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Alex Pettyfer describes playing a brooding teenager in 'Endless Love'

English actor Alex Pettyfer left a strong impression on audiences with his role of Alex Rider in “Stormbreaker.” While that movie was not a huge success, it did earn him a couple of acting nominations and he went from there to take on roles in “I Am Number Four,” “Beastly,” “Magic Mike” and “Lee Daniels’ The Butler.” Pettyfer’s latest movie, “Endless Love,” has him starring as David Axelrod, a high school graduate who falls head over heels in love with the very intelligent but shy Jade Butterfield (played by Gabriella Wilde). It’s a remake of the 1981 movie of the same movie, but this one looks to take Scott Spencer’s novel in a slightly different direction.

Movie poster for "Endless Love."
Universal Pictures
Alex Pettyfer being interviewed about "Endless Love"

We got to meet up with Pettyfer when he stopped by the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, California for the “Endless Love” press junket. When he first appeared with a beard and all, he tried to trick us into thinking that he was the cleaning guy, and this led one reporter to say that he now has an extra skill he can add to his resume. Among his favorite romance movies are “Love Story,” “Love Actually” and “Bridget Jones’ Diary” (he asked us not to judge him on the last one). When it came to doing “Endless Love,” he explained what specifically drew him to the material.

What I love about this movie is that it’s about two young people fall in love for the first time, and that naivety they have was very inspiring for me,” Pettyfer said. “A lot of these movies like ‘Love Story’ touch on the basis of what people have to do when they fall in love and then get married and have children and this and that. This movie doesn’t touch on that subject. It’s about pure love and the consequences that come with that, being a young man and a young woman.”

“This film was great,” Pettyfer continued. “I’m 23 and I’ll be 24 soon, and I think when you’re my age you kind of want to have an aura of like a man. You want to be a man, and to do this film you had to go back and become a child again to fill all those feelings for the first time. I think that’s a really scary thing for anyone, to act like a child and have those innate feelings that come to you, and Shana (Feste, the director) was great guiding me at that. I guess that’s why I wanted to be a part of this.”

Doing “Endless Love” also gave Pettyfer the opportunity to work with excellent actors like Joely Richardson and Bruce Greenwood. Greenwood is best known for playing President John F. Kennedy in “Thirteen Days” and for playing Captain Christopher Pike in last year’s “Star Trek Into Darkness,” and he remains one of the most reliable character actors working in movies today. We all wondered what Pettyfer thought of working with Greenwood, and he was very forthcoming in his response.

“People ask me, ‘Why do you love making films?’ And I always tell them, ‘Because I love film,’” Pettyfer said. “I hope that I can call myself a movie buff, and to work with Bruce Greenwood was an incredible experience for someone like me; someone who is just starting out and hopefully will have longevity. To work with him and his work ethic and the way he approaches a scene is mind blowing to me. The guy picks up things that I don’t even notice.”

“There was a scene where we sit down for dinner and he gives the telescope to Gabriella and he says, ‘I want the place matting set for my lost child. I want an empty seat there because my character would still set the table because I’m still in mourning’ and I wouldn’t even think of that,” Pettyfer continued. “The original scene, I don’t think it made it into the movie, I go to sit down in that seat and he goes, ‘Don’t sit there,’ and that’s something he comes up with. He adds layers to a scene, and as a young actor that’s amazing to walk away from. I would never look at something like that before, and now hopefully as I go on in my career I can hopefully do the same and really look into that kind of stuff.”

When it came to Scott Spencer’s book and the original movie, the character of David Axelrod was a much more dangerous and volatile individual. While David means well, his temper more often than not typically gets the best of him. But with Feste’s version, it looks like David has been toned down to where audiences will hopefully find him more empathetic. For some this reeks of studio executives messing with the material to get that valuable PG-13 rating, but Pettyfer explained why he and the filmmakers made certain changes with this character.

“With this ‘Endless Love,’ we wanted to start the movie where David has made a conscious decision to change his life for the better because we access the movie into a point where he’s already a little bit in love with Jade,” Pettyfer said. “When they meet at the valet, that is just a moment that’s been waiting to happen for four years, so we didn’t want to indulge in something that he was a part of in the past. We just wanted it to be his past and something that loitered around him. I think every woman wants a man that just loves them and wants to lust after them, and we didn’t want to have any baggage with that. We wanted the baggage to be history that came up in the movie. You see David at one of the best times of his life, and meeting this woman is an incredible thing for him and only makes him want to strive to be a better man and change the way of where he’s going in his life.”

Of course, one of the big issues people are having with this film, even before they’ve even seen a frame of it, is how a woman as beautiful as Jade can be so awkward and not have any friends. This isn’t the first time we’ve something like this happen, and it has played a big part in films like “Say Anything” where John Cusack fell hard for the beautiful, brilliant and socially awkward Ione Skye. It turns out that this was also a problem with Pettyfer when it came to signing on to do this movie.

I sat down with the studio and, excuse my language, I said ‘whoever wouldn’t f---ing go out with that girl is nuts because she is beautiful! How is she going to play someone that is awkward?’ I know what you’re saying, but Gabriella comes across like she does it to a T,” Pettyfer explained. “I don’t mean to say this because she’s not like this; she’s a very beautiful woman, but in how she plays Jade in the movie, she’s very awkward and shut off. People say, ‘How can someone that beautiful not have friends?’”

Everyone also wanted to know what it was like for Pettyfer to act opposite Gabriella Wilde. Wilde came to everyone’s attention in Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers,” and she also co-starred in last year’s remake of “Carrie.” Pettyfer said it was great working with her and described her as “very easy going.” He also said that they were both English and had a connection they could really build off of. But then someone asked him what it was like to kiss her in those love scenes, and that’s when Pettyfer started to blush a little.

It is so awkward, so awkward,” Pettyfer explained. “We had a scene where we make a love for the first time and she’s very awkward because she’s never done it. You think these things are romantic, sensual, and you come in your robe and it’s all quiet. You take off your robe and then you start to kiss Gabriella, and you look to your right and there’s a big burly man standing with a light over you going, ‘Just move it to the right a little bit mate.’

As the press conference came to an end, Pettyfer was asked if he had any advice for how to get along with the parents of their girlfriend. This was a question he said he had gotten all day long, and he explained why he was having some trouble answering it.

“I’ve never been in a situation where I haven’t gotten along with my girlfriend’s parents,” Pettyfer said. “I’ve been very lucky to have girlfriends that have had such amazing families that have brought me in. I’ve really actually grown with my girlfriends and the people that they’ve introduced me to, and the way that I’ve been welcomed in by their families… I’m a very, very lucky man.”

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