Anthony Breznican – USA TODAY
Transformers are more than meets the eye — until someone almost loses one.
At the movie’s Los Angeles premiere Monday night, the stars of the brawling-robot sequel shared some of their wounds and near-death experiences from Michael Bay’s explosive set, including Shia LaBeouf’s close call with blinding.
The actor, 23, flutters his right eyelid to show the inch-long scar, from when he “hit my eye on a spike.” It’s one of many marks he picked up while running, jumping, rolling and falling while pretending to be besieged by invisible alien robots.
Which wounds were the worst? “To be able to weigh the pains? They all hurt, man,” LaBeouf laughs, showing off a few more battle scars. “I’ve got tons of ‘em. All over. I got 30 stitches in the face, I got scars on my back, on my knee. That was crazy. I got beat up a lot.”
His worst injury, of course, happened off-set last July, when a red-light running driver smashed into and rolled over his car on Sunset Boulevard. LaBeouf’s left hand was crushed and had to be reconstructed, a wound that was written into the script of Revenge.
Though the hand is still in a metallic brace, which, ironically, keeps his middle finger perpetually extended, LaBeouf says it’s healing, though slowly. “The left hook is good. It’s getting better. It’s no longer broken, so that’s good,” he says, examining the hand.
Ramon Rodriguez, a newcomer to Transformers who plays Leonardo Ponce De Leon Spitz, the conspiracy theorist college roommate of Shia’s character, was introduced to the franchise in a trial by sandstorm. In one sequence, the Decepticon behemoth Devastator, constructed out of seven other giant robots, begins inhaling everything in the desert — with Rodriguez’s character hanging on for dear life.
“I’ve got one that was dangerous,” says Rodriguez, who also co-stars as one of Denzel Washington’s fellow transit cops in The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3. “For the Devastator thing where it’s sucking up the sand I had to hold onto this pole, and Michael Bay brought out these two huge fans that blow 100 mph winds, put them right in front of my face, so I have sand, soot, dirt blowing in my face. And I have two guys behind me with wires attached to my ankles, yanking my legs so I can look elevated. It’s not over yet — Michael Bay brings out two cars attached to hydraulic cranes, flips them over my head — inches over my head — and I pop my shoulder because the guys are yanking my ankles so hard. Keep rolling, keep filming, that’s my Michael Bay moment.”
Megan Fox, who showed up at the premiere in a white gown reminiscent of a Roman toga, recalled that Rodriguez was with her when she shot her own riskiest sequence.
“There is a scene with Ramon and I where we’re running though this industrial building and Michael doesn’t even feature it a lot in the movie, so (expletive) him for that,” she says. “There were gas bombs coming out of the wall, like four or five that you had to run past. If I didn’t run fast enough, I would have lost all my hair. Or my eyebrows. Or something.”
Even Julie White and Kevin Dunn, who play LaBeouf’s bickering parents, got into the action this time after being kidnapped by the Decepticons to set a trap for the young college student, who holds the key to resurrecting an ancient machine that would harvest the energy of the sun.
She recalled that when some special effects charges accidentally caused a real fire on the house they were using as a set, Bay picked up a handheld camera and started shooting while firefighters rushed in. “I said, ‘Shouldn’t we concentrate on actually putting the fire out, Michael?’ ” White recalls. “And he said, Ahhh … somebody else will do that!’ “
Anticipation is high for Revenge, with the original film earning $708 million worldwide, and many online ticket sellers reporting sold-out screenings for the very first showings at midnight Tuesday, portending a massive potential blockbuster.
Screenwriters Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman (Star Trek, TV’s Fringe) aren’t ready to comment on a third Transformers movie, though that’s the one thing everybody keeps asking them about.
“We just finished this movie two weeks ago, because you end up writing so much robot dialogue you’re literally rewriting the movie right up until the end,” Orci says.
Kurtzman says: “On a gut level, there needs to be a major departure from everything that’s gone before. It needs to go in a very, very different direction.”
Bay says there’s no rush. “I want to stay away from robots for, easily, a year,” said the exhausted filmmaker.
That should also give his battered cast time to recuperate.