EXCLUSIVE: ‘I Am Number Four’ Gets ‘Percy Jackson’ Star Jake Abel

I Am Number Four” is an intriguing project for a number of reasons. It’s an adaptation of a a young adult novel co-written by James Frey, controversial author of “A Million Little Pieces.” Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg are producing it. On top of all that, the still-growing cast includes Alex Pettyfer, Timothy Olyphant, Teresa Palmer and Kevin Durand. Now MTV has learned that one more has joined the cast: “Percy Jackson” star Jake Abel.

The story follows nine aliens who survive the destruction of their homeworld at the hands of a rival race. The group flees to Earth, where they proceed to blend in among the human populace. Trouble starts when the enemy pursues the fugitive aliens to their hiding place. Pettyfer stars as the titular Number Four, who poses as a high school student. Abel confirmed to MTV that he’ll play one of Pettyfer’s social rivals.

“Mark is a football player at the school and he’s skeptical of [Pettyer’s Number Four] because he’s trying to move in on his ex-girlfriend,” Abel said. “He’s the high school jock who’s just loaded with insecurities. He masks them with his bravado and intimidation, but he’s threatened because this new kid is coming to school and there’s a lot of attention on him. A lot is happening around him.”

Basically, Abel is playing a bully. His character won’t be central to the plot however. Eventually the scale of the thing grows far beyond the walls of a high school. “Unfortunately, I’m not really getting involved with all of the crazy sci-fi stuff,” he said.

That wasn’t always the plan, however. “In a previous draft, there was a big fight scene that Mark was a part of and I was stoked for it. It was so wicked. Then I got a new rewrite, and suddenly Mark wasn’t in a fight anymore. I was really kind of bummed by that. It would have been a lot of fun!”

Even still, Abel has been asked to bulk up for his role as the high school quarterback, and is currently working with a trainer. All under the orders of director D.J. Caruso, who, for Abel, is the main reason he wanted this gig.

“What attracted me to it was D.J. Caruso, hands down,” he explained. “I think he’s really talented and has potential to be phenomenal. When we did the reading process for the audition, the notes that he gave me, we kind of spoke the same language. I’m really excited to see how he handles the situation on set.”