Based on the best-selling book by Pittacus Lore, the story centers on John Smith (Alex Pettyfer), a high school kid who doesn’t fit in with other kids his age. And with good reason — he’s an alien from a remote planet. He’s also on the run from treacherous alien enemies determined to take his life. Read my review of ‘I Am Number Four,’ and check out more about the DVD/Blu-ray.
Read on for Palmer’s thoughts on playing a strong female character, eating healthy food, channeling Angelina Jolie, and moving from Australia to Los Angeles.
Was it fun playing a strong female character?
It was very empowering to play such a strong character. We don’t often see female warriors like this on screen, and she really is a bit of a hero. She’s intimidating, but also alluring and charming and sassy. There’s definitely something mysterious about her, too. When we’re introduced to her, we don’t really know if she’s one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. And I like that about her.
Were you inspired by any female warriors?
I actually referenced Angelina Jolie in this film and her performances in ‘Tomb Raider’ and ‘Wanted.’ There’s something about Angie that’s very intoxicating and intimidating all at the same time, and Number Six has similar qualities. I just think Angelina is so phenomenal; there’s something very mysterious about her, too, so she’s a great role model for me.
How do you see Number Six? What kind of person is she?
I think she’s a dark horse, and she has complexities to her. She’s used to living an isolated lifestyle, so there’s a part of her that’s quite lonely on the inside, and she has vulnerabilities like anyone else. She wants to be loved, and she wants to fit in, but she has a very tough exterior. You would not want to cross her, and you can tell that she means business. I also think she’s very calculated, which is quite funny because all those things are very different from who I am. It meant that I had to make a real transformation from myself to portray Number Six.
How are you different, and what do you share with the character?
Well, we do have a similar style in clothes. I’m a rocker, and my wardrobe’s all black. Number Six wears tight black jeans and a big belt and a chain dangling down. She has a tattoo and a skeleton ring, and she is definitely ‘out there.’ In general, I’m a bubbly, jovial sort of girl who wears my heart on my sleeve. I don’t really have a tough exterior like Number Six. I still don’t understand what they saw in me in the audition, because I was super bubbly and probably should have acted a little tougher. But I guess it worked out, because they cast me, which was great.
How did you prepare for this role? There’s a lot of tough action!
It was such a physical role, so it meant that I was training for weeks and months. I learned martial arts and worked with Peng Zhang, an amazing fight coordinator. I had to learn how to fall and fight and use a sword and shoot a gun. And then, of course, I had learn to ride the Ducati motorbike that you see me riding in the movie. That took a few weeks. I started learning on a little dirt bike and gradually worked my way up.
What was it like working with D.J.Caruso?
D.J.’s wonderful. He’s very supportive and also gives you the freedom to find your own character. He told me to do what I wanted with the character, while making sure she’s ‘Angelina Jolie-ish.’ It was nice because he put his trust in me, and that’s very refreshing.
What was the atmosphere like on the set? Was it fun?
It was so much fun. We were shooting nights a lot of the time, and it’s always fun when everyone else in the city is asleep and there’s a little group of you who are awake. I think the energy of that atmosphere means that you become connected to each other on the set, and it becomes like a family. I loved that, and we all hung out together when we weren’t working.
How do you stay in shape?
I love eating healthy food now, but I used to be obsessed with Burger King and ate a lot of meat and fries. I still love sweet potato fries and cheesecake. A while ago, I decided to eliminate processed foods, and all of a sudden I felt amazing. I’ve been feeling great ever since I cut out all the bad stuff in my diet.
Do you have an intense work out regimen?
I worked out seven days a week for the film, because I really wanted to become a stuntwoman and prove I could do all the action. I didn’t want them to treat me like a fragile actress who couldn’t do her own stunts. I was black and blue and bruised, but it was well worth it. And because of that, I’m in the best shape of my life.
What was it like moving to Hollywood from Australia?
Initially, the transition was tough, moving from Adelaide, South Australia to Los Angeles. L.A. is so different from little old Adelaide. When I first moved to California, I didn’t know anyone and I wasn’t working, so I had a tough year. That was in 2007, and I’m proud that I stuck it out, made some friends, and finally became settled.