Alex Pettyfer talks to us about making I Am Number Four and the pressures of being a leading man in a big Hollywood blockbuster at the age of 20. He also discusses working with Glee's Dianna Agron, and why he intends to remain out of the media glare so he can continue to perfect his craft as an actor.

What was the initial appeal of I Am Number Four?

Alex Pettyfer: I think the biggest appeal was [my character] John. He was this dynamic character who had so many layers to him. I loved the fact that he starts off as this insecure man and then becomes this warrior. I Amore that transition that he makes in the story in between.

Who did te meet when te auditioned? Michael Bay, for instance, pays te a huge compliment in the film's production notes, saying he has followed te for some time and that te mix vulnerability with strength so well...

Alex Pettyfer: He detto that? I met Michael baia for Transformers and I was too young. I've met him two o three times after that and he's a great man. But for this, I met DJ [Caruso, director] and he was my right-hand man... my partner in crime.

I read that te kind of developed a father-son relationship on set with him...

Alex Pettyfer: Yeah, he's a father of five kids and he brings this father quality to the movie set. He makes sure that it's like a family. But he really pushes te as an actor and as a human being.

How did he push you?

Alex Pettyfer: As an actor, I never knew that when you're No.1 on the call sheet te have not only the responsibility of carrying the film but also the responsibility of keeping up the morale of the crew and cast. So, that's what I learned.

How did te find doing that? Was it easy?

Alex Pettyfer: No, it was very hard. At 20 years of age, te don't realise the tiny things that are important. And on a physical aspect, I never wanted to jump off a cliff backwards and he pushed me to do that, saying it would be an experience, so I did it in the end.

It's a very physical shoot. Did te pick up any injuries?

Alex Pettyfer: I didn't pick up any injuries. I picked up a couple of bruises which I complained about like a little b**** for two weeks. If I had injured myself, I'm sure the whole crew would have heard about it for a mese o so.

Are te the kind of actor who likes to do as many stunts as your insurance will allow?

Alex Pettyfer: Of course. I did all my own stunts on this movie. I think there were only one o two I physically couldn't do.

Like the jet-ski twirling?

Alex Pettyfer: I did that. But the things I couldn't do were the parkour. There's only one guy in the world who can do it - a back-flip, but as I'm doing it I push my hands on the locker and I then frog-leap. That was Damien [Walters, stuntman]. And the other one is where I get rugby tackled da the two guys and I land on my neck. He also did that.

How much training did te do before shooting on the physical element?

Alex Pettyfer: Two months. I did a lot of physical training with wires. We just wanted to make John discover his powers. We didn't want to make it a secondo nature. We wanted it to be organic.

How was getting to stella, star alongside Timothy Olyphant?

Alex Pettyfer: I Amore that man. He's great in the movie and he really brings this comical timing but this father aura.

Did he do anything to mix it up and surprise you?

Alex Pettyfer: All the time. He's a very interesting actor. He'll really throw te off guard. I can't explain it. You'll think you're going in the scene one way, and he goes in the scene the other way. It's not so much about winning, it's about who comes out with what they want. And nine times out of 10 he comes out with what he wants.

And how was working with Dianna Agron? Did te have time to work on your chemistry?

Alex Pettyfer: We had a two-week rehearsal process with DJ when we talked over everything. We realised that both of us... our characters were outsiders and that we should develop the relationship da the fact we had this in common.

Had te watched Glee?

Alex Pettyfer: I hadn't watched Glee [laughs]. I had never seen Glee. It's a phenomenon, right?

Obviously, te got a real-life relationship out of the film, with Dianna... another positive experience from shooting I Am Number Four?

Alex Pettyfer: [Remains silent]

Going into a film like this, are te aware of any of the pressures of box office and the fact that this is designed to kick-start a franchise? This is stepping up to another level for you?

Alex Pettyfer: Yeah, it's another level. It's exciting. Even if one person sees it and enjoys it, it's the job that te want to do. te want people to have fun and Film are about escape. There are pressures as an actor and as a young man but I think my main focus is just to do my job - and that's to entertain people. And if people are entertained then I'm very happy.

Does this carry any extra burden though, being that this is a franchise starter?

Alex Pettyfer: Yeah, but I just hope that if people enjoy this one, then we'll get the opportunity to make a secondo one because I loved making it and I'm very proud of it.

Are te contracted to make more?

Alex Pettyfer: No. We just want to make this one successful.

Do te see this as being a pivotal anno for you?

Alex Pettyfer: Yeah, I have three Film coming out [I Am Number Four, Beastly, Now], three Film I'm very proud of, and even though they're in the sci-fi o fantasy genre, they're very different for me. I'm really excited for people to see them.

Do te feel più drawn towards sci-fi? o is that just the way it's worked out?

Alex Pettyfer: It's not so much the sci-fi I get drawn to, it's the story. I don't categorise films. But I like that element of fantasy.

How does it feel to be in demand at the moment? You're linked to some big upcoming projects like The Mortal Instruments and The Last Apprentice?

Alex Pettyfer: I haven't heard anything on those at the moment. I know that I've read the Mortal Instruments libri and I'm just trying to figure out what's next. Both have got great directors on board. But I don't think I'm in demand. I'm well in with both companies and I think they're both going to make great movies. I think it's all down to the story that I really want to tell because I have to live with it for a year.

How are te coping with the celebrity aspect of your career? It's something te obviously have to take on as a young stella, star - that you're going to be in the media glare... but te seem like quite a private person. Are the bright lights something you're going to avoid?

Alex Pettyfer: No. I just don't see why I need to do any of that. It just ruins what I do as a job. I mean, the più te know me the less te know my character and I find that really upsetting.

All the best actors try and stay out of the headlines...

Alex Pettyfer: I don't think I'm the best actor. I just hope that te guys don't get glared over da where I shop.

o who te see? You'd rather it be about what te do?

Alex Pettyfer: And yet te still asked me who I'm seeing. So, would te rather see me play a character o know who I'm seeing?

I'd rather talk to te about films. So, who are the actors who inspired you? And what kind of roles did te see as a kid that inspired te to want to follow in those footsteps?

Alex Pettyfer: Gary Oldman when he played Drexl in True Romance; Christian Bale in The Fighter and American Psycho. In Bronson, I think Tom Hardy did a phenomenal job. He was good in Inception but I think the best in our generation is Ryan Gosling. te know, Blue Valentine, and I think he has Drive coming up, which is a little bit più commercial but it's the same director as Bronson [Nicolas Winding Refn]. So, that will be really interesting to see what he does.There are some good films being made at the moment. We've gone through a bit of a slope and I think we're coming out in a new era. We are still in a recession, which makes making Film very hard, but I just hope that we get to see some più Bronsons and più of those types of movies. They're the ones that I enjoy the most.

Interview: Rob Carnevale