The stunning and talented Australian actress Teresa Palmer sits down for an interview about her role in I Am Number Four, the exciting action adventure, starring Alex Pettyfer and Dianna Agron.
Directed by D.J. Caruso, Pettyfer plays John Smith (Number Four) a fugitive from outer space who is on the run from ruthless extraterrestrial enemies who are out to destroy him. Agron plays the girl he falls in love with, while Palmer plays Number Six, a tough, feisty and very sexy young woman who is also from a distant planet.
How much fun was it playing this powerful and very sexy character?
Teresa Palmer: It was wonderful. It was very empowering to play such a strong character. I don’t think that we often see female warriors like this on screen and she really is a bit of a hero. She’s intimidating, but also I think she is alluring and charming and sassy. There’s definitely something mysterious about her, too. I think 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. It was very refreshing.”
Were you inspired by any female warriors?
Teresa Palmer: I actually referenced Angelina Jolie in this film, not so much her as a person but her performances in TOMB RAIDER and in WANTED. I think she’s the perfect female warrior. 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 is something very mysterious about her too, so she is a great role model for me.
How do you see Number Six? What kind of person is she?
Teresa Palmer: 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 to you share with the character?
Teresa Palmer: Well we do have a similar style in clothes. I’m a rocker, my wardrobe’s all black (although today I’m dressed as girlie as possible so as to provide a contrast with my role in this movie). Number Six is a ‘bad-ass chick’ wearing 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. I am very open, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I don’t really have a tough exterior at all like Number Six. I just am who I am and that’s it. I still don’t understand what they saw in me in the audition because I came in, I was super bubbly and I probably should have acted a little more tough, but I guess it ended up working because they cast me, which was great.
How did you prepare for this role, there’s a lot of tough action?
Teresa Palmer: It was such a physical role so it meant that I was training for weeks and months. I learned martial arts, I worked with Peng Zhang, an amazing fight coordinator who specializes in martial arts. I became a stuntwoman, I had to learn how to fall and fight and use a sword and shoot a gun. I wanted to actually become the character, not to fake it. 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 then I gradually worked my way up and then finally got up to the Ducati. But it was really difficult actually because I was riding one particular style of the Ducati in Los Angeles, then when I traveled out to Pittsburgh to start shooting, I had to get on a different bike so it was like starting again. I realized that the gas tank was now in front which meant that it changed my stance completely, so I had to be almost lying down while I was riding it. I had to learn how to balance in that position, which was very challenging.
What was it like working with D.J.Caruso?
Teresa Palmer: D.J.’s wonderful. He’s very supportive and he 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’ (laughs) but within that realm he let me do what I wanted to do. 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?
Teresa Palmer: It was so much fun. We were shooting nights a lot of the time and that is 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 just like a family. I loved that and we all hung out together when we were not working.
You have a fantastic figure, does staying slim come naturally to you?
Teresa Palmer: I love eating healthy food. I haven’t always liked eating healthy though, only for the last few years. (laughs) I used to be obsessed with Burger King and eating a lot of meat and fries and I still love sweet potato fries, they are my favorite. I also love desserts like cheesecake. A while ago I found that I was feeling quite sluggish and so 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. Now I am lucky ‘touch wood’, for the time being at least, because I don’t really put on weight.
Do you have an intense work out regime?
Teresa Palmer: I worked out a lot for the film, seven days a week, because I really wanted to become a stuntwoman and prove I could do all the action. I didn’t want them to treat me as though I was a fragile actress who couldn’t do her own stunts. I said: ‘pretend you’ve hired me to be a stuntwoman to play this role’ and I just went in there and I was black and blue and bruised, but it was well worth it. Also, because of that I got in the best shape I’ve ever been in my life.
You still look like you are in great shape.
Teresa Palmer: Oh, well, I’ve lost it a little bit of muscle, I’m a little bit softer. But I work out with a great trainer, Jason Walsh who also trains Jessica Biel. What happened was that I saw some pictures of Jessica on the beach in her little bikini and I thought ‘wow’, because she looked incredible. So I called her trainer and I’ve been working out with him for the last couple of years, twice a week. I do cardio twice a week and I do weight training several times a week.
You’ve worked with some fantastic directors and actors already. What have been the highlights in your career so far?
Teresa Palmer: The film 2.37 was one of the best films that I’ve ever done, only because it was my very first film and it was all about getting my feet wet. I was thrown in at the deep end on that movie. I played a rape victim. That was definitely a highlight. Take Me Home Tonight was great too. It is an ’80s comedy with Topher Grace and Anna Faris and it’s exciting because we had so much fun shooting that film. It was fantastic to experience that ’80s era while making the movie. I was born in ’86 so I got to go back there and have the crazy hair and the fun outfits and all the make-up and that was a dream.
Your career is going so well, do you think it is purely talent or does luck play a part in success for an actor?
Teresa Palmer: I think it’s a mixture of both. I think obviously luck comes into it, but I feel that destiny comes into the equation too. I believe that you have to have some sort of talent otherwise you wouldn’t have longevity in your career. You may get cast in one film but it would not continue on after that. Hard work plays a huge part in it all too. When I first came out to LA, I was focused on the goal of getting jobs and I would work incredibly hard at my auditions and run around to different meetings and do dialect training and acting training and I was just so motivated to succeed. Recently though, I’ve become more relaxed in those areas and I do believe that maybe my career and success was already predestined; that I was supposed to do this. But who knows? You never know.
What has it been like moving to Hollywood from Australia?
Teresa Palmer: Initially the transition was tough, moving from Adelaide, South Australia to Los Angeles. LA 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 am proud that I stuck it out and I made some friends and then I finally became settled and now a few years later, I’m very happy living here.
What motivated you originally, because you didn’t come from a show biz background did you?
Teresa Palmer: No, I came from very humble beginnings and I didn’t ever really pursue acting actively. I never would have thought that I would be out in Los Angeles working in films right now. My mother still cannot believe it. She is a very religious woman and she always says that God answered her prayers (laughs), which is very endearing and sweet.
How did your film career get going?
Teresa Palmer: I had some meetings with some agents and I met my manager and he believed in me straight away, even though I had only done very small roles in Australia. He said to me, ‘ I think you’re going to have longevity and I want to be a part of your future and I want to help you’ and he really did. He has been very nurturing. He actually brought me out here to LA and I was lucky. I came out here and I just started working. I was auditioning and I ended up booking that first role in 2:37, that come out at the Cannes Film Festival and since then my career has snowballed and I’m still here, so I feel very blessed.
What are your ambitions – other than work and career?
Teresa Palmer: I would love to have children before I’m 30, at least to start having children before I’m 30. That has always been my dream and I really embrace that. I also want to start my own website dealing with parenting and healthy living. I’ve got so many big dreams, I don’t just want to be an actress, I have interests in many different areas and I am excited about all of them.
I AM NUMBER FOUR is Available on Blu-ray & DVD May 24th!