By ANGELA DAWSON
Front Row Features
HOLLYWOOD—Megan Fox is best known for her role as Shia LaBeouf’s girlfriend Mikaela Banes in the first two “Transformers” movies. After a very public falling out with the blockbuster franchise producer Michael Bay, the two apparently have patched things up because Fox now stars in another Bay-produced big budget action movie, “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” This time, Fox is no second banana. She is the star.
As soft news TV journalist April O’Neil, she wants to cover more important stories. Following up a lead involving the disappearance of chemicals at a shipyard, she stumbles onto a mysterious vigilante/superhero, which turns out to be four mutated teenage turtles. They’re human-size. They can speak and they know ninja moves. As she gets to know the masked quartet—Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo—she realizes she has a close connection to these muscled mutant reptiles. She is determined to help them stop the diabolical Shredder and his evil Foot Clan from carrying out a deadly toxic attack on New York City so they can reap the rewards for antidote.
Director Jonathan Liebesman (“Battle: Los Angeles”) said he cast Fox because she’s more than just a pretty face.
“What comes across to me is someone who’s much smarter than a lot of people give her credit for and there’s more to her than meets the eye” he says, making a subtle reference to her previous franchise. “That was something I really wanted to put into April O’Neil. I wasn’t very interested in sexualizing her. That wasn’t what was interesting to me about April O’Neil. I wasn’t trying to service fans that look at Megan’s Maxim pictures. I was servicing fans who love ‘Ninja Turtles.’”
Fox, who is married to actor Brian Austin Green, was pregnant with her second son, Bodhi, while filming the action-packed and also comical superhero movie. He was born February 12, and joins brother Noah, who turns 2 in September.
The 28-year-old Memphis, Tenn., native has a penchant for speaking her mind, and she didn’t hold back at a recent press conference, where she let the four-letter words fly. She also addressed questions about joining another big screen franchise, her fondness for “TMNT” and playing a reporter.
Q: Were you already a fan of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?”
Fox: Jonathan (Liebesman, the director, and the producers) brought the movie to life. I was just in it. I was a big fan as a kid. I had an older sister who was really into the movies so I got into it because of her. I watched the cartoon also. I won’t claim that I read the comics because I didn’t and I don’t want to get stoned for something I didn’t do.
Q: Your character, April, is fond of turtles. Did you have turtles or pets as a little girl? What was your favorite?
Fox: I didn’t have turtles because you have to keep them in cages and I was always really against that, even when I was little. Apparently, Jonathan (Liebesman, the director) thinks that’s funny. I had a black cat. She was a stray cat. I named her Candy, and I thought she was magic. That cat was my favorite. So I love cats and dogs, and I’ve had ferrets, pigs and birds. I’m an animal person.
Q: Did you have to do fight training for this?
Fox: We actually started out doing some kickboxing, kickbox training. And then they would teach me on-site because we had an incredible stunt team. So they would teach us as we went along. They were the best of the best. I was pregnant also so I couldn’t do all the stunts while I was filming. What I couldn’t do, we had a stunt girl that could do all the serious stuff for me. So I did what I could—and that was a lot.
Q: You’ve acted opposite Transformers and now you’re acting opposite Turtles. Is it more challenging to act opposite a CG character than a human?
Fox: When we were doing “Transformers,” Shia (LaBeouf) and I were just screaming at things at the sky. We had no references at all at that point because how can you? You’re dealing with 30-foot robots. But, in this one, we had four actors that were really and what I consider a stroke of genius cast by Jonathan (Liebesman, the director) because they were perfect for their roles and they really embodied them. I don’t know if they lived together beforehand, but they spent a lot of time together. They really interacted like brothers. When we do movies like this, we’ll do a scene with the actors and then we do a scene for what we call the clean plate without the actors there so if they want to use that shot, they don’t have to paint them out before they paint the turtles in. Inevitably, in every single one of those, I was always significantly worse when the actors weren’t with me, so because they were so good that helped me be a lot better. So whenever you have an opportunity to work with real people, it’s always helpful.
Q: I heard you had an early childhood crush on Michelangelo. What was it like to work with that character onscreen, especially since you two had the most screen time together?
Fox: During shooting we sort of played around with that. It was kind of a Raphael/April connection and then it turned into a Michelangelo/April thing. It’s just up his alley. He’s always been girl crazy. That’s his personality. I’m happy it turned out that way. Also, Noel (Fisher), the kid that plays him, is a really talented actor. He steals the movie. In my opinion, it’s Mikey’s movie.
Q: Were you attracted to the role because April’s a strong female who doesn’t have to show her midriff, which you had to do all the time when you did “Transformers”?
Fox: First of all, I don’t mind doing that stuff. I think that’s been a part of being an actress in Hollywood since the beginning. I don’t feel ashamed or like I can’t be taken seriously while also wearing a tank top. And if you don’t take me seriously when I’m wearing a tank top, that’s your problem, not mine. But I was attracted to this because I was a fan as a kid, and I really wanted to do this. I really campaigned to get this because I was a fan. I was afraid at the same time because you don’t want to ruin something that you loved, and be a part of its downfall so, of course, I was terrified of letting people down. But I had to do it because it was iconic to me as a kid and I just feel lucky to have gotten the opportunity.
Q: You play a journalist and you’ve had some experience dealing with journalists? How do you see journalism right now? What are your thoughts about them after playing one in this movie?
Fox: Everyone with an iPhone is a journalist in their own way now, especially because we live in a tabloid culture. When you watch CNN, they give you news that is based on Tweets that people are sending out, and you realize that society’s really changing. The collective public has a voice now that they didn’t have previously have. The trajectory of how we are socially with one another, I don’t know, I’m going to get metaphysical with you, but the point is, it didn’t necessarily change my view of (the press) so much, but I know now that the job is much more tedious than I realized previously. You’ve got to keep track of a lot of ****.
Q: There are a lot of people writing nasty things about this movie on the Internet even before it has come out. What do you think about people saying you’re crushing their dreams?
Fox: Let me tell you something about those people. How much money did “Transformers 4” make? So those people who complain all go to the theater and they’re going to love it. And if they don’t love it, they can **** off.