Teresa Palmer discusses her role as an alien warrior in the new sci-fi movie, based on the popular book
Australian actress Teresa Palmer first gained attention for her role in two films that she didn't end up making, George Miller's Justice League of America and Fury Road. But last summer, she appeared in The Sorcerer's Apprentice, co-starring Nicolas Cage and Jay Baruchel and next year will be seen in the new sci-fi thriller, I Am Number Four.
The film is based on the popular book of the same name, which is about nine infant aliens sent to Earth to hide from a group of enemy hunters. The nine aliens can only be killed in numerical order, and with the first three already dead, John Smith (Alex Pettyfer) is about to learn that he is Number Four. Now to protect himself, he must team up with Number Six (Palmer) in order to unlock his secret powers, if they have any chance of survival. The film is directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) and produced by directors Steven Spielberg and Michael Bay. We recently had a chance to speak with actress Teresa Palmer about the upcoming film, her challenging role and a possible sequel. Here is what she had to say:
To begin with, what can you tell us about your character in the movie, Number Six?
Teresa Palmer: So Number Six comes from the same world as Number Four, the Planet Lorien. She is very intimidating, but she is equally as enchanting and intoxicating. She's a force to be reckoned with. She is an incredible martial artist. She is a warrior. She can fight anyone who comes in her path. She's just a ferocious sort of gal, but she's real and she has vulnerabilities too.
Tell us what it was like preparing for this role?
Teresa Palmer: It was really physically challenging. It was beyond anything I could have imagined. When I got the role, they warned me there would be a lot of training involved. I was excited by it. I thought it would be great. I thought, "Oh it will be great, I can just do some sit-ups and that will be it," but it was one of the most intense periods of my life. We trained for three months prior to starting the movie. It was like four hours a day, six days a week. We started with sword work and we worked our way until I had a routine working with the sword. Then we got into kicks and we combined the routine with the swords and then stunt work. I was on wires flipping upside down and forwards and learning to do back flips and slides. I learned to ride a Ducati motorbike. It was very intense and challenging, but in the most wonderful way.
Did you ever get injured at all working on this film?
Teresa Palmer: I did. Yeah, at one point I was working very close, hand in hand with the stunt team. I made a point of saying to the stunt coordinator that I didn't want to fake it. I wanted to be able to do everything that Number Six can do, except for invisibility and the fireproof part. So that meant I had to up my training even more. So I worked with the stunt guy this one day and we had choreographed a routine. We got on set and I must have been tired and I missed one of my beats and he swung. He was on his beat and on his mark. He swung and he smacked me in the side of the face. I thought my teeth had fallen out because my mouth had gone numb and I was trying to spit out my teeth. But then I realized my mouth was just numb and it was bleeding in the inside. It was cool because I was like, "That would have happened to her," and I can use that. It actually put this fierceness in the rest of the scene. I was like, "Yeah bring it on."
Can you talk about the relationship between Number Six and Number Four? Is it a brother/sister relationship or is there a possible romance brewing between them?
Teresa Palmer: Yeah, she is very much Four's mentor. She has been doing this a lot longer than he has. He is only just discovering his powers and really getting introduced into this world of aliens and having special powers. She has been doing this for a long time and she is a warrior. There is a lot of tension between them because he isn't use to being pushed around or being told what to do. She isn't use to working hand in hand with someone. She's a loner and she does it herself. There is definitely a bit of animosity between them and there is a bit of sassiness there, which is interesting. That slowly turns into a bit of sexual tension, which is interesting. I think that kind of sets up this idea of a love triangle later on in the books and hopefully in the future films.
Tell us about director D.J. Caruso's vision for the film and what it was like working with him?
Teresa Palmer: He had a very specific vision for the film. He was very passionate about his movie and the characters. He wanted it to be grounded in a reality. I think this is what sets I Am Number Four apart, yes we have incredible action, we have amazing special effects, but we also have a love story that seems very real. We have characters that, even though they have special powers, they are dealing with the same things we as audience members do every day, the idea of not being able to fit in and feeling alone at times and all sorts of things. I think because of that people are not only going to feel connected to the characters but also to the story as a whole.
Were you excited to find out that Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg were going to be involved with the project and what was their influence on the movie?
Teresa Palmer: It blew my mind that my name would even be included in a sentence with Steven Spielberg's name. My manager was like "Steven Spielberg is producing this movie and they want to offer you the role." It absolutely left me flabbergasted. I am one of the biggest fans of his. I just love the films he has done. He is a veteran. He knows exactly how to make these movies, as does Michael Bay. It's exciting that even on the trailer, Michael Bay's name is very prevalent and it is really going to help the film. He really knows what he is doing with those types of films and he can really deliver that. So it is very exciting for our movie.
What were some of the differences you experienced working on this movie, as apposed to some of the films you've worked on in the past? Did you have to make any adjust as an actor?
Teresa Palmer: In The Sorcerer's Apprentice I don't really get to be involved in the action. Rather in I Am Number Four I am involved in all the action. At least my character, every time she is on screen she is fighting someone. So that is a whole different ball game, which means I just had to be extremely focused because I had to change every aspect of myself, the way I walk, the way I talk, the way I look at people, the way I communicate. A warrior walks in a certain way. They are ready to strike at any second. So, I just had to maintain that throughout the duration of this film. It is exhausting. It is really, really exhausting. I worked with special effects and we did a lot of practical stunts, which meant it wasn't CGI. I actually was attached to a crane sixty feet high up in the air and flung upside down. It made it all more enthralling and exciting.
Finally, how would you feel about returning to this role and doing a sequel if the film is successful?
Teresa Palmer: I would embrace it with open arms. You know the second book is going to be called "The Power of Six". So there is a much bigger focus on my character in the second book and hopefully the second movie. That to me is so exciting, the idea of that, and the potential of that turning into a franchise. I would love to portray Number Six again. She's a strong character. I think she is someone people can look up to. She doesn't need a man to take care of herself. She really truly is a hero and I think that is refreshing.
I Am Number Four was released February 18th, 2011 and stars Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer, Dianna Agron, Callan McAuliffe, Kevin Durand, Jake Abel, Jeff Hochendoner. The film is directed by D.J. Caruso.