are you hoping for a sequel?

We’re going to wait until October the Sixth and see how it all goes.

Have they discussed it with you at all?

No.

How did your friends react to your role in this movie?

You know my friends just act normal you know, I’m just Alex, not Alex Rider but just Alex [Laughing]. I don’t even think they even watched it.

They didn’t come to the premiere?

Ah, one of them did, yes.

What’s your favorite scene basically and why?

Ah, promotionally my favorite scene is the quad bike scene [Laughing]. My favorite scene is with Mickey [Rourke], you know, I think it’s…

At the dinner table?

Yeah, I think I give so much… we both make so much energy in that one scene – so much charisma and life towards it – obviously because he helped me a great deal and you know he gave me so much energy towards him, so I really love that scene.

Do you feel any added responsibility because all the kids love this character, so was it tougher for you to bring him to life, knowing that everybody knows who this guy because they read these books?

Yeah, as I said last time you know, he’s a kids imagination or, a kid per se, you know, kid’s think they are him so I did feel a little bit of pressure maybe on the looks side of things. I knew that I had to get – if I got the correct… how he was inside, I think it would have came out in the looks. So I think it was more the looks that I was worried about.

What’s next for you?

Ah, I’m just focusing on publicizing this and you know… who knows.

Getting back to the friends thing real quick, you guys familiar at all with the show Entourage and are there any like rumblings, like do your friends ever try and get you to hook them up with chicks or go out… [Laughing]

Ah… Um… Ah… [Laughing]

Do you see Entourage?

No, I haven’t seen it.

Is there any actor or star that you’d love to work with, that you admire?

Um, Robert Downey Jr.

Oh, bad. [Laughing]

Yeah, he’s a great actor.

He is.

You know, even though I never understand this. I don’t know why people give a crap about his personal life; you should see him as an actor or a character. And I think what happens behind peoples scenes make them better actors so hopefully the more experiences you have, the better you can become on screen.

What was it like on set with Sarah [Bolger] who is already quite famous?

I actually didn’t have any fans this had come out [Laughing], so I was fine, I could walk done London and no one… “Well, who’s that blonde guy… eh, he’s just someone… neighbor or something”. But no, Sarah’s great, she’s gonna go so far – she’s a great actress. And her little sister is great as well; she came to the premiere party. But, you know… Sarah for such a young girl, well she’s fourteen, fourteen, yeah, for such a young girl she’s really got something there.

Did Bill Nighy and you improve at all, he had a very dry sense of humor in the film?

It was all in the script. He creates it, this character he said, like we got in the caravan to do make-up and he had already been there and I didn’t know who he was and I didn’t want to say anything so I just sat down. And the first ever words he said is he looked in and he put his glasses on and he said, “I look like my Dad.” [Laughing] So, it was quite funny to work with him as well. He’s a great character.

If things move along really well for you are you thinking about moving here?

Nah. I’d never be a part of like an Entourage or… I’m a very English guy and I love my home, I miss that at the moment.

Is London home or are you outside the city?

I’m just a tiny bit outside, I’m a country boy.

Okay…

I’m called a country boy, yeah; I’m only about fifteen, twenty minutes outside of London.

Maybe not Entourage but what about Extras? Did Ricky Gervais ever come to you and…?

No, but he used Harry Potter instead of me so [Laughing]… And I met him at a party and it’s like, “You know, if you ever wanna like let me in and…” never got a phone call. [Laughing]

There’s time.

Thank you very much.

Let me know what you think. Send questions or comments to jimmyo@joblo.com.

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Source: JoBlo.com

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