I Am Number Four : Timothy Olyphant


Q: You were a late addition, how did you get involved in the project and what led you to being back in high school?
Tim Olyphant: The good people, whoever makes these decisions at DreamWorks, offered it to me. I read it and I thought it was a fun part, had a talk with D.J. on the phone and we were off and running.

Q: Obviously D.J. brought you on the project, what was it that drew you to Henri?
Olyphant: There was something fun there, I thought there was something fun to play. I liked the relationship between Henri and John. It seemed like it, I was just very fond of that relationship.

Q: I know that this is based on a soon-to-be-released book and I have not read it and I apologize. Did you read the book?
Olyphant: No.

Q: Have there been any hints from D.J. or the writers about subtleties of your character that may be in the book that may not be obvious in the movie?
Olyphant: Basically, the process was when I read it I had a very specific take on what I would like to do with it. I had that conversation with D.J. and we were on the same page about what I was talking about and we just kept poking around in that area. We talked about the book a little bit in terms of the source material and what was to important to honor, because I am not in the know in terms of the novel on occasion if I have an idea, it occurs to me that we have a source material that I don’t know if I am going in that direction. If I have an idea that goes outside of what’s on the page and I say “you know I know it’s not in the script but here is what I would like to do.” I also need to ask and how does that relate to the book and obviously even though I haven’t read the book, others have and I am in a position to be able to ask the questions.

Q: If you don’t mind can you talk a little bit about your character?
Olyphant: His name is Henri, and basically, Alex Pettyfer’s character John Smith, I am his guardian, my job is to keep him alive.

Q: From what I understand there are 6 or 9 people and they are placed all around the planet. So your character is based in the same town?
Olyphant: No, I am his guardian, I go wherever he goes, I am there to care for him and to protect him and to train him and to help him survive and get to a place where he is strong enough to survive on his own.

Q: What is it like working with Alex?
Olyphant: He is a good kid, I like working with Alex.

Q: What are your powers?
Olyphant: I can’t find any, I haven’t seen any so far. Sad, but true. I tend to just think about the character, I haven’t really thought so much about the genre and the stuff that I am doing is very organic and very human, but there is super human strength and power that the kid possesses and whatnot, and that stuff is a lot of fun, the action, the effects.

Q: What kind of research did you do for the character. Did they give you some kind of bio, did you follow it?
Olyphant: D.J. and I have been engaged in a dialogue, a collaboration from the jump, most of the choices that were made were based on the script and the conversations between D.J. and I.

Q: How did you prepare for this and is your process the same on all your projects?
Olyphant: It is more or less the same, we are playing the same game so I think the only thing that changes is the tone of the material and the world that you are playing in and then its like, it also depends on… Then it’s different things, “Justified” was a much different animal and my commitment to it was so thorough and big and committed, because I had the opportunity to be invested to it in a way. In this I am a supporting player, and I approach the job accordingly, it’s not my movie, and it’s not my story and I am here to support the overall thing and you have to figure out how you can best do that. With the “Crazies,” and “Justified” that’s an opportunity to not only work on the character but on the whole piece does that make sense.

Q: Do we see you when you have been on Earth for a period of time?
Olyphant: Our story picks up in the middle – it’s not an origin story. We are in the thick of it.

Q: As John’s protector are you able to help him develop his powers, learn about his powers?
Olyphant: That’s right, if and when they come, I am there to help him with that and mentor him with that and help him understand it. That is basically it, essentially it is about parenting. You are basically trying to get this kid in a position where he can survive on his own. Like any good parent you are trying to get the kid in a position where he is stronger and more powerful, and able to achieve things that you couldn’t.

Q: Because he is his guardian and he is protecting him, is it a father/son relationship or more like a brother?
Olyphant: It’s a little bit of all of those things you know. All those things wrapped up into one, there is a father/son relationship, there is – although it is not easy because I don’t think Henri is that accessible to John as John would like, there is also a bit of a coach/teacher student that kind of thing, which I really like as well, it is like a father/coach situation which is a tough situation when your dad is your coach, but that is the fun of it.

Q: Do you have kids of your own? Do you find yourself bringing that into the story?
Olyphant: I find myself bringing everything that is at my disposal into all my roles. This one is no different.

Q: Obviously, the rest of the cast are a younger, teenage cast. Do you find yourself as an actor being sort of like a mentor to them?
Olyphant: I have been around for a while so I know my way around set, but my relationship has really been with Alex, he’s a great guy, I am having a great time, I love working with D.J. He’s great and also Guillermo Navarro who is just unbelievable. I am really enjoying watching the two of them work and being a part of that collaboration.

Q: D.J. has done a lot of action, you have done a lot of action, and this movie has some action. How involved is your character in the action in the film?
Olyphant: A little bit. Most of it is shot in little pieces but I haven’t really seen anything.

Q: Talk about working with D.J. He’s got a really unique eye, is he a really good actor’s director?
Olyphant: He’s been great, he is a lovely guy, I really like him, there is a great vibe on set, he creates a really nice environment to work in, extremely collaboration and I have really enjoyed our back and forth in terms of fleshing out his character and scene by scene, the dialogue with him has been really great.

Q: For action roles and for action scenes like this, how much preparation do you put in or do you have a lot of this down already?
Olyphant: It depends. Most of what we are doing here, from what I’ve seen I don’t know that it requires too much additional training, but the stuff that I have seen is really great, not to take anything away from it. I don’t think I will have be spending too many of my off-days working on it.

Q: How long have you been on this? As a supporting player, do you have to be here the whole time?
Olyphant: No, I come and go. I have been coming and going, I was here the first week of shooting, it’s a come and go situation.

Q: Kevin Durand is obviously a big force to be reckoned with. Is there a big face-off between you guys.
Olyphant: I can’t tell you that. He is really great though – I have liked his work for a while so it is nice to have him be a part of this thing.

Q: I have heard that he, aside from being tall, they have him on stilts?
Olyphant: Those guys are big and he is already quite imposing as it is. The bad guys are scary.

Q: You did “The Crazies” with Breck Eisner and he is working on the “Escape From New York” remake. There are talks that he might be bringing you in to play Snake Plissken, is there any truth in that?
Olyphant: You know Breck and I are good friends and I would hope and trust that I would get the chance to work with him again, and hopefully frequently. I really have a great deal of respect for him as a director and as a person and I really value our relationship and the creative collaboration we had on the “Crazies” I hope is just beginning, it felt like we had just scratched the surface on that film, and we talk often and I think that we are without question both looking for something to do together.

Q: Do you think that you will try to find something else or is “Escape From New York” something that is quite likely.
Olyphant: I hope and trust he feels the same way I do, that we are hoping to find something to do together, what that is I don’t know, but I look forward to it.

Q: You started with film, then you moved into television so is your television your hiatus from movies or is it the other way, because a lot of times you are in a series you can only shoot movies when you are in a hiatus.
Olyphant: That show only took 5 months to shoot and we wrapped that show a couple of months ago and we don’t go back to shooting until September. I don’t think of it in either or those terms, I just think of it as though I know, assuming the sky doesn’t fall, that some time after labor day I have a job.

Q: Other than that, do you have any other things coming up?
Olyphant: Nothing that I will be starting. I have things coming out, but I don’t have anything that I am planning on shooting between now and the second season of “Justified.”

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