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Transformers: Dark of the Moon – Star Shia LaBeouf finding humor in the darkest of the series

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Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D - Shia LaBeouf
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) © 2011 Paramount

 

The team behind Transformers 3: Dark of the Moon, are traveling around the world doing mega publicity for their feature, which opened on June 29th for the 4th of July weekend.

Shia LaBeouf, who reprises his role of Sam Witwicky, the young boy who first encountered the world of robots disguised as cars, in the 2007 epic Transformers, directed by Michael Bay, spoke with reporters in Moscow, where the third film in the franchise premiered.

How does Sam’s story continue in this?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D - Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf on the red carpet at the Global Premiere in Russia © 2011 Paramount

We pick him up in this third movie, he’s now gone through two wars, and he’s in the middle of a new relationship and in the middle of joining the workforce, because the government can’t just hire you as the guy who saved the world twice and put you in an office. So with all the credentials that he has, and after getting an award from the President, he goes off seeking a job.

Sam finds comfort and solace in Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley), who is a diplomatic assistant that he meets in the midst of his internships, and they develop a relationship. She’s sort of nurturing Sam, who’s just been in two wars and needs some coddling, he needs a lighter vibe and he finds it in this woman who becomes sort of a champion for him.

I know fans of the Transformers franchise will be upset that Megan Fox left. Did you miss her? Did you find Rosie Huntington-Whiteley a good replacement?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D - Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Carly (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) © 2011 Paramount

Megan was a good friend when she was here. I was presented with a different script, and different role. These two people have completely different energies. Rosie’s an incredible actress. This is her first one out of the gate, and she soared. It takes a lot of strength to be in this position. Rosie is very poised and great at her job as well. I enjoyed Megan; I enjoyed Rosie.

For the fans, I think it’s beneficial to have a new set of eyes. Because in the first movie you had this discovery of these people seeing these robots for the first time, that was one of the most magical parts of the movie.

You lose that in the second movie, because the two characters are vetted, and Mikaela and Sam almost became one character with no arc. So selfishly, it hindered my performance because I had less to chew on, and it hindered her performance as well. And I think it hindered the movie.

Here, you have a fresh set of eyes, in Rosie. And what that does is it makes Sam more heroic. When two people have vetted at the same status, they’ve been through the wars together, there’s nobody for Sam to be heroic to, or for. And so this just ups the heroism in Sam and therefore makes my character more interesting. So selfishly, I was very happy that Rosie was here.

What was the most difficult aspect of this movie for you?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D - Shia LaBeouf and John Turturro
Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Simmons (John Turturro) © 2011 Paramount

It’s a huge balancing act in these movies to find humor, with this being the darkest of the three.

Michael was very intent on making sure we kept the humor involved. And the way that we find our humor on Transformers is sometimes it’s written, but most of the time, I would say 90% of the time, we’re adlibbing and trying to find it on the day.

The beauty of [shooting on] digital is, it’s conducive to that, because you never have to cut; you never have to stop. You can stay in it constantly to find good ideas.

The pacing when you’re shooting on 3D digital is very conducive to us trying to find the humor in this movie.

What was it like shooting in Chicago?

Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D - John Malkovich and Shia LaBeouf
Bruce Brazos (John Malkovich) and Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) © 2011 Paramount

I’ve never seen anything like it. We flew into Chicago and the whole city was at our disposal. [Michael] would send rigging teams all over the city all the time randomly to go rig things and they would rope off the street and it would be Transformers’ property.

It was everywhere. Even on my off days I’d skateboard around and I’d see this random rigging everywhere, all taped off.

I remember on Indiana Jones [and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull], when we were filming in Yale, it’s a big movie to be around with, and people would fly in and you’d have sixty or seventy people in the streets dressed up as Indy, on the roped off set. You get to Chicago, there are 20,000 people in the streets roped off, it’s like you’re some kind of rock act. I felt like we were Steppenwolf.

When we walked out there with Tyrese [Gibson], he’s got a big smile and he’s playing the crowd. I’m sort of shy, it’s wild to look out at 20,000 people watching you work; I’ve never experienced that before.

What’s it like working with Michael Bay?

Michael is the greatest action director alive. There is nobody in cinema who films movies like Michael. He might be the best shooter of all time.

Are you pleased with how this movie has turned out?

I think it is without a doubt our best film. I think that the first movie is incredible because it’s the discovery [of the Transformers], but I think this is the perfection of all elements. We are all prideful men and women, and so everybody came to really play this time. There was a different vibe on the set.