|April 10, 1990|
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Alexander Pettyfer was born on April 10, 1990 in Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England, UK, to Lee Robinson and Richard Pettyfer. He grew up steeped in show business, as his mother was a former talk-show host and his father a journeyman actor who worked voluminously in English television and West End stage productions, including turns with Royal Shakespeare Company and The Royal National Theatre. Though his parents split up early in his life - his mother went on to remarry property developer, Michael Ireland - Pettyfer inherited their telegenic qualities, netting modeling work at a young age which included an ad for The Gap when he was just seven. Though officially residing with his family in Windsor, he spent much of his early years in prestigious boarding schools, including The Mall School, Millfield School and Shiplake College. Pettyfer won his first professional acting job in 2005, winning the lead in a made-for-TV adaptation of Thomas Hughes' classic Victorian coming-of-age novel Tom Brown's School Days.
Pettyfer's turn as Tom Brown reputedly drew the attention of Anthony Horowitz, author of a series of novels about a teen MI6 agent named Alex Rider. Still, Pettyfer went through several rounds of auditions before winning the title role in the first film adaptation of Horowitz's work, "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" (2006). Pettyfer found himself acting alongside such established talents as Ewan McGregor, Robbie Coltrane and Mickey Rourke, playing an orphaned adolescent who finds out his uncle (McGregor) is an MI6 agent and, when the latter is murdered, is then drafted into service to complete his final mission. Though the film fared poorly with both critics and audiences, it put Pettyfer on the map for casting agents anxious for staffing up Hollywood's small-budget teen film genre. "Wild Child" (2008), the tale of a spoiled-rotten rich girl sent to a snooty English boarding school to straighten her out, would see him as the central character's tonic, playing the dreamy son of the school's headmistress. And "Torment" (2008) would see him, in turn, as the spoiled one, the fashionable Alpha of a clique of exclusionary school bullies who begin to meet unfortunate ends when a boy they drove to suicide returns from the dead to seek revenge.
As he matured from adolescent to chiseled, square-jawed youth, Pettyfer earned more and more buzz as a new Adonis, which Sony's CBS Films hoped to put on full display, albeit with some makeup, in a new twist on the old "Beauty and the Beast" fairy tale. The stylish neo-gothic romance would have Pettyfer playing a solipsistic young man who is transformed by a magical spell into a disfigured "beast" and must confront his deeper shortcomings to win the woman he loves. The film -- originally slated for a 2010 release - was pushed back to 2011, which coalesced into a veritable Pettyfer film-fest, with his next film, "I Am Number Four" (2011), scheduled for release the same year. Pettyfer was given the title role again in an anticipated franchise-starter film; that of a wayward young humanoid alien on the lam in the sci-fi outing directed by D.J. Caruso, produced by Steven Spielberg, and co-starring Tim Olyphant and "Glee" (Fox, 2009- ) star Dianna Agron - with whom Pettyfer reportedly began a romantic relationship on the set.