Yesterday’s revelation that Megan Fox will not be starring in Transformers 3 stunned and divided a nation. While Fox is not generally regarded to be a particularly gifted actress, she is a pretty gal, and was seen by many as the main reason anyone would want to sit through a Transformers movie (typical messageboard comment: “Yeah… They just cut their boxoffice in half..”) Time will tell what actually happens with Transformer 3.
Fox’s PR team issued a statement yesterday that said that “It was her decision not to return. She wishes the franchise the best,” which Deadline’s Nikki Finke dismissed as “absolutely untrue.” More likely, she was axed for, among other reasons, comparing Transformers director Michael Bay to Hitler.
How did things break down between Bay and Fox? We investigate:
2003: Megan Fox’s first collaboration with Michael Bay: At age 15, she plays a bikini-clad extra in Bad Boys 2.
2007: The first Transformers movie comes out, making Megan Fox an instant household name. She supposedly had to wash Bay’s Ferrari in a bikini to get the part.
June 12, 2009: Even before Revenge of the Fallen comes out, Fox indicates that she’s in the running for #3, but she manages to pooh-pooh the series at the same time. From an interview with Entertainment Weekly:
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You up for a third Transformers?
MEGAN FOX: Sure. I mean, I can’t s— on this movie because it did give me a career and open all these doors for me. But I don’t want to blow smoke up people’s ass. People are well aware that this is not a movie about acting. And once you realize that, it becomes almost fun because you can be in the moment and go, ”All right, I know that when he calls Action! I’m either going to be running or screaming, or both.”
June 24: Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the second Transformers movie, hits theaters. Though meagerly received by critics, it’s a smash hit: It grosses $836 million worldwide versus its budget of $200 million.
June 25: Megan Fox continues to criticize Michael Bay for focusing too much on special effects and not enough on acting. Bay strikes back in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “Well, that’s Megan Fox for you. She says some very ridiculous things because she’s 23 years old and she still has a lot of growing to do. You roll your eyes when you see statements like that and think, “Okay Megan, you can do whatever you want. I got it.” But I 100% disagree with her.”
September 2(ish): In the now-infamous interview with Wonderland magazine, Fox compares Michael Bay to Hitler. She also compares him to Napoleon, but no one remembers that.
God, I really wish I could go loose on this one. He’s like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation. He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is. So he’s a nightmare to work for but when you get him away from set, and he’s not in director mode, I kind of really enjoy his personality because he’s so awkward, so hopelessly awkward. He has no social skills at all. And it’s endearing to watch him.
September 11th: Three anonymous and “loyal” members of Michael Bay’s crew blast Fox in an open letter, accusing her of being, among other things, “dumb-as-a-rock,” “the queen of talking trailer trash,” and “about ungracious a person as you can ever fathom.”
September 12th: Michael Bay becomes an unlikely white knight: In a short post on his website, he writes that “I don’t condone the crew letter to Megan. And I don’t condone Megan’s outlandish quotes. But her crazy quips are part of her crazy charm. The fact of the matter I still love working with her, and I know we still get along. I even expect more crazy quotes from her on Transformers 3.”
September 18th: Jennifer’s Body, a horror movie starring Megan Fox, hits theaters in the U.S. Despite all of the publicity around Hitlergate, the movie does poorly with audiences and critics alike, and its performance strengthens the contention of Bay partisans that but for him, Megan Fox would be a nobody.
October 5th: Another quip from Bay in response to Fox’s complaints that the Transformers set was unsafe.
“Megan Fox, welcome back. I promise no alien robots will harm you in any way during the production of this motion picture.” He goes on to say, “Please consult your Physician when working under my direction because some side effects can occur, such as mild dizziness, intense nausea, suicidal tendencies, depression, minor chest hair growth, random internal hemorrhaging and inability to sleep. As some directors may be hazardous to your health, please consult your Doctor to determine if this is right for you.”
October 8th: In Touch gets a quickly forgotten scoop that will prove to be prescient: They say Michael Bay is debating between killing Fox off or simply not including her in the movie. They quote an ‘insider‘: “Michael’s pretty much discovered Megan and now he’s very quietly looking for her replacement. He hasn’t decided if he’s going to kill her off in the next movie, but he just wants to be prepared.”
November 20th: Bay belatedly dismisses rumors that he plans to kill Fox off in an interview with USA Today. He reiterates the views that she is a) great and b) 23.
But it turns out, Bay couldn’t care less. Really. “I love her,” the man responsible for the blockbuster franchise told USA TODAY’s Andrea Mandell. “It’s just, she’s young. Everyone’s got to give her a break, she only…23? It’s just hard. I’ve traveled around the world with her and she’s just like this world symbol now, you know?”
So he brushes her diatribes under the carpet? “Absolutely,” he said. “She called me (after the Hitler comment) and goes, ‘It’s all bullsh—t, Mike.’ The press, they just like to prey, and stalk, and pounce and find a good little juicy thing. But she’s always wanted to do these crazy comments. That’s just her. She’s great.”
April 29th, 2010: Publicity ramps up for Fox’s kinda-superhero movie Jonah Hex with the release of a trailer: Fairly or not, if Jonah Hex does badly, Fox may be stamped as box office poison.
May 19th, 2010: As happens every month or so, Nikki Finke issues the shot heard round the world: “I’ve just learned that Paramount won’t be picking up Megan Fox’s option on Transformers 3 — and that it was “ultimately” director Michael Bay’s decision. (So he gets his revenge for her remark comparing him to “Hitler”.) Right now Bay and writer Ehren Kruger et al are finishing up the script for the threequel and ‘giving Shia a new love interest makes more sense for the story,’ an insider tells me. Bay will start casting immediately for the new female co-star.” Fox’s people respond that it was her decision, the entertainment press largely concludes that it wasn’t: etc.
Aftermath: Rewind: Who actually cares about any of this? Even if you’re not endlessly immersed in the celebrity rags, the Megan Fox/Michael Bay fracas is an inherently interesting one because it’s about more than just the players involved: It’s about the balance of power in Hollywood. Megan Fox may have been the ‘star,’ but in axing her, Bay reminded us that big directors still hold the power. Mike Fleming thinks that Shia Leboeuf could be in trouble too (though not as much as Fox) for his own bashings of Transformers and Indiana Jones.
Did Bay shoot himself in the foot by getting rid of Megan Fox? We’ll have to wait until Transformers 3 comes out in July of 2011, but I would bet ‘no.’ And if the woman Bay picks is an unknown, it’s a good bet that she’ll be an instant superstar, both because of the movie and because of the inevitable manufactured rivalry between her and Megan Fox.
One thing is clear: Jonah Hex had better be a surprise hit, or Megan Fox’s career troubles will only continue.