Beastly - Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens
Beastly - The Beast, Kyle (Alex Pettyfer) and Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) in a scene at the Rooftop Greenhouse © 2009 CBS Films

Young heartthrobs Alex Pettyfer and Vanessa Hudgens star in an updated version of Beauty and the Beast. Based on the novel of the same name, Beastly tells the story of seventeen-year-old Kyle (Alex), an arrogant, spoiled, shallow, but incredibly popular kid in his school. Entirely captivated by his physical appearance, he’s chosen Kendra (Mary-Kate Olsen), a classmate rumored to be a witch, as his new girlfriend.

Witnessing his cruel behavior, Kendra decides to teach him a lesson and transforms him into someone who is as unattractive on the outside as he is on the inside, giving him just a year to find someone to look beyond his looks and love him, or he will remain ‘Beastly’ forever. Kyle’s only hope is to pursue his unassuming classmate Lindy (Vanessa) whom he had never noticed before.

Did you read the novel?

Beastly - Dakota Johnson, Alex Pettyfer and Erik Knudsen
Sloan (Dakota Johnson), Kyle (Alex Pettyfer), and Trey (Erik Knudsen), at the Green Committee rally © 2009 CBS Films

Alex: I read the book Beastly by Alex Flint, but obviously everyone has seen Beauty and the Beast, the musical. I actually saw the TV series with Linda Hamilton and Ron Perlman, and it was good. He had a lot of fur on!

Was it harder for you to play the arrogant guy or the vulnerable guy?

Alex: I think it was harder to play vulnerable. I think anyone can act like a jerk, that’s easy. But I think to undergo that, I call it a surgery, because it was practically a surgery every day, and become someone else and look different and feel the eyes are on you, was a very hard process.

What was it like the first time you both met?

Vanessa: We met when we did a chemistry read for the movie, and it was really exciting because we both came in, we did a few scenes and it was very creative and we just played and it was a lot of fun. We talked about music and hit it off.

When you were growing up is there anything you were self-conscious of?

Beastly - Vanessa Hudgens
Lindy (Vanessa Hudgens) © 2009 CBS Films

Vanessa: I grew up dancing a lot so I was very self-conscious of my tree trunk legs, because they get very muscular when you’re dancing every day, and I did not appreciate that at that time, but now I’ve learned to love them.

Alex: I think we’re all self-conscious at some point or another. I think it’s about growing up and becoming secure in yourself.

What was the biggest challenge doing this role?

Alex: I think the five and a half hours sitting in a chair every day. I find it hard enough to sit down for twenty minutes, so it was the make up.

Wasn’t it easier than having fur put on you?

Alex: What was explained to me was with fur it gets hot, but you still have your skin, whereas I had this rubber mask, there was seventy-five pieces that were put on and they had to spray paint it and then they had to paint over it, so basically you’ve got a whole layer of glue on your face.

And I shaved my head for the movie, so you have a whole layer of glue all over your head and it gets very claustrophobic because you touch yourself and you’re touching essentially silicone, so you can’t feel your face. And when you need to itch you can’t itch and it’s a very disturbing feeling. I know it doesn’t sound all that bad now, but when you have an itch underneath and you can’t scratch and you can’t feel anything it’s very weird.

How did you all come up with the ‘Beastly’ make up?

Beastly - Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris and Alex Pettyfer
Vanessa Hudgens, Neil Patrick Harris and Alex Pettyfer attend the World Premiere © 2009 CBS Films, Photo by Alex J Berliner/abimages

Alex: Daniel [Barnz, the director] and I went into Tony Gardner’s shop and I sat there for what must have been 16 hours and we went through it all, deciding, ‘Should we have more tattoos,’ more this, more that, and we basically came up with this concept that everything that he thought was ugly on a person would come out in him.

In the beginning of the movie he sees Kendra has this tattoo on her face and he says, ‘Oh, you’re ugly, you have this tattoo.’ And all the shards of mirror that he smashes when he’s angry would be put into his scar. I found designing it very fascinating.

Working under the mask, was it hard to adjust your eyes?

Alex: No, what was great was all the prosthetics that were attached to my face all moved with my face and it was still me. I had teeth which restrained me from talking, so my mouth didn’t open as much because he’s pained by how he looks.

Do looks count when you’re dating someone?

Vanessa: To a certain extent. I think that true beauty really is on the inside, the way that person carries himself and what they’re passionate about and what they like. I feel like if you can just relate with someone and have fun with them, that’s what really matters.

Your upcoming movie Sucker Punch looks really cool, did you feel powerful doing all that kick-ass stuff?

Beastly - Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens and Neil Patrick Harris
Alex Pettyfer, Vanessa Hudgens and Neil Patrick Harris attend the World Premiere © 2009 CBS Films

Vanessa: How can you not when you’re running around with a massive Rambo gun? It’s a pretty empowering thing, but I think the greatest part about it was working with these four other girls that had such a strong sense of who they were. When you’re put in a situation with these girls it’s like we felt unstoppable.

How does it feel to be the man of the hour right now with I Am Number Four just out and another movie opening this week?

Alex: I don’t feel like the man of the hour. I feel like I’ve just done two films that I’m very proud of and I’m excited for people to see them both. They’ve both got great messages, and this is a movie that I’ve been waiting to come out for a long time. I’m a very lucky boy to be in the business I’m in.

Judy Sloane

Judy is Film Review Online's regular Los Angeles based reporter.