Sharlto Copley

Earlier today it was reported that District 9 star Sharlto Copley was forced to drop out of the Michael Bay/Steven Spielberg-produced D.J. Caruso-directed adaptation of James Frey and Jobie Hughes‘s teen sci-fi alien book I Am Number Four due to “scheduling conflicts with his upcoming press obligations for Fox’s The A-Team.”

As we all know, “scheduling conflicts” is more often then not public relations coverup for some sort of behind the scenes problem, and this might be no exception.

According to FilmDrunk (who has been two for two on the I Am Number Four scoops thus far), the real reason is a lot funnier.

According to the site’s sources, Sharlto Copley “wanted wear a prosthetic nose and fake ears like Spock and look like an alien in the movie, while director DJ Caruso was adamant that the aliens were supposed to look just like regular humans, hence why they’re able to fit in.” Apparently neither side would budge and Copley left the project.

As much as I like Copley (I think he deserved some nominations for his District 9 performance), I do think that his suggestions for the character’s look go against the plot presented in the book. The aliens are supposed to blend in and look human.

Here’s the plot of the novel:

I AM NUMBER FOUR focuses on the fate of nine gifted children and their guardians, the sole survivors of a bitter war on their home planet called Lorien, who have settled on Earth under the protection of a charm that means their enemies can only kill them in numeric order. Three of the nine are dead; the novel’s narrator is number Four. The nine children and their guardians evacuate to earth and the protagonist, a Lorien boy named John Smith, hides in Paradise, Ohio, as a human and tries to evade his predators.

The film stars Alex Pettyfer (Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker, Beastly) who is set to play the lead character – Four, Teresa Palmer, who will play Number Six, Timothy Olyphant will be playing the man who “hailed from the alien world’s serving class but now is the title character’s adult guardian and mentor,” and Glee star Dianna Agron who plays a character whs initially dating a jock, but she falls for Four and he confides to her the truth of his predicament. Kevin Durand (Lost, Dark Angel, Robin Hood) will play the commander of the aliens who are hunting the survivors down on Earth.

The screenplay adaptation was written by Smallville creators Al Gough and Miles Millar, which kind of makes sense if you think about it (teenage aliens that fall from space to earth?). Caruso is of course the director responsible for Taking Lives, The Salton Sea, Two for the Money and more recently, Disturbia and Eagle Eye. Bay has previously been developing the project as a potential directing gig.

The first book of the planned four six book series written by A Million Little Pieces author James Frey and Jobie Hughes, is set to hit book store shelves on August 17th, 2010. You can now preorder the 352-page book on Amazon for around $11-$12. The project was fast tracked after the release and success of District 9. Dreamworks has set a February 18th 2011 release date for the movie.

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