Alex Pettyfer talks about starring in I Am Number 4
"I Am Number Four" is a suspense thriller about an extraordinary young man, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), who is a fugitive on the run from ruthless enemies sent to destroy him. Changing his identity, moving from town to town with his guardian Henri (Timothy Olyphant), John is always the new kid with no ties to his past. In the small Ohio town he now calls home, John encounters unexpected, life-changing events--his first love (Dianna Agron), powerful new abilities and a connection to the others who share his incredible destiny.
Directed by D.J. Caruso, the screenplay adaptation is by Alfred Gough & Miles Millar and Marti Noxon from the New York Times best-selling book by Pittacus Lore. (scroll down for more information on the director and writers)
Director D. J. Caruso ("Eagle Eye,""Disturbia") has enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks.
"My collaboration with DreamWorks started many years ago when I was directing a television series called 'High Incident,' explains Caruso. "Many years later we teamed up on 'Disturbia,' then we worked together again on 'Eagle Eye,' which was very successful. Steven and I enjoy a shorthand when we are collaborating. He has such a good handle on storytelling that his input into the structure of this movie has been invaluable. I feel like I am part of the DreamWorks family, and it has become my home as a filmmaker."
D.J. Caruso was immediately captivated by the story of "I Am Number Four," particularly the character of John Smith, played by Alex Pettyfer ("Beastly"). "When DreamWorks sent it to me," says Caruso, "I was really attracted to it from the character standpoint--this disenfranchised teenager who keeps moving around, not really putting down roots, and trying to figure out who he is. At the same time, he's got this hidden destiny. I thought it was a really cool story."
"This really is a movie about identity. John is basically a guy, like all of us, who is trying to figure out who he is. Who you want to become, and who you eventually become, are sometimes two very different things, particularly in John's case. He is going through a process of self-discovery, and he has a desire to be normal," Caruso adds.
Caruso admits that he is interested in characters that are going through a dark period. "Through that darkness they figure out where the light is, and they find something good. I think what I am exploring is that you have to experience some bad things in order to grow up, and to find out who you are. I think thematically, that happens in this movie as well."
"I Am Number Four" is the biggest effects movie Carsuo has ever done and he is finding Michael Bay's experience as a director of such mega-hits as "Transformers," "Pearl Harbor" and "Armageddon" an invaluable help. "Michael has been very helpful with the physicality of what needs to happen on set when you are dealing with a CG character," explains Caruso.
The audience can expect "I Am Number Four" to deliver a suspense-filled movie experience featuring relatable, engaging characters grounded in the familiar realm of high school but caught up in a deadly manhunt. As D.J. Caruso explains: "If you take the real-world setting but root it in other-world mythology, along with a disenfranchised character longing for both love and a normal life, you have a really interesting mix of all these different dramatic elements that I think will make an exciting movie."
The filmmakers were excited to put together a cast for "I Am Number Four" that would have the energy and intensity of the well-drawn characters.
Many hours went into the selection process, though D.J. Caruso knew from Alex Pettyfer's first read that he had someone special on his hands. As Caruso says, "I feel that Alex Pettyfer has a really special gift," Caruso reflects. "As interesting, attractive and dynamic as he is; he has an incredible vulnerability that really works for the character. I think it will make audiences fall in love with him."
Alex Pettyfer was delighted to land the lead role of John Smith (aka Number Four) for two reasons. The first was Pettyfer's desire to work with D.J. Caruso. "D. J. is incredible," he explains. "99% of the reason I came onto this movie was because I think he's got an amazing vision. He brings something different to the table," says Pettyfer.
The second was the story and the role. "It's a really cool coming-of-age story," explains Pettyfer. "John Smith starts off as a kid and ends up as a warrior by the end of the movie. He is initially very insecure and has a James Dean 'Rebel Without a Cause' kind of outlook. He has the kind of temperament that you feel could explode at any moment."
Caruso chose actress Dianna Agron to play the pivotal role of Sarah. However, he didn't discover her by watching her Emmy Award-winning television series, "Glee." "I don't watch a lot of television," Caruso says. "She came in to read very late in the process and she knocked me out. She's so dynamic, intelligent, and beautiful. I thought she would be a great contrast to Alex with their very different personalities, and the dynamic they have between them."
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 quote-unquote 'cool kids' or be the ones that pursue typical teenage activities, but they have a lot of heart and spirit, and they go on an awesome journey together."
Caruso was looking for someone very special to play the role of Number Six. She needed to be stunningly beautiful, as well as able to take on the intense stunt work she would have to perform in the movie. After a long search, he found actress Teresa Palmer ("Bedtime Stories," "Grudge 2"). "Number Six is a really powerful, dark, mysterious character," says Caruso. "Teresa embodies the 'sexy confidence' that was required to pull off the role. She has an infectious energy that blew me away when she read for me."
Palmer says of her character, "Six is equally as intimidating as she is enchanting, which makes her a force to be reckoned with. She is used to surviving on her own, making her a very enigmatic and mysterious character. Six has warrior-like skill; her precision and timing of blows is brutal and cunning, which makes her an incredible asset in battle."
Caruso hand-picked Timothy Olyphant ("Justified," "Live Free or Die Hard") to play Henri, John's guardian. "Timothy is a really dynamic person, and has amazing acting rhythms," says Caruso. "It's been wonderful to see what he has done with the role of Henri, and seeing him work with Alex. It's not like the standard father-son relationship. It's more like an older brother or an uncle trying out a kid who he doesn't really know how to handle."
"I think it's just this wonderful sort of tension in the relationship between Henri and John," Olyphant reflects. "Where he loves him, but sometimes he just wants to strangle him. If we've done it right, you should see that Henri's both a bit of a hard-ass and dangerous character, but at the same time you see that he truly cares for the kid."
Callan McAuliffe was about to get on a plane to go home to Australia, after completing work as the male lead in Rob Reiner's "Flipped," when he got a call to audition for the role of Sam. "Sam has a damaged soul," explains director D. J. Caruso. "Callan navigated his emotions perfectly. He is a natural actor who is both funny, and charming."
"Sam is an awkward guy who gets bullied a lot," Callan McAuliffe says of his character. "He is totally obsessed with aliens and is constantly teased. His nickname at school is the Spaceman."
Kevin Durand plays the role of the Mogadorian Commander. "Kevin brought an unorthodox nature that made the Commander dangerous, yet compelling," Caruso reflects. "He has the ability to change the dynamics and rhythm of a scene that raises the bar for everyone involved."
"I met D.J at his office," recalls Durand. "As soon as we shook hands, I knew this was going to be a really fun experience. He's very willing and happy to create something together. Within the structure of the script and the character, he allowed me to play and find those moments that can only come out of being spontaneous, which is really fun and exciting. It's so cool to work with someone who is that confident in his cast."
Aside from the drama of the relationships, the making of "I Am Number Four" required many different types of action sequences and visual effects based on the needs of the characters in the story.
All nine children who have managed to survive the destruction of the planet Lorien escape to Earth with their Cepans (guardians) and they all possess differing super powers. "What's interesting thing about the powers is that 'the nine' aren't really sure what powers they are going to inherit," Caruso explains. "As they mature and they reach their teenage years, they start to discover things like lumen in their hands. It's kind of painful, and they don't really know what they're supposed to do with that yet."
The goal of the filmmakers was to make these powers organic; for example, making the light appear to be coming out of Alex Pettyfer's hands in a natural way. Director of Photography Guillermo Navarro explains his approach, "The character's hands light up and become light sources, so we played with how that affects him and how it effects the environment. It was very tricky to find a way to patch a light to his hand without burning him, but once we figured it out it was very cool."
Actress 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 form--side kicks, back kicks, front kicks--and then putting that together with sword work to create the 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 also had several stunt scenes he needed to master. His favorite was being thrown backwards into the school lockers at 40 miles an hour. "I also loved jumping off the roof sideways, although it was the scariest thing I have ever done," recalls Pettyfer.
Production designer Tom Southwell was brought on board to create the look of "I Am Number Four." Southwell has collaborated with director D. J. Caruso on ten previous occasions, six as his production designer.
Since the story centers around a high school, both during the night and day, a lot of scenes were filmed at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. But the creative challenge for the director and his team was to take a high school "look," which kids see every day, and make it more interesting. One of the ways Southwell approached the task was to use light and lack of color to make the audience feel uneasy, as if something terrifying was about to happen.
When Alex Pettyfer's character John and his guardian are forced to move from a beautiful beach house in Florida to a nondescript old farmhouse in Ohio, Caruso wanted John to dislike the new house. Southwell helped to convey that feeling by making the actual house less attractive and in direct contrast with John's previous idyllic place. Southwell decided to break open some walls as if a renovation had been taking place, and for some unknown reason it had just stopped. He showed beams and wiring, so the characters would be sitting in an unfinished, room. This was in direct contrast to the warmth that was reflected in the home of John's new girlfriend Sarah, where he would encounter the comfort of a true family environment for the first time.
Director Daniel John "D.J." Caruso is an American director and producer. Caruso has directed the films Disturbia, Two for the Money, Taking Lives, The Salton Sea, and Eagle Eye. He has also directed television episodes for shows such as The Shield, Over There, Smallville, and Dark Angel. He directed his first music video in 2007 for the song "Don't Make Me Wait" by This World Fair. He was also a guest judge on the FOX reality show On the Lot for the episode of May 28/29. In 2009 he directed the music video for Airborne Toxic Event, Sometime Around Midnight.
His first feature film as a director was The Salton Sea which starred Val Kilmer. It was released in 2002.
In 2004, Caruso directed Taking Lives with Angelina Jolie, Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland. The film was released in theaters on March 16, 2004 but did not gross as much at box office as expected, only grossing $65,470,529. The film was later released on DVD the same year and was number one on the charts for three straight weeks. Two for the Money was Caruso's next film. In 2007, Caruso was asked by Steven Spielberg to direct Disturbia. The movie was Caruso's first big hit grossing over $117 million, with only a $20 million budget. Eagle Eye was Caruso's second collaboration with Shia LaBeouf. It has grossed $201 million worldwide with a movie budget of $80 million. Caruso is currently working on a film adaptation for Y: The Last Man. It is rumored that it will be Caruso's third time working with LaBeouf. He will be working with Electronic Arts on a movie based on the hit game Dead Space, and direct the film adaptation of Preacher. Director D.J. Caruso talks about I am Number 4 and filmmaking in Hollywood
Born in Leonardtown, Maryland, screenwriter Alfred Gough graduated from St. Mary's Ryken High School (1985) and The Catholic University of America (1989). He is a graduate from the USC School of Cinematic Arts under the Peter Stark Producing Program. Among his other films, Gough co-wrote Shanghai Noon, Shanghai Knights, Spider-Man 2, Herbie: Fully Loaded, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and "I am Number Four". He has also produced Hannah Montana: The Movie. He and frequent collaborator Miles Millar created Smallville, and he was, until 2008, one of the show's executive producers. He wrote several episodes for the first three seasons. Gough and Millar also created the Aquaman television pilot. Gough has joined the writing team for ABC's Charlie's Angels remake and is currently developing a script for the pilot alongside his fellow Smallville executive producer, Miles Millar. He wrote with Miles Millar the screenbook for the upcoming Ghost comedy film Monster High
With writing partner Alfred Gough, British Screenwriter Miles Millar wrote the Jackie Chan vehicles Shanghai Noon and Shanghai Knights. The pair have also worked on several superhero-themed projects. They created and produced the show Smallville on the WB network, and contributed to the screenplays of Spider-Man 2 and Iron Man. Millar and Gough also created the Aquaman pilot. Millar was educated at Claremont Fan Court School, and is a graduate of Christ's College, Cambridge, where he was Chairman of Cambridge University Conservative Association.He is also a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts from the same The Peter Stark Producing Program as his writing partner Alfred Gough. Millar and Gough enjoyed early success with a script they wrote while studying at USC. "Mango", a buddy-cop story where a cop who was allergic to animals was paired with an orangutan, sold to New Line Cinema for $400,000. The film was never made but it brought the pair valuable publicity. With writing partner Alfred Gough, he created Smallville. He is one of Smallville's executive producers and has written many episodes. Millar has joined the writing team for ABC's Charlie's Angels remake and is currently developing a script for the pilot alongside his fellow Smallville executive producer, Alfred Gough
Screenwriter Martha Mills "Marti" Noxon is an American television and film writer first known for writing and producing Buffy the Vampire Slayer. In 1997, Noxon joined the writing staff of Buffy the Vampire Slayer for its second season. During her tenure there, she would go on to write or co-write 22 episodes of the series, half of these during her first two years on the show. In 1999, Noxon co-wrote Just a Little Harmless Sex with Roger Mills. In 2004, Noxon wrote and produced a pilot entitled Still Life for Fox about a family recovering from the death of their son, a police officer. The pilot was not picked up. In January 2005, Noxon co-created the supernatural drama Point Pleasant with John McLaughlin. In February 2007, Noxon co-wrote the third-season Grey's Anatomy episode "Some Kind of Miracle" with series creator Shonda Rhimes. In late 2007, Noxon served as head writer during the first season of Private Practice, after which she left to "[move] on to other projects". In 2008, Noxon co-wrote a second-season episode of the AMC drama series Mad Men, "The Inheritance", for which she was nominated for a 2009 Writers Guild of America Award for Best Dramatic Series.She won the WGA Award for Best Drama Series (after being nominated for the second consecutive year) at the February 2010 ceremony for her work on the third season of Mad Men. She wrote the storybook of the upcoming 2011 remake of Fright Night, which is being directed by Craig Gillespie
Screenwriters Marti Noxon, Miles Milar and Alfred Gough talk about collaborating on I Am Number 4
Am Number Four is a young adult science fiction novel by Pittacus Lore (a pseudonym for James Frey and Jobie Hughes who collaborated on this book). The book was published by HarperCollins on August 3, 2010, and has spent 6 weeks on the children's chapter of The New York Times Best Seller list. The story is set to be continued in The Power of Six, set to be released August 23, 2011 and focus on Number Seven. A preview is provided at the end of a special edition of I Am Number Four. I can feel it in my bones that he is one of us. And I know somehow, that I must find him. I've seen him on the news. Followed the stories about what happened in Ohio. John Smith, out there, on the run. To the world, he's a mystery. But to me . . . he's one of us. Nine of us came here, but sometimes I wonder if time has changed us--if we all still believe in our mission. How can I know? There are six of us left. We're hiding, blending in, avoiding contact with one another . . . but our Legacies are developing, and soon we'll be equipped to fight. Is John Number Four, and is his appearance the sign I've been waiting for? And what about Number Five and Six? Could one of them be the raven-haired girl with the stormy eyes from my dreams? The girl with powers that are beyond anything I could ever imagine? The girl who may be strong enough to bring the six of us together? They caught Number One in Malaysia. Number Two in England. And Number Three in Kenya. They tried to catch Number Four in Ohio--and failed. I am Number Seven. One of six still alive.And I'm ready to fight.
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