After playing a space alien, a gangster and a stripper, Pettyfer finds “Endless Love.”
Sorry, ladies. “Endless Love’s” Alex Pettyfer already has a Valentine’s Day date. It’s his mother.
“What can I say, mate?” he said during a recent publicity visit to Minneapolis. “I’m a boring bloke. What I miss most about England when I’m living here is my mum’s food. She does this pasta with this Arrabbiata with broccoli and bacon in it. Lovely! Her cooking’s got love to it.”
“Endless Love” is the first romantic film for the 23-year-old English actor. He plays David Elliot, a blue-collar boy with a troubled past, who falls for sheltered rich girl Jade Butterfield, played by fellow Brit Gabriella Wilde.
Pettyfer, who became a teen idol after playing a schoolboy spy in the 2006 film “Stormbreaker,” has quickly amassed a diverse résumé. He played a space alien hiding among Earthlings in the young-adult sci-fi film “I Am Number Four,” and an aged gangster in the futuristic Justin Timberlake thriller “In Time.” His best-known role to date was as a handyman turned male stripper in the 2012 hit “Magic Mike.” The role, which memorably featured him being humped by Matthew McConaughey in a banana yellow thong, came his way when a casting director for a different project recommended him to Steven Soderbergh.
“I was just lucky” to land the part, he said. “I say I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
Pettyfer, who divides his time between the United Kingdom and Los Angeles, came from an acting family, but it was never assumed that he would be a performer. His parents encouraged him to pursue a number of different opportunities in education, sports and entertainment. His brother went on to become a tennis professional and Pettyfer competed as a race driver for a time. But fate always seemed to be nudging him toward performing.
He started in commercials at age 6 after bumping into Ralph Lauren in a toy store. He went from playing Willy Wonka in a school production to starring in an English TV production of “Tom Brown’s School Days.”
In recent years he has had few acting opportunities that use his real accent. For “Endless Love,” Pettyfer and Wilde spent a month perfecting Georgia speech patterns. His role is physical, with some fight scenes and a daredevil sequence in a burning mansion, but it was an entirely delightful experience, he said.
“It’s not difficult work,” he said. “When I’m given an opportunity by someone to tell a story I think is meaningful, the preparation’s not hard. To create a movie is hard. And to get the role is hard. But once you’re attached, nothing’s hard. I’m one of the lucky people in this world that can say I’m doing what I love.”
Colin Covert • 612-673-7186