Drama Around Alex Pettyfer

Lorey Sebastian/Paramount Pictures

Star-to-be’s defiant actions are giving studio execs pause.

With starring roles in three 2011 films, British actor Alex Pettyfer is developing a reputation as a hot young star. Inside Hollywood, he’s also developing a reputation as being difficult and demanding. According to several sources close to I Am Number Four, tensions between Pettyfer, 20, and director D.J. Caruso ran so high last summer 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, 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.

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 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 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.”