Up close and very personal with actor Alex Pettyfer

Alex Pettyfer, left, and Matthew McConaughey hit the gym before the stage in “Magic Mike.”

Audiences are already familiar with Alex Pettyfer after a busy year in 2011 — he appeared in “I Am Number Four,” “Beastly” and “In Time” — but they’re now able to see a lot more of him, to put it lightly, with the release of “Magic Mike.” Pettyfer stars as a newcomer to the world of male stripping taken under the wing of the titular Mike (Channing Tatum, who is also the inspiration for Pettyfer’s character). Stripping may seem like a daunting gig, but it turns out baring all didn’t bother him as much as learning to dance.

How awkward have interviews for this film been?
When you do a male stripper movie, they’re going to ask you interesting questions. So you have to take everything and bite the bullet. Yes, I think the most frequently asked question is biggest wardrobe malfunction. And I think the biggest wardrobe malfunction that you have is that when you wear a thong and you have screaming girls, it can accidentally fly off. Thank God that didn’t happen to me. It was during Matthew [McConaughey's] dance. It was kind of very funny.

Once you’ve signed up for a role like this, clearly you know what you’re in for. But how do you mentally psych yourself up for it?

It’s a very scary thought — one, to dance, as I’ve never danced before, and two, the fact that you’re going to dance practically naked. You kind of just wrap your head around the fact that you’ve got to dive into it fully. And the fact that all the other guys are in the same boat as us, doing the same thing and — apart from Channing — not having the experience beforehand and having the experiences firsthand on the set, was also very calming.

You’re not playing Channing Tatum per se, but he is the basis for your character. Having him must be …

A little awkward. [Laughs] It’s a little awkward, yeah, because obviously he’s a phenomenal dancer, for one, and you can’t compete with that. And he’s lived this life. But it actually really helped me, personally, because the awkwardness and vulnerability of not having experienced what goes on in this world was actually what my character had to experience.

You also had some enthusiastic extras on set for the dances.

They were phenomenal. I wouldn’t really call them actresses because I think they were very, very glad to be there. On most film sets with background, you have to be like, “Give more!” And with these guys, for 12 hours straight they were screaming. It just gave us the best energy. They did get out of hand. They got out of hand with Channing, and they 100 percent got out of hand with Matthew, because that was not planned [when they rush the stage during his dance]. I thankfully didn’t have any run-ins with them.

So what would you say was your least favorite dance routine costume?
   
I mean, my favorite was my least favorite because it was the hardest thing to get off. I just wanted to get it off and go for it, which is kind of funny because the first time I stripped, I wanted to keep all my clothes on. But that’s a character choice and how my character is. He eventually loves what he does. So I guess the cowboy outfit? But it was also my favorite.


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