The Autobots and the Decepticons are the nominal stars of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” the second film in the series, opening June 24. But the human cast, assembled by director Michael Bay, is at the heart of the film.
Assembling last week in Beverly Hills to discuss the movie, much of the attention fell on Megan Fox, whose career has soared in the two years since she starred in the first “Transformers” film. Fox says she’s grateful for the opportunities the success of “Transformers” has brought to her.
“I just did ‘Jonah Hex’ with Josh Brolin and Michael Fassbinder and John Malkovich,” she says. “Actors in general don’t get those opportunities and for me to have that is a huge blessing and that’s because of the success of this movie.”
Fox says she’s not exactly comfortable with seeing herself on screen as a sex symbol, but says she trusts Bay to make the right call — especially when it comes to things like her wardrobe. “I have like 18 different outfits, and it was white jean shorts and pink belly shirts and motorcycle boots,” she says. “I had no say, but clearly he has an eye for what should be and not be in the movie, so I just trust him.”
While Fox and Isabel Lucas offer plenty of eye candy for the boys, Bay says the humor and the relationship between Fox’s Mikaela Banes and star Shia LeBeouf’s Sam Witwicky is at least part of the reason female fans show up.
“Most women hone in on the humor,” says Bay. “But there are a lot of young women who say, ‘I just want to see robots kicking ass’ — I’ve heard that before.”
The film has several sequences shot and finished in the native IMAX format. Folks who see the film in the big-screen format will get a little bonus of about a minute more footage. The extra shots expand slightly a key fight scene in a forest and the final showdown with the Devastator, he says.
The involvement of the U.S. military in the making of the movie again saw the actors working closely with soldiers.
“They’re all extremely chivalrous and very respectful,” says Fox. “They’re so much better behaved than the rest of the cast is — including myself! They listen and take direction really well.”
Tyrese Gibson and Josh Duhamel, both of who reprise their roles as soldiers in the sequel, again enjoyed working with the film’s military consultants.
“I worked closely with someone called a CCT, which is a combat controller, because I have to have dialogue to communicate with all of the aircraft,” says Gibson. “We gotta make sure that we cater to the real authentic dialog of the Air Force but yet create a balance that the common folks who don’t understand that language could understand it too. It was a bit of a challenge, especially with all of the explosions and stuff going on around.”
Duhamel says that his role was much more serious this time around, making a comedic scene in which he tosses the president’s national security advisor out the back of the plane — with a parachute. “It was a fun scene to do and it was a nice little stunt,” he says.
The physical nature of the shoot took its toll on the cast in the shape of numerous bumps, bruises and more serious injuries. Ramon Rodriguez, who joins the franchise as hacker entrepreneur Leo, says he popped a shoulder while filming a key scene in which the Devastator is sucking up everything around him — including Leo.
“I had sand, soot and dirt blowing in my face, and I had two guys behind me with wires attached to my ankles pulling me,” he says. “We brought two cars and we literally had them attached to a hydraulic crane, flipped them two inches above my head. So the guys are yanking the cables on my ankles and on one of the takes my shoulder popped out — and we continued rolling.”
While many actors struggle with acting opposite digital characters that only come to life later in the filmmaking process. Fox, however, says those scenes were much easier on the sequel and even became fun to shoot.
“It was definitely easier because we’ve seen them at this point,” says Fox. “Once you’re able to visualize something it’s a lot easier to sort of fake interact with it.”
While the actors say the set was a fun place to be despite the heavy workload, there was one subject too serious to ignore — LeBeouf’s hand injury, sustained in an auto accident last summer.
Bay says he learned of the incident from CNN and only had to shut down for a day while the production schedule was adjusted. He then had a unique cast made for the actor of Kevlar that was so thin it could easily be photographed.
“The problem was, if he was to jam his fingers, he could lose his fingers forever,” says Bay. “So we had experts from all over the world come up with this design and we were very lucky because we had shot a lot of the beginning of the movie and were right at a turning point.”
Production on the film went down to the wire, with the IMAX version of the film being completed less than two weeks before the film’s U.S. premiere. The cast themselves have only just seen the film, and say they’re impressed with the results.
“I usually don’t watch myself — I don’t look at playback, I don’t look at still photos — I have a phobia of it,” says Fox. “But I was really, really pleasantly surprised and halfway through ... I wanted to hug Michael because I had gratitude for him for making this movie because it so far surpassed my expectations.”