If there is something worse than being the first line of defence against a powerful opposing force, it must be being the first line of defence against a powerful opposing force... of giant robots. Luckily for Josh Duhamel and Tyrese Gibson (and their hordes of fans here on Earth), the alien encounter and imminent buttkicking they seem sure to receive in Michael Bay's new reboot of the Transformers franchise haven't seemed to affect the pair as they happily took turns chatting with Buzzine's Emmanuel Itier in Los Angeles on the eve of the release of Paramount's breakout blockbuster for the 2007 Summer movie season...
EI: Josh - growing up, were you a great fan of the Transformers?
JD: Oh yeah. I had the toys, I watched the cartoons, so when I heard that we were making this movie, I immediately flashed back to watching the cartoons and thinking, Are humans going to be transformers, or how are they going to do it? But then I went to meet for a different movie at one point, then I got called back to go meet on this one and that’s when he [Michael Bay] started showing me some of the stuff and I started understanding what it was they were going to be doing–early ideas for it. Then I got it.
EI: Tyrese, what about you and this film?
Tyrese Gibson: Oooh whee... it was just full throttle from the beginning to the end. When I went and met with Mike, he was showing me animatics, showing me all of these images of these sets that were going to be built, and it was just a lot. It was a lot for me to take in. Mike has been operating on this level for a very long time, so the things that could blow you away, he’s sittin’ there talking about it casually: “Yeah, it’s going to be 15 explosives in this area. Megatron is gonna say something over here and then you respond to him.” Whoa! Hold on, Jack!
JD: The amount of preparation that the guy puts into his movies is amazing. I just saw it last night for the first time, and he’s such a meticulous filmmaker in that every detail is taken care of. He knows exactly what he wants, so when you’re on the set, nobody really knows what’s going to happen, so you’re there just ready. We were like little puppies. He wants you to go over there so you go over there. “Okay, run from there to there and Megatron is going to be that tall and this is right after this.” He knows the part of the story. After a while, we didn’t even know what script we were shooting anymore. That final battle scene was all downtown L.A. and there were explosions everywhere. There’s going to be somebody up on that building.
TG: Crazy. You’ve got extras running up the street screaming, doing so many takes they’re all hoarse now so you just hear [Quiet breath] ahhhhhhh! No voice coming out. It’s kind of crazy.
EI: What did you do to get into that macho soldier mode?
JD: I live in that state. No–it’s funny. I got a few earsful from Mike. He’s like, “Dude, I’m tryin’ to make you look heroic here. Listen to me. I’ll make you macho.” So he made me feel even more like a nerd.
EI: With all those explosions going on around you, that had to get your adrenalin pumping just right there. How many days of intensity was that for you?
TG: Every time we touched the set. Every once in a while, we got to do a scene without explosives where we could actually get our dialogue out, but most of the time, we were talking in between bombs.
JD: [Laughs] That’s so funny, but true.
TG: And we would always end up having dialogue at the end of the street after running down like half a mile through explosives and cars. It would be just crazy. You’d be running up the street like this and then [He makes a falling bomb and explosion noise] like this. Awwww, s***! It was just full throttle. Then, at the end, it’s time for your close-up. After all of that stuff you’ve just seen – explosives, car wrecks, people shooting, tanks rolling over cars – now you’re supposed to deliver your lines. I was so concerned about my life runnin’ up the street. I’ve got to get out of concerned-about-my-life mode and get back to memorizing my lines.
EI: And then the lines are all this military jargon.
TG: Yeah: “We are alpha two seven three degrees, two minutes North latitude.” What? I remember all my dialogue. It was so hard to memorize, I can’t forget it.
EI: Where was the desert stuff shot?
TG: Alamogordo, New Mexico. White Sands.
JD: About a 120 degrees...
TG: ... 124, maybe.
JD: I was in New York just a few days ago, and in the hotel they had little pictures of pretty places all over the world that come up on this pole, and they had White Sands right there. It made me kind of nostalgic.
TG: Yeah. Our favorite place [in Alamogordo] was Chili’s. The Chili’s in Alamogordo became the top 20 grossing Chili’s in the country because that was the place we hung out every night. It was so repetitive. You would get to your room after a long day of shooting and youÂ¹d be laying in your bed saying, “You know, I’m not goin’ to Chili’s tonight.” Then, god dammit, I’m goin’ to Chili’s. Every night, everybody–cast, crew–we were at Chili’s. Chili’s helped us to get this movie done.
EI: Shia was saying that you got so excited when you saw the film that you were throwing stuff at the screen.
TG: I was, man. I lost my hat during the course of the movie. I think I lost my left shoe and my right sock. The shoe was still on but the sock was gone. I don’t know how that worked. [Josh laughs]
It was just too much for my brain to take in – Transformers runnin’ up the street and then turn into a car! I’ve never seen anything like that in my life! It looked real. It wasn’t the little bubble gum special effects like they spent two dollars on. I wish I was a Transformer, I’d have made more money on this movie: They got all the damn money!
EI: What was the hairiest thing for you when you were in actual danger?
TG: For insurance reasons, they don’t put you in that much danger. There was a lot of stuff.
JD: Remember when we had two weeks off and we came back and we were all not in soldier mode? [Tyrese laughs] There was this scene where we had to land on the concrete. It was after the Transformer had lifted up the semi to absorb the bomb and we all went flyin’. There were just a few things like that.
EI: What about physical prep for this, or were you already pretty fit?
JD: For me, [Michael] warned me before we started shooting: “I put my guys through a lot of physical tests in my movies, so be ready,” and so I thought, Okay. It was mostly just core stuff. I tried to be as strong as I could be because I knew I was going to be wearing all the gear and carrying guns, and running up and down the streets and diving, and all that stuff. It wasn’t about getting buff, just being as strong as I could. I knew it was going to be a long shoot.
EI: With all the physical stuff, there’s that one little scene where you talk to your wife in the film.
JD: Yeah, that was my one little anti-soldier scene and I was talking to a laptop.
TG: And Michael is still tryin’ to figure out a way to put a bomb in the background there, see if he can squeeze that in. It’s like, “Mike, I¹m talking to my baby right now!” [Josh cracks up]
EI: Is this the first time you’ve both worked with bluescreen or effects?
JD: For me, yeah, but there wasn’t much bluescreen in the movie. Almost none.
TG: I’ve seen probably three blue screens in the whole movie, and that’s five and a half months of filming.
EI: But you are talking to poles with red balls on them for heads?
JD: Not me. Shia had the difficult job. Shia was actually carrying on conversations with them. We were just running from them and trying to kill them. I think Shia is such a talented kid. He did such a great job in the movie.
TG: Yeah, I love Shia.
EI: Are you guys signed for sequels?
TG: I’m not. [Sad voice] Maybe I wasn’t good enough.
EI: For each of you, what was your favorite toy when you were growing up?
JD: I liked the bad ones. I liked the Decepticons. I was a Megatron fan.
TG: I liked Optimus [Prime]. Optimus is the one. So, my Optimus against your Megatron and we’ll see who is gonna win. Meet me at midnight...
JD: You want a piece? I want two! He ripped him in half.
EI: The one African American Transformer...
TG: Uh huh. Why does the black Transfomer gotta die, man? He’s like, I’m gonna go kick it over here. I’m like, he’s black! Damn! But there’s gonna be some other black Transformers is the sequel. I know it. I’ve asked if I can do a little voice over work, but I can’t announce it to anybody.
EI: You can rebuild him.
TG: Yes. We’re gonna put Jazz back together.
JD: I guess they could. It’s not like he died of blood loss.
TG: Just put a new battery in him, man–Duracell.
JD: Did you see that little Megatron at the end? He kicks that dude and he goes flyin’.. I’m like, No way. I can’t believe he did that. It made a little ping sound.
EI: This will be a big summer date movie for teens. When you were a kid, what was the first big summer movie that you took a date to?
EI: Was it fun?
TG: Yeah. Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice!
JD: I remember Independence Day.
EI: So you were dating a lot?!!
TG: I had to get it crackin’ early. It was the same girl.
JD: In North Dakota, you go to a bonfire and try to get ‘em drunk [Laughs].
EI: What’s coming up for you guys? Josh, are you starting with “Las Vegas” again?
JD: Yeah, we’re five episodes in and we have 22. We’ll be doing that until January and then it all depends on if we go another season.
EI: That¹s pretty good to get 22.
JD: Tell me about it. We didn’t think we were even going to go this year.
EI: Are you adjusting for the cast change?
JD: Yeah, Tom Selleck. He’s the new owner. He’s good . They’re totally different styles [Selleck and James Caan], but he’s a good fit.
TG: Tom Selleck. I love that guy.
EI: Tyrese, are you doing more with your music?
TG: Yeah, I just joined my first ever R&B group. It’s called TGT, which is Tyrese, Genuwine and Tank, and in December we’re doing a tour called The Shirts Off Tour, and all men are banned.
JD: Really? Jesus. Seriously?
TG: The first record that we put out was to Tank’s first single called “Please Don¹t Go”. His album came in at number two when it came out. [Singing] “Please don’t go.” So we did the re-mix as TGT, and The Shirts Off Tour is happening in December.
EI: Josh, did Tyrese sing for you on set?
Josh Duhamel: [Singing] “Every time I get this feeling, she keeps callin’ me back.” That one? [Laughs] I can¹t remember the words for it!
EI: Are the muscles you use to sing and act the same? Is it the same sort of process for you, or is it a whole different world?
TG: Muscles are muscles. Got to use them muscles for everything.
JD: Answer the question.
TG: That’s my answer.
JD: What is that?
EI: You write your own stuff though, right?
JD: You’re a talented dude, Tyrese.
TG: I’m a'right.
EI: Did you guys get to drive that Camaro in the film?
JD: I sat in it. None of the stuff was in there. The whole console was basically bare. It was just kind of cool. It was a mock up, a concept car, and all it did was drive. It was like a shell.
TG: I loved how they transitioned from the old one to the new one, though. I was like, How are they gonna get the new one in there? Megan talked a little s*** about the car and it got dumped out.
EI: Have you guys had to deliver Transformer toys to nephews and family?
TG: Oh, I’ve got plenty to deliver because I checked in my room and I ain’t never seen so many toys in my life.
JD: Do we get to keep those?
TG: Yeah, those are ours. Did you see the comic book with us in it?
TG: There’s a comic book in our room, man. We’re in there, and they even rolled my sleeves up, and that was my idea.
JD: You had the Air Force shirt on.
TG: Yeah, and it’s in the comic book. They were just rolled up a little bit and they did that in the comic book. I’ve never seen me in a comic book. That was crazy. I’ve got my little red hat on.
JD: Did it look like you?
TG: Yeah, it looked like me. Just a little more muscles.
EI: Does it look like Josh?
TG: Yeah, it’s definitely Josh.
Paramount Pictures' 'Transformers' is in theaters on July 4, 2007.