There’s a reason why Beauty and the Beast is such a timeless story. It’s message about inner-beauty and looking beyond vanity is something that can and will always be applicable to our society. Any where on Earth is that story better suited than in a high school?
Daniel Barnz’s Beastly takes the traditional story and moves it to modern day New York where a vain, pompous rich kid, played by Alex Pettyfer, is turned into a ghastly looking figure. In order to ever change back, he must get somebody to love him for his personality instead of his appearance, and he believes that he has found this person in Lindy, played by Vanessa Hudgens.
Sitting down in a roundtable interview with the two stars, we discussed what it was like working with Barnz as a director, what it was like for Alex to sit in the make-up chair for such an incredible length of time, and what it was like working with each other on set. Check it out below.
Alex, what did you do to get through the arduous three hours of make-up every single day?
Alex Pettyfer: Well, it was five and a half, for one. I think it’s [listening to] The Police and watching movies.
When you were first shown the conceptual design for the character, did it ever flash in your mind that the make-up process would take so long?
AP: I think I had this image in my mind that it was just one of those things where you’re like that [pulls invisible rubber mask over his head], and it takes 30 seconds — not the case. So I guess I had a different view of what it was going to be, but I’m very proud of how it turned out.
A lot of the Hunter/Kyle character involves developing a moral conscience and then learning how to romance a girl. What do you do to romance a girl?
AP: Buy her chocolate, go for a meal, watch a movie.
You don’t write the long-hand page-after-page letters or go out and buy her Bulgari diamonds?
AP: No. Oh, wow, I wish. If I had that money, then I would be good. I’d fund my own movies.
Are you a fan of writing letters long-hand like your character?
AP: I haven’t ever done a long-hand, written letter, but I think that maybe I should start.
You prefer the computer?
AP: Oh yeah.
Vanessa, how do you bring the damsel in distress archetype into the 21st century?
Vanessa Hudgens: I think a damsel in distress, no matter how you look at it, is a female in need. My character, Lindy, in the beginning, who thinks it’s a lot easier to go through life under the radar, to lay back rather than stand out. I feel a little saddening, you know, because I feel like women are a strong breed and we should stand up and it’s really beautiful because I feel like, especially in this, through love she kind of find herself and learns to love herself, which allows her to love someone else.
What attracted you to the role, Alex?
AP: I think just from where the character started to where he finished and that journey. Everyone kind of looks for a journey and he had a very interesting one. I was also attracted to that classic tale of Beauty and the Beast. I’d never seen it told through the male’s perspective.
Did the director, Daniel Barnz, at any point sit you guys down and show you the artwork and the design that he was using to develop the look of the movie?
VH: When I first sat down with Daniel he had a whole book of how he wanted it to look, he had a lot of references to Pride and Prejudice – just kind of the way that it looked, because it’s very visual, you get to have a play on the way that we see things. He wanted to shoot through glass and all of these really interesting ideas and I knew that he had a very clear vision so I put my trust in him entirely.
Alex, is there any news on the Hunger Games front?
Have you read the books?
What did you think of them?
AP: I liked them.
If you could cast anyone for Katniss’ character, who would you cast?
AP: I don’t know.
How hard is it to keep a straight face when you are working with Neil Patrick Harris?
AP: He’s very funny because he cracks up himself. I needed to see him not make himself laugh so we had a bonding session and we went and watched Bruno – very funny sitting next to Neil Patrick Harris watching Bruno. Let’s just put it that way, very, very funny.
There was some time in between when the film was completed and now that it’s being released. In that time that has passed, has it given you a chance to look back on the film in a different way and perhaps see it in a new light?
AP: This is not a summer movie. It was a beautiful love story and it was going against big blockbusters and that’s not what we wanted. We had a targeted audience so we moved it to this day and it actually gave us a chance to redo the ending and make it a better film. I’m very happy that it comes out March 4th.
What surprised you working with each other?
VH: I don’t know. We didn’t know each other before we did the movie, but the whole thing was a learning experience with each other. We had a lot of fun and it was a very creative environment and Daniel, our director, gave us the room to play and figure these scenes out and it was a lot of fun.
And you, Alex?
What did each of you learn while making this film?
AP: Patience and teamwork.
VH: With each project you do you learn something new and practice makes perfect. I think the best acting class you’ll get is to actually be in front of the camera. It was a lot of fun. I got to play a new character that I hadn’t played before and find new beats I haven’t really played before, as well. I feel like it was an awesome growth.
You both just came off working with some very stylized directors, Zack Snyder and D.J. Caruso, respectively. How did your experience working with Daniel Barnz compare?
VH: Daniel was really great because he really wanted to help us develop our characters. Even though this is a take on a fantasy he wanted our characters to be very real and have real depth and emotion. That was something I thank him so much for because we really figured out who these people were and then, from there, built on top of it, working on the scenes. He really wanted to make sure that we felt prepared and feel like we could do the best that we could.
Alex, what is more of a challenge for you, playing American or playing disgustingly rich?
AP: Being American. Because most of you are disgustingly rich.
One of the bigger changes from the novel to the film is that the character isn’t a hairy, hirsute, animal like creature. Was that a relief, that you weren’t going to look like a guy in a werewolf outfit?
AP: Yes, definitely. I’m glad we went more Edward Scissorhands than we did Twilight.
Were you thinking of Edward Scissorhands while you did it?
AP: No, I was thinking more along the lines of Freddy Kruger. No, not really. I don’t know. I think we did something original.
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NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.