Thirteen years ago, Alex Pettyfer’s provocative VMAN cover story sent shockwaves throughout the film industry, earning him the title of “Hollywood’s Next Bad Boy.” Over a decade later, with loads of life experience and lessons in between, the British actor has returned to V a gentleman. In the thick of the press tour tied to his upcoming film, The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare, Pettyfer sat down with his business partner Magnus Rausing to chat about their new production company Dark Dreams Entertainment, overcoming flying phobias, and reformed bad boy-dom.

Alex wears tuxedo RICHARD JAMES / Shirt and tie BUDD / Coat THE ROW

MAGNUS RAUSING: We always speak for hours about our favorite films and moments in Hollywood history and I’m always surprised by your answers. What do you think makes a great film?

ALEX PETTYFER: For painters, poets, writers, and many in the creative arts, there is a solitude to their process. That is not the case in filmmaking, we are reliant on the collaborative experience of everyone involved. There is a magic that has to come from a spontaneous ingredient that I don’t think anyone in our business can put their finger on. I would say when everyone is on the same mission, there is a connective energy that runs through every department, and all are putting their own ideas on the table that elevate the ideas of the project… Those experiences have always turned out to be the best films.

MR: The last time you were on the cover of VMAN, the cover title was “Hollywood’s Next Bad Boy.” Thirteen years later the title for your V cover story is “Return of the Gentleman.” What has evolved in the time since your last V cover?

Alex wears coat TOM FORD / Scarf CHARVET / Watch MONTBLANC

AP: Life! We have no choice but to grow through our experiences. There is a great saying: “You can’t put an old head on young shoulders.” I started in this industry at a very young age. In my naive youth, there was an arrogance that was clearly a symptom of insecurity. I was also incredibly ambitious—as I believed I had no fall-back plan—which puts you in survival mode. As I mentioned, filmmaking is about collaboration. It’s a community I am very grateful to be a part of, and we all need mentors and teachers. They can be vital to our journey, but you have to be open to receiving their guidance. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to have some incredible people shape the man I am today. I learned to not attach to the challenging times nor the times that present great joy— which can be hard—but to keep a balance of knowing all experiences shall pass, and that nothing stays the same.

MR: What makes a gentleman?

AP: Compassion. I believe when we have compassion for others there is a gentleness and understanding that communicates universally. I see this as a human quality rather than just a gentlemanly quality.

Alex wears all clothing HERMÈS / Belt ARTEMAS QUIBBLE / Watch MONTBLANC

MR: In addition to your talent, you’re also ambitious. That’s what got me excited to work with you on Dark Dreams Entertainment [multi-platform production company]. For me, Dark Dreams is about telling important stories through amazing cinema. What is it to you?

AP: My mission for Dark Dreams Entertainment—and, trust me, we are still learning to walk being a new company—is to find great stories and collaborate with individuals who inspire unique execution in translating narratives for the screen. I was so lucky to have Jerry Bruckheimer [producer of Top Gun and Pirates of the Caribbean] as a producer on The Ministry of Ungentlemanly Warfare. I asked him the same question you’ve asked me, so my answer replicates his: “We will always have a hunger for great stories.”

It was so exciting to see the success of Barbie and Oppenheimer helmed by two great filmmakers, both completely different films, released the same weekend and both amounting to huge success. What does that show you about the experience of going to the cinema? That there is still a hunger!

MR: What are you working on now that you are excited about?

Alex wears tuxedo RICHARD JAMES / Shirt and tie BUDD / Coat THE ROW

AP: I am currently in pre-production for a film called Blurred about a fashion photographer who has an accident, leaving him with impaired vision for an unknown period of time. His perception, which once was rich and vibrant due to his profession, now torments him, driving him mad. When you experience such a life-changing event, you are forced to look within and feel, leaving us with the question: How often do we look within? In the silence and darkness, we find our true nature, one we can’t cover with external distractions.

MR: From the stress of making a movie to the lull between projects, what do you do to stay present and sane?

Alex wears all clothing CELINE by Hedi Slimane / Bag MONTBLANC

AP: I’d never say my experience making a movie is stressful. Obviously, I get nervous through preparation while trying to discover the character, but when those first couple of days of filming pass, there is no place I’d rather be than on set. It is a miracle to get any film made, so I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given to expand my craft. The balance between projects has been a journey in itself, one that has been very personal and profound for me. I always say that I feel grounded being at home—sitting in the garden, painting, cooking—but after a week or so I want to go on an adventure and meet new people or learn something new.

I absolutely loved Anthony Bourdain, and maybe some part of the desire in my travels has been inspired by him, though I’m not getting paid to make one of the greatest travel shows ever. I developed a fear of flying around thirteen, which shaped a lot of my decisions in my twenties, also restricting me from opportunities in my career. The interesting thing about fear is it forces you to look within. Every time I have to fly, it is a gentle reminder of the progress I’m making in my life and reminds me that the journey only takes one step at a time.

This story appears in the pages of V148: now available for purchase!

Photography Nathaniel Goldberg

Fashion George Cortina

Editor-In-Chief / Creative Direction Stephen Gan

Makeup Tom Pécheux (Safe Management)

Hair Joseph Pujalte (Bryant Artists)

Manicure Christina Conrad (Callisté)

Producer Michael Lacomblez (Louis2)

Production manager Ambre Silvestre (Louis2)

Digital technician Rebecca Liévre (Imagin Productions)

Lighting technician Mathilde Barniaud

Photo assistants Corinne Mutrelle, Aurélien Nobécourt

Stylist assistants Peter Aluuan, Malou Beaumont, Samuel Tosi

Makeup assistant Megumi Itano

Hair assistant Flavien Hymonnet

Production assistant Mathilde Barniaud (Louis2)

Location Espace Lumiere / La Maison 

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