Drama Surrounds 'I Am Number Four' Star Alex Pettyfer

The actor's defiant behavior is giving Hollywood studio executives pause.
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
The actor's defiant behavior is giving Hollywood studio executives pause.

With starring roles in three 2011 films, including the sci-fi thriller I Am Number Four, opening Feb. 18, British actor Alex Pettyfer is developing a reputation as a hot young star. Inside Hollywood, however, he's also developing a reputation as being especially difficult and demanding.

According to several sources close to Number Four, tensions between Pettyfer, 20, and director D.J. Caruso ran so high last summer on the Pennsylvania set that DreamWorks CEO Stacey Snider was forced to intervene. (DreamWorks and Pettyfer's reps declined comment.)

Insiders say that when Pettyfer, who was being paid in the $250,000 range for the film, heard he was making less than another actor, he demanded to renegotiate his deal. DreamWorks refused, prompting Pettyfer to go into protest mode. As recently as December, he had not cashed a single check for his Number Four work. (He has since cashed checks.)

Soon after the DreamWorks standoff, Pettyfer switched his lead agent from WME's Adam Isaacs to the same agency's Thor Bradwell, who counts Twilight megastar Taylor Lautner among his clients. Pettyfer's girlfriend, Glee actress and Number Four co-star Dianna Agron, soon fired her entire team and also signed with Bradwell.

Reports of defiant behavior also circled Beastly, the CBS Films romance set for release in March. In mid-January, Pettyfer failed to show up for a scheduled marketing meeting at the studio, leaving CEO Amy Baer and her team waiting for two hours. (A CBS Films rep says Pettyfer called to explain he was having car trouble.)

Headstrong young actors are nothing new in Hollywood. And Pettyfer's charismatic performances in Number Four, Beastly and the October sci-fi thriller Now are said to be of star-making quality. But during recent weeks, Pettyfer has been courted for two projects -- Mortal Instruments at Screen Gems and The Last Apprentice at Legendary -- and the actor's behavior has left some scratching their heads. A meeting at Screen Gems ended abruptly when Pettyfer and his team asked for close to $10 million, drawing outrage from studio topper Clint Culpepper, according to sources. (Screen Gems insiders insist talks with Pettyfer are ongoing.)

"Pick your words: ambitious, hungry, cocky, very ahead of himself," says a producer who has worked with him. "But if he delivers, he'll be worth it."

And by many accounts, Pettyfer has mended his relationship with DreamWorks. The studio is developing a racing drama for him, and he has traveled to London, Miami and New York doing heavy promotion for Number Four, which premieres Wednesday night.

"He's turned into a great partner," says a DreamWorks exec.