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I Am Number Four – How Teresa Palmer got to speak Australian

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I am Number Four - Teresa Palmer
A skilled warrior, Number Six (Teresa Palmer) has no intention of being hunted down by the ruthless enemies sent to destroy her—she is tracking them instead © 2011 DreamWorks

In 2005, Teresa Palmer was named one of Australia’s Stars of Tomorrow by Screen International. Since then she has gone on to appear opposite Nicolas Cage in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, with Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories and will soon be seen with Topher Grace in Take Me Home Tonight.

In her new movie, I Am Number Four, Teresa portrays Number Six, one of several aliens who were played on Earth as children, until the day their powers emerge and they are able to fight the alien race, the Mogadorians, that is stalking and killing them one-by-one.

You got to keep your Australia accent in this. How did you convince them to do that?

I am Number Four - Teresa Palmer
Number Six (Teresa Palmer) tracking her ruthless enemies © 2011 DreamWorks

It was awesome. It was actually very refreshing to use my natural dialect, because I don’t usually get to do that. I auditioned for the film in my American accent and the casting directors said, ‘Come in. She doesn’t have to be American and you can use your natural accent.’ So I did and there were some discussions as to whether I’d be British or if I could be Australian and we ended up choosing the Australian dialect.

After we were done, I got a call saying, ‘Everyone loves the character and the accent. The only problem is we can’t understand some of your worlds.’ So I had to go in and ADR it and Americanize some words. So, for me, to listen back to it, I think it’s kind of a strange thing because it’s split in the middle between American and Australian.

What are Number Six’s superpowers?

Number Six has the ability to make herself invisible. She can disappear and then reappear in another part of the room. It’s basically teleporting. It’s an incredible skill to have in a fight because she will be in the middle of battle, then suddenly she will disappear as they are about to strike and then reappear behind them, giving her the final blow to their back. It’s a very useful power and it looks great on screen.

We had to figure out the technique of getting Six to appear and disappear. It was a great learning curve for me. There are some CGI elements and some physical SFX involved. It’s always challenging working against a green screen, but it was very cool.

Were you happy with the look of the character?

I am Number Four - Teresa Palmer
Number Six (Teresa Palmer) prepares to confront the enemy © 2011 DreamWorks

As soon as I got the script I had such a clear idea of who she was and what she was going to look like. Luckily, everyone else was totally on the same page. She is just such a bad-add chick. She wears low-slung, tight black jeans with a big belt and a chain dangling down. I wanted her to have a tattoo that was easily visible and a skeleton ring. She is definitely out there.

Did they let you keep anything?

No. I wanted to keep the jacket big time, but they usually hold on to the clothes just in case you have re-shoots. But hopefully, in a few months I can ring up and see if she’ll give me one. There were ten of them so she can spare one.

Number Six really kicks ass. What is it like to play a character like that?

It was very empowering to play Number Six. She’s intimidating but also I think equally as alluring, 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. Could she be a Mogadorian? And I like that about her. It was such a blessing to play such a cool character.

Number Six has been preparing herself for battle her whole life and is incredibly skilled in martial arts and sword-fighting, but she’s quirky in an introverted way. It’s a very exciting role and really different from anything I have ever done before.

Was your wardrobe easy to do stunts in or was it kind of restrictive?

I am Number Four - Teresa Palmer
Number Six (Teresa Palmer) leaves nothing behind but a path of destruction © 2011 DreamWorks

We had to make some outfits with extra stretch in them under the arms. And in between the legs we had extra stretch because I had these huge kicks that I’m doing and, in such tight pants, I can’t do that. We had lots of different copies of things.

Was the explosion all green screen or were you actually fairly close to it?

No. Movie magic.

When you’re walking away, it looks great.

What happened was I walked out of the house and I was doing my swagger and D.J. Caruso was like, ‘Go get ‘um, girl! This is your shot. Remember it’s in slow motion.’ I was like, ‘Okay.’

I was trying very hard to make it sexy and alluring but I’m wearing these high combat boots and I’m walking in sand, so I kept rolling my ankle and he was like, ‘Stop wobbling!’ Then my sunglasses would fall off and I’d trip over. Everyone was like, ‘What are you doing? This is supposed to be the iconic shot of the movie!’ The one that’s actually in the movie is probably the only take that worked!

Weren’t you impressed with how it looked in the final cut?

I was. I couldn’t believe how epic that was. It was very exciting and I think it was a very cool introduction to my character and the music by Adele comes in and it’s pumping and she’s so tough and I felt very proud of Miss Six.

Has there been any talk about a sequel?

They’ve discussed it. It just really depends on whether audiences enjoy the film and embrace it and if they do then I would welcome it with open arms. I’d feel so excited to play Number Six again and just develop her character further.