Tyrese Gibson returns as Robert Epps in this thrilling conclusion to Michael Bay’s ‘robots in disguise’ trilogy
Director Michael Bay has saved the best for last, as his trilogy ending Transformers: Dark of the Moon promises to be one of the most thrilling, bombastic, eye-swelling adventures of this summer. Those who’ve seen it, love it, and it just may save 3D as an art form. Transformers: Dark of the Moon is the true definition of summer cinema.
While Optimus Prime, Bumblebee, Soundwave, and a whole army of Autobots and Decepticons make this high-octane punch in the face the movie it is, it just wouldn’t be complete without returning cast members Shia LaBeouf, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, and John Turturro, who all manage to take the franchise out on a graceful, heartfelt note.
We recently met up with Tyrese Gibson to chat about the film, which finds the actor reprising his role as USAF Combat Controller Technical Sergeant Robert Epps, a man now sufering from post-stress disorder after his adventures in the first two Transformers films. The actor discussed quite a bit, including his thoughts on Michael Bay as a director, who might take over the directorial reigns of Transfomers 4, and how he truly feels about Mudflap and Skids. He also wants us to check out his New York Times best selling book How to Get Out of Your Own Way.
Here is our conversation.
I don’t mean this in a disparaging way, but when I saw you and Josh Duhamel in the first Transformers, I didn’t think you’d ever be coming back for thirds. When you got the first movie, did you have any idea that your character would carry on through two more sequels?
Tyrese Gibson: To be honest, when we did the first one, none of us knew how the fans were going to respond. We didn’t know if they would even show up for the film. I never once thought, “Man, I hope we come back for a part 2.” Let alone part 3. We were just hoping to get through it. We hoped that the fans would show up and respond to the movie. Just because you go off and spend $150 million doesn’t mean people are going to show up. I think we’ve all seen that.
How much has Robert Epps evolved as a character from the first one, and how much input have you had in taking this character in a new direction? If we’re to believe a lot of what we’ve heard about the second film, the script wasn’t completed, and some of those character-defining moments rested on your shoulders as an actor…
Tyrese Gibson: I think, versus targeting one or two departments or areas as to why a film wasn’t as special or as good…We can easily point fingers. We are all a team. Ultimately, we were all excited. We did part 2, and there were a few moments that could have been bigger, and better, and more special. But it is what it is. I would say for part 3, I have never been on a Transformers set, out of all three movies, and felt like we were doing something as epic or as big. The scope and the magnitude of Transformers: Dark of the Moon felt huge. It was very focused, too, this time. There was no point where we didn’t know what was going on. Shia LaBeouf brought his A game, as always. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the new girl, came on board and really stepped up. She found her comfort zone, and took it in stride. Josh Duhamel and I were on the set, laughing, and doing what we do. Kicking arse. I think, ultimately, some people do films because of the money that they are given. We all came into this one with the goal of making the fans proud. In some aspects, we felt like we let them down on Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. That is a big thought to carry with you going into a part 3.
Have you seen Dark of the Moon yet?
Tyrese Gibson: I have seen the whole thing from top to bottom, man. I am a movie buff, bro. And there is some stuff in this movie that I have never witnessed before in my life on film!
Can you give me a hint of what those moments involve? I mean, we’re hearing nothing but great things about Trans3…
Tyrese Gibson: I am not going to be the first one to give away a spoiler. You are not going to put that on me!
Don’t give it away. Just give me a taste. From what I understand, the robots completely decimate Chicago…
Tyrese Gibson: Yes. The folks of Chicago gave us access to do anything and everything we wanted. Wherever, whenever, however. It was just crazy. Mayor Daly at the time said, “Whatever you want to do, just do it.” We are jumping off the Sears Tower, and the Trump Tower. Shutting down Michigan Avenue to make it look like the scene of a disaster. It was just crazy. There are people who live in Chicago, they have been there for 30 or 40 years, they were born and raised there, and they have never seen Michigan Avenue shut down for anybody, and they have never seen it look the way it looks. There are photos all over the Internet that show how crazy we made the city look. Then you put some Transformers in there, and it brings shit up to a whole other level.
One of the few scenes we’ve really seen from the movie is where these skydivers are jumping off the Trump Tower. How involved with those stunts were you?
Tyrese Gibson: We jumped, but we definitely did not jump off no buildings, my brother! I have nothing but respect for those dudes. Those dudes are definitely living their lives on the edge. Please believe that. It was crazy. I was there one time when those guys came down off the roof. Off the Trump Tower. They landed in the middle of the street. We walked over, “Yo, man! How was it?” And the dude was like, “It was fucking awesome!” His hands were shaking, his feet were shaking…He was trembling and shaking in his boots, man! Its like, man, these dudes are really jumping off these buildings. And they are really scared. Even though they are enjoying the adrenalin aspects of it, they are really scared. I said, “Well, if you are shaking in your boots? I would probably die.” (Laughs) It’s really something. Those guys came together and brought something special for us. Michael Bay had seen a documentary on those guys. He had the producer track them down. They ended up in the movie. I just hope no one tries that shit from the movie. Don’t go home and wrap yourself up in a bed sheet, then try to jump off a building. Because you will probably die.
There has been quite a bit of noise surrounding the 3D in Dark of the Moon. Having seen the movie yourself, how do you feel it improves the overall experience of seeing this one on the big screen?
Tyrese Gibson: Listen, man…One thing I am most proud of, and I say this as an actor and a member of this franchise, one of the most iconic and legendary directors out there, a visionary, one of the most brilliant, forward thinking dudes is James Cameron. For him to be speaking so loudly, and to be having so much energy around Transformers: Dark of the Moon is really great. It says a lot. It speaks volumes on what Michael Bay was able to accomplish with shooting this film. I believe, because I have seen it, that the 3D is not overwhelming. I have never sat through a 3D film in its entirety without feeling sick. Feeling a little nausea. Because that’s just me. I sat through this film, and I was very comfortable. It wasn’t overwhelming. There isn’t too much stuff jumping out at you. Making you feel like you are about to go nuts. I think its something that the fans are going to enjoy. To see this type of depth, and these layers around a film filled with robots…Its really going to be fun for the fans that show up, and for all of the new fans as well.
We’ve all heard the stories about how intense a director Michael Bay can be. With this being the third film in, have you guys developed a short hand, and does he feel more comfortable pushing you to certain limits that you both may not have strived for when first working together and getting to know each other on Transformers Part 1?
Tyrese Gibson: Yes. That is the thing. As demanding as he is of his actors and his crew on the set, he also demands that much of himself. To take it a step further, Michael Bay is very loyal. When people understand him, and they get him, he likes to stick to his original team. I think that played a role in all of us coming back for 1, 2, and 3. He thought, “This was the biggest movie I have ever directed. Internationally. I have to have my dream team back!” If Michael Bay decides to come back for Transfomers 4, I’ll be there. We’ll make it happen.
What is happening with 4? Shia has already confirmed that he is not coming back for another sequel.
Tyrese Gibson: I don’t know. I think we are all exhausted with the process. If this movie does what we are all assuming it’s going to do, then, I think its time to revisit that conversation. When it’s time. There are no concepts, no direction, no nothing for Transfomers 4, because everyone has been so focused on Transformers: Dark of the Moon. But here is the safety net. Are you ready for this?
So you’re saying that Steven Spielberg will come in and direct Transformers 4?
Tyrese Gibson: Yes. From what I’ve heard, from when I first came on board, Michael Bay‘s exact words to me were, “Steven was approached about making Transformers. He felt that I had more of an eye for it. So he approached me about doing it. I went and did my research and my due diligence. I have decided that I am going to direct this movie.” He was like, “Are you interested in being a part of this?” I was like, “Abso-fucking-lutely! Let’s go!” I am a real Transformers fan. Some folks are doing movies that they are not really fans of. They are doing it just for the check. I have a Transformers tattoo on my forearm. I love Transformers for real. I am not saying that Steven Spielberg is for a fact going to direct Transfomers 4. But it is a beautiful safety net to know that one of the biggest, most respected directors in the world happens to be an executive producer on Transformers. He is someone who knows this world inside out. And he could easily step in and direct Transfomers 4 if he decided to.
That would be fun to see what he had in store for this world. I’d have to imagine that it would be a slightly different experience.
Tyrese Gibson: The thing is, there are a lot of directors who deal with producers who happen to not be Steven Spielberg. Or of that magnitude. So if they decide to bow out of their film, they are sent scrambling. Who can we get to direct this? What a hell of a safety net this is if Michael Bay decides not to come back. Steven Spielberg could easily step in and make it happen.
As you said, everyone at this point is still concentrating on Part 3, and we haven’t seen too much from the movie just yet. What are some of the new robots that are your favourites? And do we see your character bonding with any particular robots in this instalment ?
Tyrese Gibson: I am bonding with them. I do have more of a relationship with the robots. Two conversations go down with them. I have bit of a gag order on me. I can’t speak on too much. All I can say is that, to the fans, “We heard you, we heard you, and we heard you after Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen! Transformers: Dark of the Moon will not let you down!”
One of the biggest criticisms aimed at Transformers 2 is that Mudflap and Skips are offensive racial stereotypes that should have never made it into the movie. I have never heard your opinion on them, and why you think its important that they don’t make an appearance in Transformers 3.
Tyrese Gibson: I never liked those characters, and I am glad they’re not back. I think that every nationality in the world deserves to walk out of a movie and still feel good about themselves. I think it’s a responsibility to the fans. I just didn’t like some of the things they were saying, and the way they were going about whatever it was they were doing in the film. To be honest, I didn’t think that they added to the movie at all. I guess (Michael Bay) was just feeling something out. Moving on, we’re here now. Let’s go ahead and close it out. We’ll close it out with Trans3: Dark of the Moon!
It’s the 10 year anniversary of Baby Boy. That movie put you on the map! Are you planning anything special to celebrate that milestone?
Tyrese Gibson: Me and Taraji P. Henson are on the cover of Ebony Magazine for the 10 Year anniversary. I am just enjoying the highs of having a New York Times best selling book with How to Get Out of Your Own Way. The reviews have been very emotional for me, and overwhelming. All of the Tweets that are coming in, with people saying that the book is changing their lives. It has caused a shift in their life. These are the things you look forward to. We could all make a shit load of money, and go off and do these huge films. That type of thing. But you want to know where your impact lies at the end. One of my proudest things, coming off of Fast Five and going into Transformers: Dark of the Moon…I just finished my new album, I am mastering it this week. The thing I am most proud of this year, other than my music, is this book. I am really proud of it. I just got a letter from Michelle Obama. She sent it from the White House. She read my book. She gave me so much love and positive energy. Oprah Winfrey has been tweeting about it. Halle Berry has been reading it. It’s unbelievable. The book is a motivational self-help book. I used film references to make a point with certain things I talk about in the book. It’s a really strong book. I can’t explain it more.
We’ve heard rumours about a Four Brothers sequel. Is that ever going to happen?
Tyrese Gibson: Five Brothers. I have been in talks with Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer. Paramount just needs to get as excited as we are about it, so that we can just go shoot this movie. I would love to do Five Brothers. Its one of the movies that, wherever I go, people are walking up to me and talking about that movie. The movie is already written. John Singleton did some of the writing. We have the writer from the original one. We are all ready to go, man. It’s just a matter of when it’s going to happen, and when they are going to officially green light it. We are all excited to get into this Five Brothers. Now, listen, if you are a huge fan, I can only encourage you to go and get my book, bro. It’s not some fake celebrity, plastic, superficial book with me talking about how great I am the whole time. This is a real book. I put my heart into those pages. And I encourage any fans of Movieweb to go out and buy it, and get a hold of it!
Transformers: Dark of the Moon comes to theatres June 29th, 2011 and stars Shia LaBeouf, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Julie White, Kevin Dunn, Josh Duhamel, Tyrese Gibson, Alan Tudyk, John Malkovich. The film is directed by Michael Bay.
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