Throughout his career, acclaimed actor Alex Pettyfer has shown time and again that he's not afraid to spread his creative wings. He's done sci-fi with "I Am Number Four" and "In Time," comedy and drama in "Magic Mike," and even has been willing to play troubling, violent characters like the menacing plantation owner in a small but pivotal role in "Lee Daniels' The Butler."
Now audiences will get to see a much softer side of Pettyfer in "Endless Love," an update of the famed 1981 romance drama, on Valentine's Day. And while Pettyfer said he doesn't make conscious decisions to appear in any specific genre of a film, a traditional romance is something he's always wanted to do.
"It's not about any genre for me, it's more about the subject matter, reading a script and seeing what's appealing," Pettyfer told me in a recent interview. "I love romantic dramas. I love films like 'Love, Actually' and 'Bridget Jones's Diary.' So when 'Endless Love' came along, I was really inspired to make a romantic film. The way the filmmakers wanted to tell the story was so original. As an actor, doing a remake is sometimes the kiss of death, but this film has really turned out fantastic and I'm so proud of it."
Pettyfer stars as David Elliot, the son of a single, blue-collar mechanic (Robert Patrick) who is smart and charismatic, but also has anger issues and is shunned by the privileged people in town. His tough upbringing and short fuse are definitely a detriment when he meets Jade Butterfield (Gabriella Wilde), the sheltered daughter of an esteemed doctor (Bruce Greenwood) and former author (Joely Richardson), who are still reeling from the loss of the family's oldest son.
No matter the roadblocks, though, David and Jade are willing to risk the consequences to carry on their intense love affair – something neither of them have experienced before.
Even though Pettyfer is 23, he feels that he's far enough away from his teen years to miss the sense of freedom that comes with it. He said that yearning is one of the things that immediately drew him to the script.
"I liked going back and being 18 again," Pettyfer explained. "When you're 18 you think a lot differently than when you're 25, and when you're 25 you think a lot differently than when you're 30, and so on."
The interesting quandary, Pettyfer added, is that when you're 18, you want to be 25 and you miss out.
"To go back and experience that naiveté, that sense of security and not having the realities of the world on your shoulders was very liberating."
Even though the film explores the mindset of teens after graduation, Pettyfer believes that you can never be too old to be reminded of the wonderment that goes with your first love.
"What I love about this film is that it can really reach out to a lot of different people. Love is universal. I didn't say that, the Beatles did," Pettyfer said with a laugh.
Pettyfer also said that he admires that the film doesn't try to argue with one singular point of view. Greenwood's character is a father, so naturally he has the right to be protective, even though his actions become a bit too extreme. As for what the teens experience, Pettyfer said he knows that overwhelming feeling that comes with a first love is hard to fight.
"I love this film because you can understand where Bruce Greenwood's character comes from, but I also understand where Jade comes from and where David comes from," Pettyfer observed. "As long as someone like David has chivalry, good intentions and respect, that's all I care about."