By Oliver Lyttelton | www.oliverlyttelton.com February 1, 2011 at 2:11AM
Rising Star Turns Down 'Mortal Instruments'
With his starring role in "I Am Number Four" in a few weeks, "Beastly" next month, and Andrew Niccol's "Now" later in the year Alex Pettyfer is swiftly becoming to the sub-genre of movies-that-Amazon-recommends-when-you-order-a-copy-of-"Twilight" what Tyler Perry is to films about African-American families. Among various projects the 20-year-old actor has percolating are a biopic of racing driver James Hunt, the young-adult-aimed "Jack the Giant Killer" and, as of a couple of weeks ago, Screen Gems' adaptation of the popular "Mortal Instruments" series by Cassandra Clare, in which Pettyfer was being aggressively courted to star in as a demon hunter, alongside "The Blind Side" star Lily Collins.
At least, he was. At Vulture, where they're so on top of Alex Pettyfer news that we're beginning to suspect that they invented him, there's now a report that the young actor, for some reason not tempted by the idea of working with "Legion" director Scott Stewart, has turned down "Mortal Instruments," and is circling "The Last Apprentice," based on the book series also known as "The Wardstone Chronicles," by Joseph Delaney. The series involves Thomas J. Ward, the seventh son of a seventh son in the 1700s who discovers he has the ability to see creatures of the dark, and trains to become a 'Spook' in order to fight evil.
Russian director Sergey Bodrov ("Mongol") has long been attached to helm the film, which is set up at Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, clearly in an attempt to find a "Harry Potter" replacement, and Pettyfer is said to be both a fan of the series (which now numbers seven, with an eighth on the way, along with five spin-offs), and of Bodrov. There's some fairly impressive, Oscar-nominated talent also being courted alongside him, according to Vulture; Jeff Bridges for the role of John Gregory, Thomas' gruff mentor, and Jennifer Lawrence as Alice Deane, a young would-be witch related to villainesses Mother Malkin and Bony Lizzie.
Bridges and Lawrence are obviously hot property at the moment, and may not accept their offers (they probably get projects and scripts sent to them daily), but if they do sign on, it's certainly a more promising prospect than most of the young-adult would-be franchises out there; we'd be lying if we said the idea of Bridges channeling "Witchfinder General" wasn't an exciting one, and Bodrov is certainly a more intriguing helmer than the likes of Stewart or Gary Ross on similar projects.
It's unclear where this leaves "Mortal Instruments," however; Screen Gems exec Clint Culpepper was reported to have said that he'd only greenlight "Mortal Instruments" if they could land Pettyfer in the lead. We suspect that this was a negotiating tactic, however; it's not like there's a shortage of cheekboned pretty boys in Hollywood. There's no word on a start date for either project, but we imagine a release sometime in 2012 is being eyed for both.