Quint's interview with TRANSFORMERS star Shia LaBeouf!!!
Published at: Sept. 9, 2006, 1:14 a.m. CST by staff
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with the interview I conducted with young Shia LaBeouf on the set of TRANSFORMERS (click here to read my report from the set!). I've had bad experiences with onset interviews before. Usually actors and directors are, understandably, focused on doing their work and are more annoyed than usual when they have to stop and talk to the likes of me. The interviews are usually grabbed between set-ups and are rushed, short and uncomfortable. So, you could imagine my surprise when I was more than a half hour into this interview with LaBeouf and you can further imagine my shock when we finally stopped 45 minutes after I met him.
As you'll find below LaBeouf had a lot to say about tons of things. His character, people's perceptions of Michael Bay, working with effects, his perceptions of Michael Bay, the story line, the original cartoons and the project as a whole. The interview felt refreshingly uncensored, his comments and points coming across as very authentic and honest. You'll also find more information about the story, his character and the characters of the other actors than most people close to the project would comment on. There are some spoilers if you want to stay virginal for Mr. Bay's popcorn actioneer next summer.
I was introduced to LaBeouf on the street Bay was using to shoot a sequence of TRANSFORMERS. I didn't see Shia work the day I was there, but he was totally made up and in costume. Very roughed up, covered in dirt, with some fresh cuts and scrapes on his face. We did half the interview on the street and had to relocate for the second half. We started talking about what a Michael Bay set is like and I told him about my first experience on one of his sets, with my New Mexico set visit back in May where Bay had the Air Force at his beck and call, sending jet after jet over the set as tons of shit blew up on the ground (click here to read that visit!). The interview begins here. Enjoy the chat!!!!
QUINT: It was kind of the perfect introduction to a Michael Bay set.
SHIA LABEOUF: It is, it is. That's how my whole thing started, just as you would imagine it. You know, "Welcome to a Michael Bay set."
QUINT: What was that welcome?
SHIA LABEOUF: I'm not used to this, you know? I mean, the actors and directors I've worked for and with have never been this. This is a new world. Whether it be good or bad, people take from it what they want. There's an audience for this regardless if people want to... You know, the people who are the protectors of the righteousness of film aren't Michael Bay fans and that's understood. His eye, his visual eye is spectacular. I mean, as far as what he films... it's unparalleled. I mean, he films things that people don't film. But when you start comparing it to things that are incomparable, you know? I've had friends who are like, "He's not an actor's director," but how do you compare an actor's director? He's very freeing, he allows tons of freedom, so it depends on the actor and for me it's enjoyable.
He's allowed me to be free, which also means it's not protected and it's dangerous, but it's all you and it's hard to have an opinion of your own work. The goal of the actor, at least coming on to a set, is to have trust and be able to know that the opinion of the director is solely on him in the moments that are necessary, but it's so big that it's impossible to expect that.
QUINT: Well, nothing seems to be too big for this guy. If he needs an army or their weapons, he goes out and gets them to cooperate...
SHIA LABEOUF: Yep, right. Right. But when you look at it recruiting numbers go up when movies like this come out. It's very political, you know? And when you realize the magnitude of what you're making, it is kind of like, "Oh, my God!" I've done that a couple of times.
I mean, at first you make it either a business decision or a creative move and then you get here and it's a whole different thing and you realize you're in this special little club, you know? At least for me, this is historical American folklore. It's historical. I mean, I have friends that haven't read the Bible, but have read comic books. And comic book movies are that for us, at least for my generation. It's folklore, it's mythology. Religion is dead and this is the shit that people eat up, this is what we eat up!
So, working on it, you realize the magnitude of what you're working on, especially when every friend that you have on this planet is like, "Oh, where's fuckin' Bumblebee? What's he look like?" You just feel very minimal when you're on this set.
QUINT: Did you know the cartoon when you were growing up?
SHIA LABEOUF: For me, growing up it was Yogi Bear and TRANSFORMERS: THE MOVIE. That was my shit, you know? I would just sit and watch that over and over and over. Everybody has that one movie they just... That was my thing, man.
QUINT: I hadn't seen the movie since I was a kid and I rewatched recently at this theater in Austin called the Alamo Drafthouse. I totally forgot there's a random Weird Al song in it.
SHIA LABEOUF: Yeah, it's nuts!
QUINT: What's the creative decision behind that? I'm just hoping to God DARE TO BE STUPID pops up in this movie somewhere.
SHIA LABEOUF: (laughs) You know, I asked him if was going to use that synthesized '80s shit and he's like, "What're you crazy? Never!"
There's a lot of stuff... you know, there's new robots that he'll create. Or he'll take something like Soundwave and turn it into Soundbyte and it'll become something else. That's understandable, but in no way is he tainting this at all. If anything he's turning it up and modernizing it.
There are certain things, like Megatron wasn't a jet, you know?
QUINT: I'm curious how that's going to translate. I don't mind that he's a jet so much because even as a kid I thought it was a bit weird that the king of all badass villain robots could turn into a gun that somebody else had to use. It kind of took some of his power away...
SHIA LABEOUF: Right, right. That's sort of what Soundwave was about. Those characters all had meaning because Megatron needed that crutch. Now that that's gone, it's done in other ways. Megatron's crutch now is that he's frozen. But it's modernized. You can't have a toy gun. You've got 9 year olds watching this movie and yes, we're creating mythology, but you can't make a toy gun your antihero and then have Hasbro go out and sell toy guns with the little yellow cap on it, you know? It'll look fuckin' ridiculous to have Megatron with a yellow nose, you know what I mean? It'd look retarded.
The fact that it's a Razor, a plane that nobody's seen before, that the military is giving us... that nobody has filmed or seen. I mean, CNN has not seen this plane and we're filming it. It's cool. It gives it that edgy shit. People have seen guns before, but to make Megatron something that nobody's ever seen and make it an edgy presence... it does, it modernizes it and makes it dangerous again. Guns aren't dangerous. How crazy is that to say? But guns aren't dangerous! You've got guns in movies that aren't dangerous at all, you know? I feel like HERBIE THE LOVE BUG could have had a gun and nobody would have questioned it, you know?
QUINT: Maybe stashed in the glove compartment...
SHIA LABEOUF: (laughs) Exactly, it could have been in the glove compartment! But a Razor, you know, with nuclear weapons... Nuclear weapons is what's dangerous. In the '80s it was the gun, but we've been (desensitized), so you've got to amp it up a little bit. And Michael Bay is the dude to amp everything up!
QUINT: Out of all the human characters in the movie, your character has the most interaction with the robots. Has that been difficult? I know they've actually built some full size Transformers. Have they had those for you onset?
SHIA LABEOUF: Well, no. See, they'll build them for the sets that are needed. Again, and I say this kindly, it's a Michael Bay film. So, a lot of it is up to the actors. What's not needed he's not going to introduce. It's not like Peter Weir or Andy Davis, where he'll go out of is way... 'cause (Bay) can't go out of his way because when he goes out of his way there's other shit he's gotta deal with. Here we are in the middle of downtown Los Angeles firing weapons... in the middle of... You know, we're level Orange! So, it is bigger than you can imagine.
So, when it comes down to things like emotional connection with a robot it's like this (he gestures to a street sign... like a No Parking sign), it's a pole with a thing on the top. And now you have to imagine that that's your best friend and that's your best friend dying. It's very Strasberg in that sense. It's all imaginatory. It's creative. Whereas I've never been that guy. It's always been very real for me. Not that I'm a method actor, but it's very hard for me to pull an Al Pacino and imagine shit.
Even when we were doing CONSTANTINE we had men there that were running. When we were creating these demons, there were men there and you could react off of them, as ridiculous as they looked with their codpieces and green suits, but you could react. This is a PVC pipe. 25 feet in the air with a circle on the top. And it's hard to emote, but (Bay)'s allowing it. Even the producers have said, "Michael Bay has never given this much attention to the actors." It's rewarding, you know?
QUINT: You know... I sat down with Bay before shooting and he told me that the whole hook for him with this project wasn't the robots or the action. He said it was the human story, specifically your story, what he called the All-American story of a kid getting his first car.
SHIA LABEOUF: When I met with him he said the same thing. That's why I was into it. I mean, yes it was TRANSFORMERS and oh shit! You're taking me to meet with Michael Bay, but then he was like, "It's a coming of age story." I would never fathom him saying those words. From what I know of Michael Bay and his career and his philosophies on filmmaking, I would have never imagined that. It's something new for him, as it is for me. I mean, he walked onto a set with a 19 year old, 20 year old actor... We'd never met each other before and we've done minimal rehearsals and then we're on set and he's granting me power to have creative control. It's rewarding, it's very fulfilling to know that a person of that stature...
For me and my generation you don't really get bigger than Michael Bay. Michael Bay is the biggest director I can imagine... for the people in Iowa. I mean, Michael Bay is the dude. They don't look at Kubrick films. None of my films who are not in this business have ever seen a Kubrick film. But for people who study the arts... Michael Bay is a different form of filmmaking. But when you're coming off on indies and working with these directors who you do look at like that and then you walk onto a Michael Bay set and you're bringing a different mindset.
I'm not Ben Affleck. I'm not. I'm just not. I'm not the handsome fuckin' guy who can just stand there and doesn't really have to do much to be cool. That's it, film me and I'm good to go. There's a lot of shit I have to earn because I'm not that. So, to have Michael allow me that time to create the character, because I have to because I'm not this... You know, there's a lot of beautiful people in this film and I am not one of them. You can't have a Gary Shandling look-a-like in the mix with all these beautiful fucking people have a grip on the film!
I also don't want to be just a comical dork, either. You have to care for Sam to give a shit about the movie, so there's a lot of pressure on the character and Mike knows that. He allows it. I would have never thought that Mike would have allowed something like that, but he does put massive amounts of energy into that... while shit is exploding!
QUINT: (Motioning down the street as they do a quick run-through with the army guys running down the street) And 20 guys with DOGS OF WAR guns shoot at invisible giant robots.
SHIA LABEOUF: Right, right... which is nuts. Even in I, ROBOT, when we had streets locked off... It was Toronto, you know? (laughs) It's a different city. You're in the middle of Los Angeles. Staples Center is a block away. It's just strange! It's mind-boggling.
I grew up in Echo Park. I used to come down to the fashion district because my mom worked right here. Ten years later, we're closin' the whole fuckin' thing down. We're blowing shit up. It's just weird!
QUINT: Tell me a little bit more about the character you play.
SHIA LABEOUF: Sam is... (pauses). The engine of Sam, for the film, essentially he is the liaison between the robots and the humans. The government is too closed minded to conceive of a reality like this, of alien machines... it's just too much. So, they bestow power upon these people who are experts at their crafts, whether it be the technician or the Dogs of War, or the braintrust who is able to communicate with the robots.
And the reason Sam is able to communicate with the robots... It's not because he knows some fuckin' alien language. Sam Whitwicky comes from a lineage of explorers. Captain Archibald Whitwicky was his great, great grandfather, a 19th Century Seaman, who, during a search, an exploration of the arctic circle, fell upon an ice cave. Fell into the ice cave and into a hand; the hand of Megatron. What he saw when he turned was an eye which burned a laser into his eyeglasses, which was a map of where the Energon Cube is being stored.
When Optimus and the Autobots come to Earth, they're looking for the same thing the Decepticons, obviously. The way that they get there is the map on the glasses. Who has the glasses? Sam has the glasses. So, he becomes the liaison between them and their goal. I'm the middle man.
QUINT: There's also an element of protection, as well. They protect you from the Decepticons.
SHIA LABEOUF: Yeah. Bumblebee becomes my guardian because now that I am the liaison there's power. It's like knowing where the next oil well is, for Americans. Now you have this power, everyone's going to come after you. The Energon Cube is that. Every time I think of this Energon Cube... I know of the Transformers, but when I'm explaining to my mother, that's how I always explain it. It's like oil for America. That's what it is. And there's a lot of political shit in this. If you're watching and if you have the imagination, can become a kid again, you'll understand.
Mike is very political, but he's also very flag-waving American. That's why we are able to have army here. There's army guys here all the time.
[At this point we're led down the street because the cameras can us far in the background. The rest of the interview is finished inside a coffee shop on Broadway]
(Sam) also... You know, when you have these movies about the government and internet hackers... it becomes very big. To just have a normal person is rare. You never have a normal person. (Sam) humanizes a lot of the story because it's so big and because it's the TRANSFORMERS, you need to be able to ground the film somewhere, you need an anchor. So, this story between these two becomes an anchor of this story because it's so simplistic and minimal and because everything else is so outlandish and humongous, it balances it a little bit. At least that's the goal.
That's what Sam is. He's not street-wise, he's not world savvy. He's very sheltered. He comes from a family of very neurotic, nit-picky, sensitive, safety-driven people and now he's at the core of the end of the world. It's a funny dichotomy to have that as your engine. To have the sheltered "I haven't done much and here I am hanging on the edge of this fucking building, 30 stories in the sky..."
QUINT: Is that what you're shooting today?
SHIA LABEOUF: We shot a while ago and they'll probably show you that footage because Mike said it's the most ridiculous thing he's ever shot in his life 'cause no actor would ever get up there and do it. Usually they green screen shit like that. Not here on this movie. They'll wire you and put you on the top of a building, one-handed, holding the (Energon) Cube, and shit blowin' up. Then you're like, "Hey, Mom... what'd you do today?" (laughs) It's just crazy. That's what this has been. It's been a "Hey, Ma. What'd you do today?" every day.
I go home and my mom goes, "How was work?" You can not explain. For me to explain it would be so exhausting. It's just too much. It's too much to talk about. That's what a Michael Bay set is. It's cool to be here. It's also huge for me, huge for everybody involved. But again, it's a Pop Film. You understand that, but you have people like John Turturro and Jon Voight, distinguished actors who are taking part in it as well.
QUINT: Who is Turturro playing?
SHIA LABEOUF: Turturro plays Simmons, who is the CIA agent who is so closed minded that he can't listen to a child. He's the head of a section of the government called Sector 7, which controls everything the CIA doesn't know about.
QUINT: Cool, I'm a big Turturro fan.
SHIA LABEOUF: He's great.
QUINT: I just saw his movie, ROMANCE AND CIGARETTES.
SHIA LABEOUF: He's great. He wants to do a movie called MY DOG STUPID, which is this novella that he's been working on for years. He does that on the side. He's working on tons of stuff. His mind is all over the place, yet he's human enough to be able to just talk to you about football, you know... Buffalo Bills. It's crazy because I'm the same as you. It's John Turturro for me. It never goes away. Happens a lot on these movies. People just assume that "Oh, these actors are all in this club!" But I'm just a kid, bro. I'm 20 years old and I'm on a set with John Turturro and that's Michael Bay, there's Jon Voight and Fuck! There goes Bumblebee!" It just never gets normal. You never get bored of it and that's what keeps you going. It's a lot of energy. There's energy all over this fuckin' thing.
And there are times you hate it. There are times you just fuckin' want to get off this set. Sometimes you love it, you can't wait to come back. It's a mixture of emotions. You ask anybody on any Michael Bay film and it's overwhelming. To do it for 3 months is like... it's just a grind, it's a grind, but the whole movie is a trailer. You can watch 3 minutes of the movie and be blown away. There's more action in this movie than in all of SUPERMAN (RETURNS). You understand that going in. This isn't Bryan Singer directing a romantic film (with action elements). This is an action film, at the core of it. It's an action film and you don't have a lot of those anymore.
You don't. Because everybody's trying to be so character-driven. And yes, there is that type of movie making and I do have those films coming out. I've done those films earlier this year. But those get boring for audiences also. There's the core action film, the purest action film, the Bruce Willis in DIE HARD. That shit is badass and they don't make them anymore and this is that. This is that. Every single shot there is action. Every moment. There's no moment to breath. I remember reading the script and going, "When does the audience get a break?" You always have that break. Even in Michael Bay films where there's storyline and there's explanation.
In THE ISLAND you have the scenes with Djimon (Hounsou) talking to the head of the organization. Or you have the pauses...
QUINT: Or the animal crackers bit.
SHIA LABEOUF: Right. The animal crackers. There's none of that. This is all...
QUINT: A rush to the end?
SHIA LABEOUF: It's like being on a drug. There is no let-up and the only let up there will be is the humor of it. Even the romance is action-driven. It's just nonstop.
You know, we did DISTURBIA, this movie we did earlier this year, and we did maybe 1/4 of 1/4 or 1/4 of the set-ups on this film. When you're not even 3/4ths done with your film and you've shot a million feet of film... It's amazing. It's like working on 3 different movies. I don't think I've ever shot a million feet of film in my entire career. To be on this movie and shoot a million feet of film and have Panavision here every single day... You realize how big it is and what you're doing.
I mean, he's blowing up Escalades! In DISTURBIA we shot one action scene where a car flips over and that was our whole day! A car flips over and that was your 12 hours. What we do in 12 hours here nobody does in an entire film.
QUINT: I know exactly what you're talking about. I was thinking the same thing during my New Mexico visit. I've been to many sets and the easiest stunt or gag they did that one day in New Mexico was the big moment on films I've been to, like BUBBA HO-TEP or even SOUTHLAND TALES.
SHIA LABEOUF: Yeah! What I know of filmmaking is not this. This is a circus, dude. What I know of filmmaking is not this, by any means. There's rehearsal involved, there's discussion involved. This is like, "Right there, right there, right there, right there." And what is right there? You step there, you die. You don't talk about it, you just catch on. It's like being at war.
I mean, we've had dudes who have been at war for 2 years who come on to this set and go this (Shia makes a "Wow!" face, eyebrows raised, etc). And you're looking at them going, "No way, bro! No way you just did that, but I just saw you do that!" And it's for real. This was, like, 3 days ago. We had a guy who came back from Iraq, who had been there for 2 years, and he steps on a Michael Bay film... We're blowing up a helicopter and he's doing that. In the 2 years he was there he saw some wild shit, but never saw a helicopter explode. We were blowing a helicopter up just like, "Yeah, fuck it! Okay, here we go! And action!" you know? It's amazing what you get away with on a Michael Bay film.
QUINT: To me, it wasn't surprising that Bay had a jet flow overhead and 4 explosions rigged on the ground to be timed as they flew over. It was surprising that that was only one gag of, like, 25 for the day. I couldn't believe how quickly he was turnaround.
SHIA LABEOUF: Right, right. Even Mitch Amundsen, the DP (Director of Photography), who has worked with him on the other films... he's done THE ISLAND. He was there on ARMAGEDDON. He was there. Mitch has been there and he said it's never been this fast. Never been this big. It's never been this. It's not me saying it for publicity. It's so overwhelming for the actors involved... it's hard to have any kind of grasp on where you're at at one moment. Mitch has this saying, "If you're not confused, you're not paying attention." That's how it is. That guy's working on that over there, this guy's working on this over here and you're trying to study your pages of dialogue, which you've got to spew out while that train is blowing up. It's tough. It's really hard. It's a different form of acting completely.
You talk to Jon Voight. He's been doing this since, pheww! You talk to him about emoting with a stick. Or Ewan McGregor was telling Michael Bay how, on these George Lucas films, it's just green screen. There is nothing. There are no props. So, in that respect we are fortunate that we at least have a car and (pounds the space between us) a couch here. Whereas on a George Lucas film (Shia gets up and squats over thin air) this is your couch here. It's completely different.
But nonetheless, it's really hard to have a connection with an object that isn't even there and to watch it move... You're being told by ILM, "Here's what he's going to do... He's going to spin here, you're going to walk 3 steps this way, he's going to kneel down and he'll jump over you, then he'll stand there and deliver the rest of his dialogue."
Not only are you now having to focus on your 3 pages, but now you're having to focus on the other actors' movements and imagining what his movements and emotions are. "Now he's doing his thing, now he's jumping..." But the whole time you're doing this you're spewing off dialogue. And the whole time you spewing off dialogue shit is blowing up. The focus... it's like you have to have tunnel vision 'cause if you're not focused just on your job, you're going to fuck up and that's the way everybody's role here is. Your role is this... your immense, immense focus... Put it all 100% on that.
That's the way it's been. That's why nobodies died on this set, nobody's been injured on this set. I've been on movies where guys have been injured for way smaller shit and it's because of a lack of focus. Michael is General Patton. You don't fuck around with Mike and Mike makes it known you don't fuck around with Mike. Mike's a totally different guy when not onset. He's a nice, cool fuckin' guy. He's like a family guy when he's not onset. He loves his dogs when he's not onset. He's a softie when he's not onset. When he's onset. Patton.
QUINT: He's also not afraid to be the bad guy. He doesn't need an AD, he'll be the asshole.
SHIA LABEOUF: That's right because for him it's not about making friends, it's about blowing people's minds. And every day he goes home it's not, "Hey, I shouldn't talked that way" or "I should have talked this way," which a lot of directors do, play this politician game. His entirety, his whole focus, which is almost Kubrick-like... 'cause you'd read book on Kubrick and Kubrick would do 150 takes with no regard to the actor or the crew. It wasn't about that. Until he got what he wanted that was it. And that's the way Mike is. Until he gets what he wants... He says it all the time, "Fuck you! I'll be here all day. You will not leave this set, I promise you. We have enough money, you can be my slave for the rest of this day, until you do it this way."
It's rough, but you know that it's directed and its focused. The goal of the director is to direct and a lot of directors lose track of that General (instinct) which Mike possesses. He's the starting QB and everyone knows it.
QUINT: And I'm sure if you got the feeling that he was behaving this way because he was on some sort of power trip...
SHIA LABEOUF: Nobody would be here. Nobody would be here. You gotta understand... this whole crew has worked with him on all his movies. They come back. It's not as though he's saying, "Fuck you! You're a piece of shit! This that, this that!..." which he does say sometimes, but it's not taken like, "Oh, he just fuckin' embarrassed me." It's like... "You know what? He's right..." He knows everyone's job... that's crazy to say because you say it sometimes, but you really don't mean it. I mean everyone's job. Everyone's. To the point where he could do craft service. Every single person's job he knows and he knows what's right and wrong about all those jobs. He grew up in this.
He was telling me how he started as a PA on Lucasfilms. He used to do file storage for Spielberg on INDIANA JONES and he remembered saying "Aw, this movie's going to be a piece of shit!" and it turns in to INDIANA JONES. This is how he learned! This is his learning curve! Then you have Spielberg giving him cell phone calls. It's not as though he's alone in this. It's the Michael Bay and it's the fuckin' action you've never seen before, but it's also Spielberg on the other end saying, "You gotta make people care about Bumblebee. This is how you make him emotional." And Spielberg is the king at it. Sometimes you watch Spielberg films and some people might say he's too soft. But on the flip side of it, you have the hardest guy in the business. It's a beautiful balance. It really is a beautiful balance.
So, the hope is that the film is something that nobody's ever seen. ILM definitely has said, as far as their shit goes, nobody's ever seen anything like this. You have ILM guys excited. You don't see graphic guys, guys who are in that side of the business, ever go, "Awesome!" They say they go back to ILM and have never seen anything like it. The guys are excited. To be doing something like that is awesome, to know that you're a part of something that is going to change a portion of filmmaking.
Regardless of what people say about Michael Bay, he is the action king. I can't think of anybody who does it like him. He is. And this is an action film. I don't see how you really go wrong.
As far as I've known comic books, and I've done CONSTANTINE, a lot of comic book stuff... I've been reading comic books, Vertigo, all my life. Neil Gaiman is my god. I'm all about the truth of the comic, it's my world. But when you get into the pop culture comics... Even Mike said, "SUPERMAN wasn't our thing. BATMAN wasn't our thing. It was always kinda fruity. Dude in tights with a fuckin' cape. I'm just not buyin' it." I didn't buy into it. I was never the dude to do that. I was into the fuckin' TRANSFORMERS and GO-BOTS cartoons. I was into the tangible. Things I can look at and go, "This is for real!" Rather than walking down Hollywood Blvd. and seeing a Batman guy with a Batman costume going, "Yo... you're a bum. What're you doin'? You're not a superhero. C'mon, bro."
Something tangible. Like, the fact that that (points) that printer could turn into a 4 foot robot and kill me. Right now. As I'm talking to you. Or that (points to my tape recorder) could turn into a 6 inch little thing and cut my face off and burn me. It becomes tangible, it becomes very realistic to the point where you have this character play of where, you know, you're skittish as shit. You're fearful. It's fun to play that. (Points again to the tape recorder again) That's the end of my life. It's the small shit, the small stuff. Somebody's pager could (makes a changing gesture with his hands, like he's solving a Rubix Cube) and that's the end.
That level of fear, the level of magnitude that Michael's shooting at, the level of the pace and the actors like the Turturros and even the Duhamel's... and I've never seen a bad Tyrese. He's an R&B singer. I have no respect for a lot of these rap acts who are actors, but fuck. Tyrese is good, dude. I don't care what people say, if I sound like a douchebag... I've never seen an untrue Tyrese. You go back and look at some of the movies, even BABY BOY, he's fuckin' really good. He's really good. It's a different type of film, but that's not his job. His job is to play the truth of the moment and he does. He plays the truth of moment.
QUINT: He doesn't seem to carry himself as a macho, rapper dickhead with an attitude either. Everybody I've met seems to be really down to earth.
SHIA LABEOUF: That's the fun of this. It's like camp, dude. It's like being at camp, the coolest camp you've ever been to. Everybody's united. It's a group effort. If I don't know where the bomb is, Josh does. If Josh doesn't know, Ty knows. And before every scene you check in. It's like being on a basketball team. I've never felt that kind of camaraderie with a cast. It's always been very selfish. Actors are very selfish about this shit. "This is my moment now. This is your moment now, but I'm going to laugh here to take away from your moment." You know, scene stealing shit. That's not here. Nobody's trying to do that because nobody's trying to steal moments... they're just trying to get through this.
QUINT: Well, at the same time, with all respect to everybody involved, the stars of the movie are the robots...
SHIA LABEOUF: Correct.
QUINT: You're not going to steal a scene from Optimus Prime.
SHIA LABEOUF: No. You can't scene-steal a robot! You just can't! Will Smith couldn't do it in I, ROBOT. You look at that. You really study that fact. Will Smith, one of the most electrifying stars in our business couldn't take away from the character. You give leeway to it. It's a different respect for something that's not even there and you know that your whole movie is on that. The whole reason you're here is because of that fuckin' imaginary.
Michael's all about that. He's said things, like... Somebody will run through and Optimus will be right here and they'll run through the Optimus foot zone and he'll go, "Get the fuck outta my imaginary world!!" (laughs) Mike is all about that, you know? Mike is all about that, you know? Mike is all about that imagination and creation. "Don't step right there. He's right there. He's right there. He's right there." At first it's jokey, then it's not jokey. It becomes very real. At the end of the day you go home and you go, "What the... What a mindfuck! What were we running from? What is this all about?"
That's movie-making, though. Movie-making has always been this magical thing for me and since I've started it, it's never been magical. It's always been very show business-y. Even some of the best films I've ever worked on, it's never had a magic to it. It's always been show and then the business. The producers are the business, this is the show... here we go. This has an aspect of... it's like magician's shit. It's fun to be part of a spectacle where you're coming to work and you're amazed by what you're making. That doesn't happen a lot. You don't do that a lot in your career. Where you have Jon Voight amazed at the fact that this is going on. That's Jon Voight, you'd think he was so jaded by the business, but he gets here and the business is different 'cause it's not the business. It's something completely different. That's what this movie is, you know? Something different.
After this he was pulled away, probably back to hair and make-up where he was originally located before our chat. Hope you enjoyed the interview.
I've seen a lot, talked to many people involved with the movie and people are excited about this movie. Believe it or not, I'm still not convinced this is the TRANSFORMERS movie fans want to see, but I am convinced it'll be a helluva fun Michael Bay actioneer. People have asked me why I didn't demand Bay's head in person for the Megatron image. I agree, the design of Megatron is pretty bad. However, in my own experience of seeing the art before shooting began on this film... well, lots of designs I saw there have changed, primarily Optimus. The image of Megatron that leaked doesn't have a Michael Bay Approved stamp in the bottom right, but a Work In Progress, so I couldn't get all worked up about it knowing it could quite possibly be old news. I know it doesn't look like the piece of Megatron I saw in the production art in Bay's office.
If people are still wondering why I'm optimistic about this project at all... well, it has more to do with the animatics I saw than anything else. Every single one of the Transformers action scenes I saw in those animatics turned my geek up. They're all something I've wanted to see on the big screen since I was a child. These Bay set visits have proven to me Bay is bringing his A Game in terms of action, scope and energy. I feel like a broken record, but the only thing that I'm not confident about in the film is how much of the Transformers I know and love will end up on the screen. I'm not a stickler for vehicle changes, as long as the transformations and robots are badass and feel like the characters I know in some way. Some may question my loyalty to the G1 series by not being immediately pissed off about every thing that comes out. I have been pissed at some stuff, have loved other stuff. I'm not going to be the all or nothing fan, I'm not going to hate everything if I see one piece I don't like. The truth is I've seen lots of cool stuff, more cool things than uncool things. That's where my optimism comes from.
Paramount and Dreamworks have been really cool in dealing with me on this project, but they're not doing it for me. They wanted a flow of information to the fans, you guys. I agreed to be the one keeping tabs on what is going on with TRANSFORMERS because they didn't put any restrictions on me. I was given access, but not embargoed (despite what you might have read elsewhere). My pieces are not submitted for approval. I was told "write what you feel" and I have done that. Of course, they don't want me to be negative, but they've been hands off and have allowed me to make up my own mind.
I'm working on one more bit of TRANSFORMERS coolness for you folks. Even those who are completely against this film would dig on what I'm trying to arrange. I don't want to say what it is in case it doesn't pan out, but you'll see me geek out pretty heavily if it happens and I think all you will, too, as it involves the one thing every TRANSFORMERS fan can agree on. 'Til then, this is Quint bidding you a fond farewell and adieu.