Some people may argue that nothing good ever came out of the ’80s, but we beg to differ. The Transformers range of toys – featuring cars and planes that become robots with the aid of a few moving parts – made its debut in 1984; actress Megan Fox was born in 1986. As two of the biggest things to emerge from the decade of Rubik’s Cubes and hairspray, it seems only fitting that both should be reunited on the big screen for Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, out this month.
In fact, it was the first Transformers movie, released in 2007, that brought Megan Fox to the attention of the world. Without it, the until-then struggling actress wouldn’t have landed roles in upcoming movies like Jonah Hex or Fathom, and she would also not have topped FHM magazine’s 100 Sexiest Women list in 2008 (No 2 in 2009). She owes the robots in disguise something of a debt, and gearing up for a sequel just two years later is the payback. But is that the only reason? ‘Well, once we saw how much money it made,’ she says of the first film, ‘we figured we would be back. Plus the characters are so young – nobody wants to see Sam and Mikaela when they are 30 – so we had to get it done now.’
Fox, of course, refers to the movie’s human characters – her own, Mikaela Banes, and geeky onscreen boyfriend Sam Witwicky, played by Shia LeBeouf, who is stuck in the middle of an intergalactic war between the Autobots (the good Transformers) and the Decepticons (the bad ones). So is it tough to build a relationship with giant robots hanging around? ‘It’s two years later between Sam and Mikaela, so you sort of miss the build of the romance, it has happened off screen already,’ Fox reveals. ‘So you cut to them having been in a relationship. They are not bored, but they bicker and fight with each other. Like old married people.’
But you have to think of the movie’s target audience, who are expecting explosions, fights and lots of action rather than an in-depth love story. And it sounds like that’s exactly what we’ll be getting. ‘I am pretty sure we never had a day of shooting when we were not running,’ says Fox. ‘We were shooting in New Mexico at the White Sands, and Shia and I would have to run up the dune and then slide and run back down it. And we did that four times in a row. My back was hurting; I am pretty sure that one of my lungs was collapsing. You have to be in good shape.’
Good shape indeed, but it was director Michael Bay’s alleged request for Fox to gain weight for the role that saw the movie hitting the headlines for the wrong reasons, a point the actress is quick to defend. ‘I had lost weight for a movie I did called Jennifer’s Body, in which I play a zombie, so she goes through phases where she is extremely thin,’ she reveals. ‘But Michael doesn’t like the image of very thin girls; he likes healthy women, so I had to put weight back on. I didn’t mind because I have a healthy appetite. I put the weight on by eating this stuff called red velvet cake – it’s red cake with cream cheese icing, and it’s amazing. I would eat that every night after my dinner at 10.30pm.’
As well as the physical challenges, there were those faced in terms of trying to interact with a big robot that won’t actually be added on film until the guys in charge of the computer graphics have done their job at the end of production. ‘If it’s a huge dialogue scene, they hire voice actors who are off-camera,’ Fox explains. ‘It’s hard to not look at them when they are talking to you, and to look at the pole [which represents the robot]. But often it’s the assistant director who will do the voices. There is a new character with a really high, gargoyle-like voice, and he had to do a whole scene with me when he was screaming. We have B-roll of that.’
Of the new characters, we wonder if she is referring to The Fallen – an apocalyptic god-like robot bigger than all of the others (including the 20 or so new ones introduced), and believed to be one of the original Transformers, somehow resurrected to wreak havoc on Earth. Will all of the robots, good and bad, team up to stop him? The action spans the globe, with the finale taking place at the Pyramids in Egypt. ‘It is such a cool location to be a part of,’ Fox confirms. ‘I heard – and I don’t know if it’s true – that we were the only film since the 1930s to be allowed to shoot there. It’s amazing that with all of our technology and computers, we still can’t explain how the Pyramids were built.’
Rumour has it, one theory will be expressed in the movie – that giant robots from space put them there, but don’t let that put you off. On his blog recently, Michael Bay revealed he had shown a cut of the film to its executive producer, Steven Spielberg, who reportedly said: ‘It’s awesome.’ So while we ponder what else the Transformers might have built, it’s time to ask Megan if she thinks there will be a third or fourth instalment. ‘Sure,’ she replies. ‘After we re-charge our batteries, yeah. They are fun movies to make.’
Fun – and if the first is anything to go by – profitable. But let’s not forget our earlier point that without Transformers Megan wouldn’t be where she is today. ‘I had never left the country before I made Transformers,’ she confirms. ‘I had to get a passport to do the tour for the film. And it was my first movie. I was so scared. But the more you work, the less fear you have, and the more honest you can be on camera.’ In a word, transformed.
• Filming on the sequel began just one day after the original won the MTV Movie Award for Best Movie
• Actor Shia LeBeouf had a real-life car crash during the shoot, and his injuries were worked into the script
• Director Michael Bay’s cousin is married to Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy. Bay originally wanted Nimoy to provide the voice of The Fallen
• Some of the new Transformers that appear in this film were selected by fans in an online poll
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is released in cinemas on June 25.