Transformers: Characters and Actors

Shia LaBeouf is Sam Witwicky (Username: Ladiesman 217)

“Sam is just a normal kid,” says director Michael Bay. I didn’t want him to be the stud or the geek, just a normal Joe. He’s the type of guy who finds his edge through humor. He’s a little awkward, but you immediately like him. But like every guy, he’s consumed with getting his first car.

“Sam becomes a messenger for the robots,” LaBeouf says. “He referees the entire situation between the Autobots and the Decepticons. He’s the human anchor for the movie so that you can have this outlandish plot of two kids in high school with no special skills, no cape, no big gun, who get the upper hand over evil robots, the government, hackers, everyone.

“Robots aside, Sam is very sheltered, says LaBeouf, “he hasn’t seen much of the world, so he’s searching for an adventure. Of course, in his mind adventure comes in the form of a girl named Mikaela, but he finds out soon enough that his adventure is more than finding a girlfriend. When he’s first approached by Optimus, it’s not something he’s ready for, but through the course of the film he becomes a man. Sam starts as a kid with no responsibilities and big dreams, but his focus changes. His friendship with this girl grows from a shallow infatuation to a very intimate relationship and he finds a best friend and a guardian in these robots.”

Megan Fox is Mikaela Banes

Constantly teased about her last name and the style with which she wears the mantle, Megan Fox is undeniably an all-around good sport. In her first lead role, Fox was thrust into the limelight of a big action movie.

As Mikaela, 20-year-old Fox plays the hottest girl in high school who is not engrossed in the usual girlie interests and pursuits. Instead, she is a thinker who, like Sam, is looking for the next adventure life has to offer. “She’s from the wrong side of the tracks,” Fox explains. “She’s had a difficult family life and it’s made her tough. But she’s a sweet girl and when Sam is ridiculed by her boyfriend she sticks up for him and breaks up with her boyfriend over the incident; it’s all very melodramatic.”

“Mikaela’s also a tomboy,” she continues, “she likes to work with cars, and she gets sucked into the whole robot world by accident. It’s like she’s stuck in the middle with Sam and she feels she has to protect him.”

Aside from keeping pace with her co-star, the most difficult task was keeping her character believable. “How can you use Bumblebee in a sentence and connect to it” she asks. “How do you make talking to a 40-foot robot realistic, especially when your character is the human thread that connects the audience to the story It was our job to keep that balance, but for me it was the hardest part of the job.”

Fox’s favorite Transformer is Starscream. I’m biased,” she says, “because Starscream is the coolest toy in the series. He’s just badass.”

Josh Duhamel is Captain Lennox

Duhamel and his compatriots, including actors Tyrese Gibson, Amaury Nolasco and Zack Ward, attended a three-day boot camp, or basic training as it is termed in the Air Force, along with real-life soldiers who would be sharing scenes with them. Prior to beginning his military training, Duhamel took it upon himself to prepare as best he could and added a few pounds of muscle to his naturally lithe 185 pound, 6’3′ frame.

I’m carrying this 40-pound gun, wearing full body armor, the complete survival kit with magazines for this machine gun and all kinds of different stuff you need, and I’m running as hard as I can up the street, and I’m the leader of the group. I was dying after the first take! Then there’s take two, take three, and by the time we got to the fourth take, I could barely run,” he recalls.

Duhamel and his compatriots liked spending time on actual Air Force bases surrounded by real military personnel and equipment. Duhamel even spent the better part of one day at Holloman AFB training to take a ride with commanding officer Lt. Colonel David Moore in his T-38. His day began with a physical at the base hospital after which Technical Sergeant Andrew Baker fit Duhamel with his own flight suit and emergency gear. Next Major Ronald Keller prepared Duhamel with class lectures, slide shows, physical demonstrations and time in a cockpit simulator before he was permitted to climb into the back seat.

Tyrese Gibson is Technical Sergeant Epps

As a Combat Controller, Sergeant Epps is one of the most highly trained personnel in the Air Force, and as a member of a Special Tactics Team that includes Captain Lennox (Duhamel) and other several elite Army Rangers, he is responsible for leading those men into uncharted hostile territory, for reconnaissance, for establishing attack zones and to call in firepower should the need arise, along with a host of other duties too numerous to list. But most important, he and his fellow soldiers are the first line of defense when it comes to defending his country, her people and her allies.

To prepare for the role, Gibson spent time with an actual Combat Controller who was on leave after a tour in Iraq. In the Air Force for more than 20 years, Captain Ray Bollinger is a respected expert in his field and gave Gibson much of his technical dialogue for the desert sequences shot at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.

Spending time with Captain Bollinger and the Navy S.E.A.L.s who were cast as his team mates along with the many service men and women from Holloman, Fort Bliss and other bases gave Gibson and his fellow cast members a real respect for the people who serve in our armed forces and in the military units of other countries around the world.

John Turturro is Agent Simmons

One of the few actors to receive the entire script prior to cameras rolling was John Turturro. But even before he read the piece, Turturro knew the toys well. The father of two sons, a 16-year-old and a 6-year-old, he was put under a bit of pressure at home.

“My character lives in this secret society that obviously influences his behavior,” he says. “Sometimes the humor is silly, and you don’t want that to be burdensome to the character you’re developing, so you do it until the humor just becomes part of the character.”

“I’ve really enjoyed myself because I had the chance to be creative and imaginative,” Turturro says. “Sometimes on big films, you don’t get the chance to do that. It’s been great to be able to turn one of the most famous toys into a mythology, to be a part of something like that. It’s a film that has something for everyone.”

Jon Voight is Secretary Defense John Keller

Voight was happy to see the filmmakers made the effort to keep military personnel available at all times when he and anyone playing military roles were on set. It gives you a sense of what’s authentic,” he says noting the military representatives from the Air Force, Army and Navy, one of whom was always on set, along with Phil Strub, overseer of entertainment media for the Department of Defense at the Pentagon, who visited from time to time.

Anthony Anderson as Glen Whitmann

Anderson describes his character as a “computer genius-geek-nerd who is accidentally pulled into the government’s search for whatever is devouring all their secret system files and documents. “Maggie, my partner in crime, brings in Glen to help her decipher an electronic computer language that the Decepticons are speaking; she needs help, so she comes to the smart guy,” he says coyly.

“Glen’s nervous at first,” explains Anderson, “because he’s got a little addiction problem with hacking into highly classified systems like the Pentagon’s, which he’s done more than a few times. He can’t help himself, he’s drawn to it; he loves the excitement. He’s just never been caught before. But this time, he really doesn’t want to be in the mix with angry alien robots.

Despite his initial reluctance, Glen cannot help but be spellbound as he begins tapping into the aliens’ communications, breaking their code. Glen knows their innermost secrets,” the actor says, “but it’s frightening and disturbing. I mean, it’s Defcon 38. Talk about heightened security levels; we’re at fuchsia, man!”

Rachael Taylor is Maggie Madsen

At 22, Taylor is relatively new to Hollywood having recently emigrated from her native Tasmania via Australia. TRANSFORMERS is her first American film and the first she had ever heard of the Transformers toy franchise. After accepting the job, there was some debate as to her character’s nationality–should she be American Australian British The filmmakers finally opted for her native accent.

Taylor likens her character’s circumstance at work with her own on the film. “Maggie can’t keep her mouth shut to save her life,” she says. “She tells the Secretary of Defense exactly what she thinks and then immediately regrets it afterwards. It’s not that she doesn’t speak the truth she just needs to pick her moments with more care. She’s a woman trying to succeed in a man’s world, which parallels my experience shooting TRANSFORMERS because it’s only Megan and me in a world dominated by men.”

Working as a consultant for the US government, Maggie and her team are some of the best and brightest data analysts. Secretary of Defense Keller calls upon her group and others to help unmask the unidentified menace attacking the world. When Maggie realizes that the mainframe has been hacked, she calls the only person smarter than she is, her buddy, Glen. Glen and Maggie are an odd couple, to be sure. “But that’s what makes the match work so well,” says Anderson. “Opposites attract.”