As star-is-born moments go, Megan Fox’s was a doozy. About 25 minutes into 2007’s “Transformers,” the curvy sex bomb, dressed in a denim miniskirt and a cropped tank top revealing miles of midriff, leaned over the engine of Shia LaBeouf’s car. Folks might have walked in expecting to see the Autobots and Decepticons, but they walked out talking about ... that girl.
Now the 23-year-old Tennessee native is reprising her role as brassy Mikaela Banes in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” (due June 24), and has two more films on the way. Off screen, she’s graced numerous magazine covers in come-hither poses, unleashing the kinds of provocative quotes that give publicists cardiac infarctions. Not that that’s shutting her up.
When we met up with Fox poolside in Los Angeles last week, she greeted us in a bikini top under a white T-shirt, snug sweatpants and dark aviator sunglasses.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: “Transformers” turned you into an overnight star. Looking back, how do you feel about the movie? MEGAN FOX: I’m terrible in it. It’s my first real movie and it’s not honest and not realistic. The movie wasn’t bad, I just wasn’t proud about what I did.
What percentage of your range have people seen so far? Seven percent. On the new one, I tried. But unless you’re a seasoned veteran, working with Michael Bay is not about an acting experience.
What was it like the first time you worked with him? I was actually an extra on “Bad Boys II” (in 2003). There’s a club scene, and I was one of the club kids. I was in a stars-and-stripes bikini and a cowboy hat, dancing under a waterfall.
Wait, what? Yeah, I was still in ninth grade. I liked it at the time, because I was getting out of school. So I was like, F--- yeah, I don’t care! And I got paid extra because if you allow them to put water on you, you get paid extra. I got probably $600.
How did you feel about being sexualized like that when you were 15? I thought it was awesome. I was going to a Christian high school and I wasn’t a feminist yet. I hadn’t sat back and analyzed society yet. I was 15! I just did what I was told to do.
What did your parents think? My mom was with me! I was always übersexual, so she wasn’t shocked. I was always wearing the smallest clothes I could find. I would go to the mall like that — in a short, short skirt and a giant wedge heel. That’s what you do when you’re a teenage girl in a small town.
Were you rebellious as a teen? I would steal my mom’s car because I was always grounded and she would never drive me anywhere.
When you were how old? (Laughs) Fourteen.
You’re a bigger star now than when you did the first “Transformers.” Did they beef up your role in the sequel? The humans are still secondary to the robots because it’s a movie about robots. I feel like the part is adequate. I feel like we do something that’s watchable on our end and then ILM makes it phenomenal.
You don’t sound convinced that this is the greatest movie on earth. It’s not trying to be the greatest movie on earth. It’s going to be the best action movie of the summer. Hands down, it will win that. But it’s not trying to be a Golden Globe-nominated film. It’s a badass popcorn summer movie.
You up for a third “Transformers”? Sure. I mean, I can’t s--- on this movie because it did give me a career and open all these doors for me. But I don’t want to blow smoke up people’s ass. People are well aware that this is not a movie about acting. And once you realize that, it becomes almost fun because you can be in the moment and go, “All right, I know that when he calls Action! I’m either going to be running or screaming, or both.”
Are you happy with the kinds of roles you’re getting offered now? I get offered some outrageous s---, like “Bikini Summer Camp Island,” or whatever.
Do you think you’re a good actress? I think I could be. If I really buckle down, I think one day I could be a very good actress. But so far, I haven’t done anything yet.
Then why are people so obsessed with you and hiring you for movies? I can’t figure that out. I mean, “Transformers” made $700 million and that opened a door to introduce this “new girl,” and I happened to be such an outrageous personality that people wanted to start writing about me because it was deemed controversial. I think if I had been a typical Hollywood actress and I said all the right things and I had been a publicity android, it wouldn’t have escalated to this level.
Is all the attention mysterious? Yes. I don’t feel like I had to climb a ladder, so it doesn’t feel like I’ve earned it.
When you were growing up and wanting to be an actress, you must have wanted to be famous one day, right? Well, yeah, because that’s how you measure success in Hollywood, really. But you have no idea what this life is like until you are living it. I used to sit back and think, “Please, Britney Spears has the best life ever — she has everything she could ever want!” But she has one of the worst lives. Her life is a living f---ing nightmare. I have panic attacks thinking about her life.
The paparazzi follow you, too. Well, I don’t have it as bad as some people. I’m thankful that it’s still at this level. It will either get better or it will get worse. And hopefully by the time it gets worse, I’ll be making enough so that I can have a f---ing security team to get me in and out of places.
That sounds depressing. But that’s what the industry is, and I got myself into it. I don’t regret it because I couldn’t be doing anything else.
You’ve only done a couple of movies, so you’re still mostly known as a sex symbol rather than an actress. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t know why someone would complain about that. That just means that the bar has been set pretty low. People don’t expect me to do anything that’s worth watching. So I can only be an overachiever. I think all women in Hollywood are known as sex symbols. That’s what our purpose is in this business. You’re merchandised, you’re a product. You’re sold and it’s based on sex. But that’s okay. I think women should be empowered by that, not degraded.
Do you think you’re good-looking? Well, I’m clearly not ugly.
And you’ve got a lot of confidence. I think most people are extremely insecure. As far as girls go, I have a really badass personality. I’m smart and I can be really funny and interesting and I can go toe-to-toe with anybody in a conversation. So I’m not afraid to speak, and I think that’s what people read as this überconfidence. I have a mouth and I’m not afraid to use it.
You’ve said you don’t have to use big words in interviews just to show you’re smart, like Scarlett Johansson does. That was taken out of context. It made it sound like I was suggesting she’s pretentious. She’s clearly book-smart and she allows people to see that every time she opens her mouth. And I was suggesting that for me to do that — people would receive it as though I was being pretentious. Not that she was! I would never talk s--- about her.
There are some actresses who started out as sex symbols and went on to serious careers. Is that your goal? Like who?
Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron... Angelina Jolie was always a Method actress. She’d been nominated for Golden Globes before she ever did “Tomb Raider.”
Okay, well, do you think you have a “Monster” in you down the road? I think that I’m so psychotic and so mentally ill that if I could tap into that I could do something really interesting.
There have been a lot of comparisons between you and Angelina Jolie. I think it’s a lack of creativity on the media’s part. Because I have tattoos and dark hair and I was in an action movie? That’s as far as the similarities extend. I’m not the next anyone.
You’ve said you’re afraid of her. I was joking! She always seems otherworldly in her power and her confidence. I’m sure she has no idea who I am. But if I were her, I’d be like, “Who the f--- is this little bulls--- brat who was in ‘Transformers’ that’s going to be the next me?” I don’t want to meet her; I’d be embarrassed.
Women seem to have an issue with you. Do you get that impression? Sure, for the same reason they didn’t like me in high school. I come across as confident and they assume that means that I think I’m hot s---. And that makes them feel bad about themselves and so they hate me.
How did you feel when topless photos of you from your next movie, “Jennifer’s Body,” were published online? Well, I wasn’t topless. I had booby stickers on. They make these silicone stickers that go on over your nipple. If I’d been actually topless, I would have sued someone. But that’s a really unfortunate thing that happened. I know who (alerted the paparazzi) and I never did anything about it. It’s her karma to deal with, not mine.
There was also a photo of you in a crazy corset on the set of “Jonah Hex.” That wasn’t even laced up all the way.
Whoa. Why? Because it looked crazy small?
Yeah. You looked like an alien. (Laughs) When we did the screen test, it was laced up all the way and people were concerned for me because it looked like some circus-freak s---.
Are you missing ribs? No. (Laughs) I just have a small-ass waist. My waist was 22 inches before we put the corset on, and we got it down to 19.
Earlier this afternoon, you mentioned Brian Austin Green. There are always rumors about you guys. Brian and I are not engaged, because when you’re engaged, your goal is marriage. And I don’t think that’s a realistic goal for me right now. I know I’m not capable at this point in my life of being a good partner or a good wife. That’s like a joke. We’re sort of trying to figure out what our relationship is.
He’s older than you. And you’ve said younger guys are a waste of time. I don’t understand why people don’t have a f---ing sense of humor. Always assume that I’m being sarcastic. Like when I said those things about “High School Musical.” I didn’t really mean that it’s about pedophilia. But if you get high and you watch it, that is what that f---ing movie is about!
Did you watch that high? Yes, and it blew my mind.
You also said that when you go to Hollywood parties you feel like chum to these creepy older guys... I notice them circling me and deciding what their plan of attack is going to be, and I think that’s because I have this image of this little sex kitten — this oversexed wild child. So they think that I’m ready to throw down. And so everybody wants to try and, like, get in there. And I’m actually not that way at all.
Your first film was the 2001 Olsen twins straight-to-DVD movie “Holiday in the Sun.” Have you watched it lately? Oh, f--- no! I would kill myself!
You were also in 2004’s “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” with Lindsay Lohan. What was she like back then? That was pre-nightmare. We didn’t get along, but we were, like, 17, so of course we didn’t get along. Girls are catty; they don’t like each other.
Looking ahead, where would you like to see your career in five years? What’s the best-case scenario? If I’m still making “Transformers” five years from now, I might not be so überexcited. But there’s nothing specific that I need to accomplish. I just want to still be working.
What’s the worst-case scenario? Umm...that I’d be on “The Hills”?