From DreamWorks Studios comes "I Am Number Four" a suspense thriller about an extraordinary young man, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), who is one of the last few surviving members of his planet on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. This movie is directed by D.J. Caruso and also starts Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAuliffe and Kevin Durand.
Constantly having to change his identity and move from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past.
In a small Ohio town, he encounters some unexpected, life changing events like the discovery of his powers and his first love (Dianna Agron) and he is not alone. As producer Michael Bay says, "Number Four has a destiny that's going to catch up to him whether he wants to face it or not. That's where the drama of this movie comes from. This teenager finally finds what he's looking for, but he can't have it because he has to save the world first."
POPCulture Online takes a look at the making of 'I am Number Four"
Finding the right cast members
The filmmakers were excited to put together a case for "I Am Number Four" that would showcase the energy and intensity of the well-drawn characters.
The first task was to fill the role of John Smith, aka Number Four. Caruso knew he had to find someone with a strong personality who also had a sensitive side to portray the character.
Number Four, played by Alex Pettyfer
Along comes Alex Pettyfer, who was delighted to land the lead role of John Smith for two reasons. The first was Pettyfer's desire to work with director D.J. Caruso. The second was the story and the role.
He said "It's really a cool premise, John Smith is at a point in his life where he has a choice and his dilemma is that he wants to be a normal kid but he has been given this destiny of becoming a warrior. He is initially very reluctant and has a James Dean 'Rebel without a cause' outlook. He has the kind of temperament that you feel could explode at any moment"
Producer Michael Bay said Pettyfer has got a ton of charisma and physicality. As Number Four, he brought a mix of strength and vulnerability that not a lot of young actors can pull off.
Sarah, played by Dianna Agron
It was a little different for DIanna Agron who was chosen to play the pivotal role of Sarah by Caruso but he didn't discover her by watching her Emmy Award winning television series, Glee. Instead Caruso explained that Dianna came in to read very late in the process and he was taken by her dynamic, intelligent and beauty. "I thought she would be a great contrast to Alex with their very different personalities" Says Caruso.
Dianna Agron was immediately taken with the script. "What I loved about it was that the kids are quite mature and wise beyond their years" Agron explains. "They might not be 'cool kids' or the ones that pursue typical teenage activities, but they have a lot of heart and spirit, and they go on an awesome journey together."
In the film, Sarah is immediately attracted to John. "John is quite unusual and they have a very intense connection right from the start," Agron explains. "It gets deeper throughout the story. Their relationship is very romantic. It's that young love that isn't tainted by any sort of fear, when you haven't had your heart broken five hundred times."
Number Six, played by Teresa Palmer
Another big character in the film is that of Number Six. A role that Caruso spent searching for someone very special to play. She needed to be able to taken on the intense stunt work that was required of the character. After a long search, he found actress Teresa Palmer (The Sorcerer's Apprentice).
"Number Six is a really powerful, dark, mysterious character." says Caruso. "Teresa embodies that sexy confidence that was required to pull off the role. She has an infectious energy that blew me away when she read for me"
"I auditioned in my natural Australian accent," recalls Palmer. "I think they were a bit skeptical about it at first, but after we talked about it, it seemed to make sense. All nine children wouldn't have been dropped in America; it would have been too dangerous. It was a much more interesting idea to have them land in different countries and have different accents."
Getting in the action
Aside from the drama of the relationships, the making of "I am Number Four" required many different types of action sequences based on the needs of the characters in the story. Teresa Palmer had the majority of the stunt-work to do in the movie. She began training about two months before shooting commenced in Pittsburgh.
Explains Palmer: "I didn't want to do Six the disservice of not knowing how to fight, so I worked with Peng Zhang, a talented fight coordinator who specializes in martial arts. We worked extensively for a few months, concentrating on kicking forms like side kicks, back kicks and front kicks. Then we put all that together with sword work to create fierce action. i also worked hand in hand with the stunt team lead by action coordinator Brad Allan, who trained me to be able to work like one of them. Our goal was to turn me into this character, not to fake it."
Alex Pettyfer had his fair share of stunt work to do. His favorite was being thrown backwards into the school lockers at 40 miles an hour. "The action is so much a part of the scene, and you're so involved in it as it's going on all around you. That pressure really upped the adrenaline, although jumping off a cliff backwards was one of the scariest things I have ever done," Says Pettyfer.
Interview and photos courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Singapore
POPCulture Online March 2011 All Rights Reserved