Interview: Icon Michael Bay

He made Megan Fox, broke into Alcatraz, and put toys on the big screen. Now it’s Pain & Gain time.

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He made Megan Fox, broke into Alcatraz, and put toys on the big screen. Now it’s Pain & Gain time.

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Photo by Larry Marano/Getty

What drew you to a relatively explosion-free movie like Pain & Gain right after making Transformers: Dark of the Moon

People go, “Oh, this is his passion project.” It’s not my passion project. It’s just a cool project that was sitting on my shelf. I liked that the point of the movie is people are unhappy with what they’ve got. And it’s fun to watch dumb criminals.

It takes place in Miami around the time you shot your first feature, Bad Boys. What was it like running around Miami in the ’90s with Will Smith and Martin Lawrence?

It was fun, but I was a young, nervous director. Don Simpson, Jerry Bruckheimer’s partner, came in the day before I started shooting Bad Boys, and he said, “Jerry, we’re taking our name off this picture. This picture sucks.” So I worked extra hard, but it was fun.

What about Miami in 2012 with Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne Johnson?

Completely boring. Dwayne has this crazy workout schedule. “I wake up at 3:50 a.m., and I work out.” And Wahl­berg’s like, “Mike, I can’t hang out with you. I’m married.” But I love the guys.

You’ve already got Wahlberg signed on for the fourth Transformers. Was he that great in Pain & Gain?

As we’re working, Dwayne would go, “Hey, I wanna get on Transformers.” And then Mark would go, “Hey, Mike. So what about this Transformers thing?” I called my agent, who is also Mark and Dwayne’s agent, and asked about availabilities. Dwayne had just signed on to Hercules, so I’m like, “OK, I’m comin’ after Mark.” But I’ve always wanted to work with Dwayne. I actually was gonna put him in the first Transformers.”

Are you still looking for the female lead for Transformers 4?

We found her. She’s 17 years old; she plays Mark’s daughter. It’s a totally different vibe. The first one was about a boy attaining a girl that he thought he could never get. And he uses his alien car to do it. This is a completely different “father-daughter and her young boyfriend” kind of story.

Speaking of that unattainable girl, you’re reuniting with Megan Fox on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Was this a long time coming?

It just kind of happened. She wrote me an e-mail a while back. She goes, “I just had a baby, and I’ve been thinking about my life. I owe you such an apology.” But I don’t hold a grudge. She was young when she said it [compared Bay to Hitler]. The press made it bigger than what it really was, and she’ll be good in the movie. 

How do you feel about Hollywood’s current reboot and remake culture?

Too much. Hollywood has to start finding more original stuff.

How should they do that, you think?

They’ve got to start by not depending on, “What can we churn back out? How can we regurgitate this?” That’s why I want to redo the feel of Transformers. That’s why I wanted to start with a new cast. You want it to feel fresh, and you want to make it feel different than the other three.

At Propaganda Films, the legen­dary music video production company from the ’90s, your office was across from David Fincher’s. Any crazy stories from those days?

I remember hearing yelling and then a crash. I think it was Fincher’s girlfriend at the time. She took a gigantic old Hollywood photo that we had in the office and cracked it over his head. 

We’ve gotta ask: What’s it like to shoot a Victoria’s Secret ad?

They bring in tons of heels, and I walk in there knowing nothing about fashion. I just go from a guy’s perspective. I say, “Those suck. What are those effin’ chunky heels? Get ’em out of here.” And they’re like, “But these are in style!” “I don’t care. They’re gonna be out of style in a week. Guys don’t like chunky heels. Get rid of ’em.”

Do you have any words for the young men whose boyhood crushes you’ve created on-screen?

Films make everything too beautiful. That’s not real life. Honestly, doing Victoria’s Secret is the most nonsexual job in the world. I don’t pick up anybody I work with. It’s kind of bizarre, but I could be shooting a glazed donut. There have only been a couple of moments where I actually went, “Wow!” 

Get more movie coverage with the new Thor trailer and The Best Movie Sequels They Never Made.

Want girls instead? Check out more Michael Bay ladies, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley and Bar Paly.