The last time I saw Alex Pettyfer in person he was completely exhausted and napping in the corner of a room during a lunch break as production wrapped on the new romantic drama "Beastly." It wasn't that Pettyfer's director, Daniel Branz, was a slave driver or that the 19-year-old was out enjoying the Montreal club scene the night before. No, as the shoot neared its end, the Brit just didn't have much left after playing what turned out to be a fairly challenging role.
A modern re-imagining of the classic "Beauty and the Beast" tale, "Beastly" centers on Kyle (Pettyfer), a well off and pompous Manhattan teen who falls victim to the curse of a Wiccan classmate (Mary-Kate Olsen) after she's had just enough of his immature and hurtful antics. With his appearance dramatically and strangely altered, his father banishes him to the outer boroughs of New York (the horror!) to try and deal with his situation. That's where he encounters Linda, the "beauty" (Vanessa Hudgens) who slowly discovers the new, more humble Kyle.
Speaking to a much more energetic Pettyfer last week, he revealed how turned out to be more difficult than he expected.
"I went through a couple of challenges physically. I had to shave all of my goldilocks which was one of the hardest things for me mentally. And then physically I put on about 12 to 15 pounds [of muscle], because I'm actually quite a skinny guy," Pettyfer says.
That begged the question why Pettyfer's hair loss distressed him so. Was it a fear his blonde mane wouldn't grow back?
"I think when you have an image and you have been with that image for quite some while to change how you look can knock a person's confidence," Pettyfer says. "It really affected me because as soon as I shaved my head it kind of put me in this weird place, the same place [Kyle is in after his transformation] which really helped me with the role a lot. But at the same time, it kind of is a challenge because you are fighting personally with your own problems off set, but then onset you have a great resource to go to."
What also knocked Pettyfer out of the loop were the countless hours it took at the beginning and end of each day to apply and remove the Beast's 67 pieces of make up. He reveals there were seven pieces on his head and other 60 tattoos and individual scares applied when he had the full body make up on. The complete look was a particularly grueling chore that would take up to six hours to have applied.
In the end though and even with the movie a little over nine months away from release, Pettyfer is very proud of his work and of how different the picture will be from previous "Beauty and the Beast" tales.
"It's because it's mostly from the beast's perspective," Pettyfer says. "You're going through a journey with Kyle. And you go on this wild ride where Kyle kind of has to open his eyes see the beauty of life and fall in love with himself and who he is and that amounts to fall in love with others. And I think Daniel is an amazing director. I watched 'Phoebe in Wonderland' and thought his vision was amazing."
"Beastly" opens nationwide on July 30, 2010.