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As if it were perfectly titled for her, actress Megan Fox made her film debut in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen starring opposite Lindsay Lohan. Following that appearance, Fox won the lead female role, Mikaela Banes, in the 2007 live-action movie version of the classic cartoon, Transformers. Based on the many toys and cartoons of the same name, Fox played the love interest of Shia LaBeouf's character, Sam Witwicky.
Reprising the role in the sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the brassy brunette clashed with exacting director Bay, making remarks comparing the demanding filmmaker with Adolf Hitler. Subsequently she was fired from the next film.
She went on to be title character in Jennifer's Body, written by Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody. Along the way, this sex symbol married actor Brian Austin Green, had two children, and did a little image adjustment.
Though she's never been demure, the 28 year-old Tennessean has matured and regained producer/director Bay's approval enough to be cast as intrepid flesh-and-blood reporter April O'Neil against four gigantic mutant ninja turtles and sensei rat.
She is the most human creature in Bay's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles motion-capture version (now in theaters).This TMNT reboot brings the wildly successful, iconic characters to the screen in a live action edition executive produced by Stephen Spielberg.
Recently, Fox came to the Soho Apple Store to discuss her work as O'Neil, how it feels to be working with Bay again, and what she would like to see from women in action films. Between a moderator and serious hard-core fans, Fox gave this audience an energetic, spicy take on on her own love of these characters and this film.
Q: Why is this project so important to you?
MF: I was a child of the '90s, and was a super-fan of Secret of the Ooze and Vanilla Ice, and all things that went along with it. I grew up on these movies, and loved them. They were treasured.
I campaigned really hard to get this movie, because I thought it was going to be the best movie of summer 2014, and it is!
Q: As a superfan, what are the important ingredients that you wanted to see in the new interpretation?
MF: You want to stick with the traditional Turtles as much as possible, because we all love them, and we don't want them to be too different. You have to keep their personalities intact, because obviously that would be a sin to deviate from that.
You have to have Splinter. Once upon a time, Splinter was human, so some people wanted to see that. I did not. I grew up with rat Splinter. And you've got to have Shredder. I wanted to see Krang, and maybe we'll see him in the future.
Q: The movie and the cartoons were both equally formative for several generations of fans. What was your first interaction? Was it the ooze and the turtle rap, and that whole thing?
MF: Yeah, it was "Go Ninja, go Ninja, go!"
Q: It's a great movie, but there is no ninja rap. Were you disappointed?
MF: Well, we have Wiz Khaleefa and Ty Dolla, who did the soundtrack, "Shellshocked". "You're about to get shellshocked."
Q: Obviously, with that original trilogy; you had guys in suits. It's a little different this time around.
MF: Yeah, the foam suits. It was Ernie Reyes Jr. in a foam suit.
Q: Obviously, using techniques today -- performance capture is in blockbusters like this. How was it working with these athletes and actors in those suits?
MF: We had four really talented actors, they were perfectly cast. They were in motion-capture suits, they had helmets with cameras in their eyes all the time. They all wore platform shoes, you know, like those emo/goth shoes, that have the thick soles. They looked ridiculous, and I feel like they had it much more difficult than I did.
It was easy to interact with them. They were four really talented actors who worked through all of that, which was a challenge.
Q: Given your filmography, you have accumulated a very interesting skillset, thanks to the Transformer films. Obviously you had to interact with...
MF: Yelling at nothingness?
MF: "Oh no, we have to get it to the dagger's tip, now!" Remember, that line was in the movie. I've done these movies before.
For me, they're the most fun to do because they're the kind of movies I like to watch. Whenever I'm in a hotel room, I'm going to download Thor or Spider Man. These are my favorite films, so I feel privileged to be in them. I had a good time making them.
Q: The timing got a little weird because you got pregnant right around the time when you were shooting.
MF: We think it's one of the turtles.
Q: It would obviously be Michelangelo, if it would be any of them.
MF: If I was going to one-night-stand it, I think it would be Raphael. Right?
Q: Why is that, exactly?
MF: Raphael is the big bad boy. Not the kind of guy you want to have a relationship with.
Q: Is Michelangelo the one you marry?
MF: No, Leonardo's the one you marry. You definitely date him, but you don't marry Mikey, because he's not going to remember your anniversary. But Leo will. Leo is like the stoic - the good one, the leader, Prince Charming.
Q: Obviously, you couldn't do everything you wanted. Part of the appeal to do this film would be to get back into your physicality, mixing it up with the guys.
MF: I tried to do as many stunts as possible. There was some wire-work, you can't do that when you're pregnant. That wasn't possible. But I had a really amazing stunt girl, and a really amazing stunt team, when I couldn't do stunts.
Q: Do you have a new perspective on the Turtles, not only as part of the franchise, but as a mom? Do you think any young kids would get into the Turtles?
MF: Yeah, but my kids are still babies. The oldest one's not even two. But it was in the back of my mind when I took this.
I think that one day, once he's older, he'll be able to say, "My mom's April O' Neil." That's kind of badass. Or, he'll be mortified and super-embarrassed. I'm not sure which, because I was also bent over by Transformers, and he might not appreciate that as much.
Q: You shot this partially in New York City. The Turtles are features of this city. Did you have a favorite set or a favorite shot?
MF: I guess shooting on the rooftop, because you could see all of New York City.
My favorite scene of this movie? There was this elevator sequence, where the Turtles are on their way to engage in a battle with Shredder, and they have to ride in an elevator for a long time, and it's very tense. They start beat-boxing and dancing; it's a really funny sequence. It doesn't sound like it now, but trust me, when you see it, you'll love it.
Q: With the stamp that Michael Bay puts on films, you know what you're getting. Is that a comfort level for you, returning to this film, knowing what he's going to demand of you?
MF: I think Michael doesn't make small movies, that's for sure. So I knew that it had the backing, and the drive behind it, to make it something that we all [would be proud of].
I think there's a comfort in him, because he does know what he's doing, in terms of this big, giant spectacle type films. He's a genius, with his eye. He's [a visual] genius.
I wanted it to be something in theaters, where people would actually see it. -- where it wouldn't fall straight to the SyFy channel, or On Demand. I wanted people to be able to see it and love it, because I was such a fan also.
Q: It must be awesome to see the finished product. What you experienced on the set is much different. Did you tear up a little bit, watching this one?
MF: I do. I tear up. There's a scene, I think you saw some of the footage, where Sensei is going up against Shredder, and he's losing, and the brothers are trying to save him, and I cry. There's a speech, given by Raphael at the end, and I cry every single time, and I've seen the movie four or five times. It's very good, guys.
Q: How much of a relief is it, from a fan perspective, when you saw the finished product. Because, again, you knew in production, that they're changing this and they're changing that. But it's got to be a great source of relief when you know at the end.
MF: You never know until you see it -- it's completely out of your control. But I saw it, and I was really blown away by it. The 3D is incredible, so definitely see it in in 3D, if you have a choice.
I am super relieved, and I'm very proud of it. This is the most proud I've ever been of a movie I've been a part of. I'm happy!
Q: When you shot this in 3D, did the 3D cameras add a whole another level of complexity?
MF: I don't know things like that. I just put on my jacket and run around!
Q: The jacket is important. The April O' Neill outfit is important. What do we want to get right about this character? Why is she a cool female lead? She's really the eyes and ears of the audience on this one.
MF: It's important not to sexualize April, because if we had done that, it would have jeopardized the audience's relationship to her.
In her mind, she's trying to be Anderson Cooper. In the whole movie, she's trying to get people to take her seriously, to believe that she's trying to be a real journalist.
Q: Do you see any of yourself in the character April O'Neil.
MF: I think I relate to April in that she is not afraid in what she believes in, even though people are telling her she's crazy. Even though people are telling her that she's wrong, she still pursues what she thinks is correct. I have some of that same spirit, as well.
I hope there are no children in the audience, but I've been described as "someone who could give two fucks". April's a little bit that way, as well.
She only gets rescued by the Turtles, that was important to me. Because in most movies, the female needs the help of a stronger, more capable male, and that doesn't happen in this movie. The only thing that happens is she needs a ride from Vern, but that's because she doesn't have a driver's license; it's New York City.
Q: And Vern is played by the always talented Will Arnett, Are you a big Arrested Development fan?
MF: I am. I think he and David Cross on that show are like hall of fame iconic.
Q: You mentioned Krang. Obviously this is a potential franchise -- what would you like to see in the sequel?
MF: There's been talk of Krang, of Bebop and Rocksteady. Of course, there's Casey Jones.
Q: Do you have somebody in mind?
MF: If I were not in this movie, and if he were available, which he's not, I say Andrew Garfield would be a really good Casey Jones..
Q: The importance of a strong female character that is not rescued by a guy -- there's been a lot of conversation about this in recent days.
There really aren't any superhero films with superheroines, even the Marvel films. Do you feel it's time, it's just a matter of time, before we see more of those? What's your perspective?
MF: Do you think I would answer as anything but yes? No, it's not time for women to be in [superhero] movies. Let's take it back 50 years. Here's what I can tell you. It doesn't really answer your question, but it's the answer I want to give you.
They should make a Danger Girl movie, and they should make a Gen13 movie. And then -- I wasn't super into this -- a real freaky audience would go see the Sailor Moon movie, so they should make that also.
If I were a producer, I would make so much money, because I've got my finger on the pulse.
Q: Are you ever going to be a producer?
MF: I don't know what I'm doing.
Q: You're busy with your family, sneaking in work when you can; you've got a full life. Do you have a plan in mind, what the ideal career looks like in the next few years?
MF: No. I'm impulsive. I'm not a planner, I'm not a pragmatic. I can't make lists and circle everything off; I can't do that. I just fly by the seat of my pants. I'm an adventurer.
Q: Everyone is in talks for True Detective Season 2, and everyone seems to be doing HBO shows. Would you like to be in any HBO shows, or anything like that?
MF: I don't watch a lot of TV, I don't have a lot of time, and when I do, I watch like reruns of The Office, to be honest. Or Ancient Aliens, you have to be a genius to appreciate that show.
I don't watch a lot of HBO. I guess I would do it, if it were filmed in Los Angeles, especially, because I have kids, so I'd like to be able to stay close to home.
Q: You said that you campaigned heavily for the role of April. Was there another universe you might campaign for, or any other iconic roles, like the Marvel Universe, or DC comics?
MF: If they were to make a Gen13 movie, I would pursue that pretty hard. Actually, isn't Sidney the one in Danger Girl, that is the brunette with the green eyes. I'd probably pursue that, as well. I've always loved Poison Ivy, but that happened already.
Q: Do you see yourself in a sequel of the Ninja Turtles?
MF: I definitely see myself in the sequel, coming to you in the summer of 2016. I would love to do it!
Q: What has been the most dangerous film, like a scene that you shot that was dangerous as a stunt?
MF: In all of my career? I had a humorous answer, but it would have turned into a terrible news story, if I said it out loud.
Actual stunts... there was a scene in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, where we're in the desert. I don't remember the exact amount of gas, it was something like a 100-gallon gasoline bomb that was going off -- the biggest ever, in film history. And we actually had to run as fast as we could, to avoid being burned. And we looked, and the special effects team were like three football fields away.
It was me, Chi, and Josh Duhamel, who were the only human beings who were anywhere near the explosion. I guess that was the first time I've seen both of them terrified. We were all really scared, because we didn't know what was going to happen when they called "Action!"
Q: Who would you like to work with in the future?
MF: It's a good question. I don't often think about this. I have always been partial to Christopher Walken. I like him! He's really good.
Q: Who has inspired you along your career -- besides the Ninja Turtles -- especially female actresses in the past that you looked up to?
MF: It's a good question, because I consider myself a leader, and not a follower -- not to say that I haven't been inspired. I just feel that I'm a truly bizarre individual, and there h
aven't been many like me, thus far, in Hollywood.
You'd have to take it way back. Ava Gardner was notorious for being a real broad, speaking her mind and doing what she wanted, and that was sort of inspirational to me.
That's the best answer I can give you.
Q: What is your advice to aspiring actors?
MF: You will always have a great many, many, many haters, and you have to be able to survive that, and keep your head up, and protect your own self-image. It's difficult.
The main advice I give is, you have to make sure that you're not over-sensitive, and that you don't seek validation through the opinion of others. Because if you do, this dream will eat you alive.
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