Alex Pettyfer’s first forray into directing through Back Roads gave him a new perspective on movie production.

“Stepping into the role of being a filmmaker and having a different perspective is a collaborative experience, and everyone’s putting their heart into the film,” Pettyfer told uInterview exclusively. “Working with people — like the grips and sounds, the production design, the actors — everyone’s so invested into putting their take and their touch, and it’s a humbling experience, because you really realize that to make a film, it’s a collaboration. It’s a family. It’s everyone putting themselves into it, and so that was a very humbling experience. I really enjoyed that.”

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Pettyfer became involved in the project after his first time producing.

“About two, maybe two and a half years ago, I got the opportunity to produce something at HBO and it gave me the confidence to kind of want to go and produce more things, and I’d always thought about Back Roads as a film. I thought it was a very important piece of material, and something that I loved. So I reapproached the producer that had the rights, and I said, ‘I would love to be a part of this, to produce,’” Pettyfer said. “I went out to directors — two directors, two very good directors — who both said yes, but through unfortunate events couldn’t make the film. So out of that circumstance, I ended up in the director’s chair, which I feel very lucky about.”

Two of the film’s stars, Jennifer Morrison and Nicola Peltz, enjoyed working with Pettyfer as a director.

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“I mean, the reason I was so drawn to the film was from the conversation we had about the film and his visual plan and his passion for it and how he saw the film, and he’s savante-y talented,” Morrison told uInterview exclusively. “He really is, and it’s in multiple things, not just filmmaking. He’s also an artist and it’s just anything, he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, no sure yeah I just painted that thing.’ And you’re like, ‘What?’ And he has an incredible way with actors. I think because he is an actor, he knows exactly how to present an idea without it feeling like it’s in your way. It was always adding to what was going on, so it was great.”

Peltz had a similar sentiment to Morrison.

“Alex was an amazing director to work with,” Peltz said to uInterview. “He did trust me in a way where it felt amazing as an actor to feel like you could be on a set and take risks and just give it your all, and like they said, just leave everything out there. When you’re on a bigger film, sometimes you don’t get the privilege to do things like that, so that was amazing.”

Read uInterview’s full, exclusive interview with Morrison, Pettyfer and Peltz below.

How did you become involved in this project?

Alex Pettyfer: About two, maybe two and a half years ago, I got the opportunity to produce something at HBO and it gave me the confidence to kind of want to go and produce more things, and I’d always thought about ‘Back Roads’ as a film. I thought it was a very important piece of material, and something that I loved. So I reapproached the producer that had the rights, and I said, ‘I would love to be a part of this, to produce.’

I went out to directors — two directors, two very good directors — who both said yes, but through unfortunate events couldn’t make the film. So out of that circumstance, I ended up in the director’s chair, which I feel very lucky about.

Can you describe your characters in the film?

Jennifer Morrison: Yeah, I play Callie Mercer, who’s a neighbor who lives down the street from where the whole family’s living. Alex’s character is looking after his three sisters because his mother’s in jail, his father’s dead and it’s set in a small town, so it sort of feels like everyone knows each other. My character’s very aware of him and his situation, and she definitely feels like if she can help in a certain way she wants to. She’s also living in her own repression [and] in a way is not necessarily happy with the life she’s chosen, and the connection she feels with Alex’s character turns into this kind of torrid affair they’re having. Which is complicated, because I think there’s real feelings there. There’s also some kind of fantasy being played out in her mind of the life she doesn’t have and wished she could have.

Nicola Peltz: I play Amber, Alex’s — er, Harley’s — little sister. Amber is a very external character. You see her and you think she’s very loud and bitchy and all this stuff, but the reason I really love playing her is because she has so much going on internally, and she’s really just her and she had a really, to say the least, hard upbringing, and a damaged upbringing, and you can see how that affects a person. And it’s almost like when something happens to you at a young age it’s like it stunts her. So in some ways she’s so immature.

What was the most memorable scene for you to play?

JM: We had so many scenes that I really enjoyed doing. I feel like there was something really magical about the scene in the grocery store parking lot. It was just something nice about all the things that are going on. It’s like, she’s being such a natural mom with her kids — like, ‘Oh buddy, stop it.’ —  you know, kind of torn between that and everything that had happened the night before that’s so unspoken between them and the conversation secretly outside the car while the kids are in the car and what they’re talking about, and, I don’t know, there was something really kind of subtle and simple about it, but there was so much stewing under the surface of it. It was a really fun scene to play around with.

How as Alex as a director?

JM: Do you have your earmuffs? No, Alex is great. I mean, the reason I was so drawn to the film was from the conversation we had about the film and his visual plan and his passion for it and how he saw the film, and he’s savante-y talented. He really is, and it’s in multiple things, not just filmmaking. He’s also an artist and it’s just anything, he’s like, ‘Oh yeah, no sure yeah I just painted that thing.’ And you’re like, ‘What?’ And he has an incredible way with actors. I think because he is an actor, he knows exactly how to present an idea without it feeling like it’s in your way. It was always adding to what was going on, so it was great.

AP: You don’t have to boost my ego. She did that.

NP: I won’t.

Alex was an amazing director to work with. He did trust me in a way where it felt amazing as an actor to feel like you could be on a set and take risks and just give it your all, and like they said, just leave everything out there. When you’re on a bigger film, sometimes you don’t get the privilege to do things like that, so that was amazing.

What was your biggest takeaway after working on this film?

AP: Stepping into the role of being a filmmaker and having a different perspective is a collaborative experience, and everyone’s putting their heart into the film. Working with people — like the grips and sounds, the production design, the actors — everyone’s so invested into putting their take and their touch, and it’s a humbling experience, because you really realize that to make a film, it’s a collaboration. It’s a family. It’s everyone putting themselves into it, and so that was a very humbling experience, I really enjoyed that.