How Transformers: Dark Of The Moon Dealt With Megan Fox’s Last-Minute Departure

By the time Michael Bay made 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” the director had become intimately familiar with the mechanics of making the gargantuan film series. It might have taken convincing from executive producer Steven Spielberg, but Bay made the franchise synonymous with his brand of blockbuster. The first two films in the series were mᴀssive productions that achieved mᴀssive success, at least commercially, and the third one would be even bigger.

Throughout the making of the series, production difficulties were surmounted by Bay in his typically forward-looking, pragmatic manner. According to Super Hero Hype, he had kept the budget down on the 2007 original film by striking an exclusive deal with General Motors for the cars. Shortly after, the 2007-08 Writers Strike had frozen development on the sequel “Revenge of the Fallen,” which led to Bay locking the writers in a H๏τel room to finish the script the minute the strike ended.

But the biggest difficulty the series had faced yet came after the release of “Revenge,” when Bay and the filmmakers would scrap female lead Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox). Fox had been essential to the movies, which used her as the wish-fulfillment love interest for their prospective teen boy audience. While capitalizing on her appearance, the movies gave the star little to do besides look good and serve as a magnet for legions of online haters.

Nobody could agree on why exactly Fox and Bay parted ways on “Dark of the Moon.” But given the fairly large supporting cast that stayed constant through the series, her abrupt departure was notable. It was also disruptive for the sequel, meaning the filmmakers had to navigate it quickly.

Dream casting

While the first three Michael Bay “Transformers” movies deal with the adventures of Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) a young man who comes of age in the midst of an alien war taking place on Earth, his supporting cast was essential to the movies’ success. It wasn’t just about the still-stunning special effects or over-the-top explosions. The fact that there was an expansive group of people who had their own relationships with the Autobots and Decepticons gave the movies a realistic sensibility that kept the blockbuster spectacle a little bit grounded.

Sam having a girlfriend like Mikaela helped too. Casting a woman who would go on to be called the “world’s Sєxiest woman” by British men’s magazine FHM (per BBC) was a major coup for the series. While Sam was a dork who screamed and struggled, Mikaela was cool and confident, and somehow she liked him. For the movie’s intended teen boy audience, it was obvious why.

Michael Bay had only asked Megan Fox two questions before hiring her for the role, making sure she was ready to do a lot of physical work and also have her body on full display. Seeing both the original and 2009’s “Revenge of the Fallen,” it’s clear that both were the case — she ran around as much as Shia LaBeouf and bared her midriff a lot more. The sH๏τs of her working on cars are like Bay making pin-ups in motion, just as maximalist as the carnage.

While Bay might have cast Fox in a star-making role, and both she and the series benefited in some ways from the ᴀssociation, the two did not have an especially positive relationship.

Greener pastures

With the 2009 film “Jennifer’s Body,” Megan Fox was given the chance to be in a movie that offered her a bit of artistic leeway. Per The Numbers, that movie had a budget of $16 million, just a little over 1/10 of the budget of the first “Transformers” film. The smaller canvas let Fox play an actual character, a horror movie villain, something that could truly reveal her talent as she tapped into her dark side.

“Jennifer’s Body” wasn’t immediately recognized as the cult hit viewers love today. Fox, having broken free of the Mikaela Banes characterization, was still criticized and objectified by the misogynistic online media apparatus. It was as if “Revenge of the Fallen,” one of the biggest hits of the summer of 2009, had suffocated her career for the time being, limiting her to being Michael Bay’s pin-up muse.

Bay might have had a reputation for being a taskmaster when it comes to running sets, demanding the best of his cast and crew while working extremely fast. Still, the “Transformers” productions saw him giving a lot of love to the expansive supporting cast. As he told Super Hero Hype while promoting the first movie, “I love working with actors, I love giving actors freedom, I love improv-ing with actors.” That might have been the case for everybody except Megan Fox, who didn’t mince words when talking about his dictatorial tendencies.

“He wants to be like Hitler on his sets,” she had told Wonderland magazine. “A nightmare to work for. […] He’s all H๏τ air.”

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