Transformers Asia Junket Heats Up Seoul

Posted on Jun 12, 2007

By Lee Hyo-won
Staff Reporter

Director Michael Bay and rising star Megan Fox sizzled up Monday night’s Asia junket for their mega-action robot film “Transformers,” held at N Seoul Tower. The film’s character model Bumblebee, revealing its looming yellow 5.2-meter, 3.7-ton figure for the first time, also heated up the show.

“Korea is a huge emerging world market (in cinema),” the award-winning director told journalists that gathered from all over the world for the event. He was also “very happy” the world premier for his movie would take place here on June 28 (opens July 4 in the United States).

It is the first time a major Hollywood film held its opening press event in Korea. Artist Choe So-ri inaugurated the program with a stunning drum performance using fire and water, symbolizing the film’s dueling evil Decepticons and good Autobots, respectively.

Based on a popular American comic book and TV series of the same title, “Transformers” is about alien robot races battling on Earth to locate their long lost energy source, to which a teenager named Sam (Shia LaBoeuf) obliviously holds the key. With the help of Mikaela (Megan Fox), Sam and others join forces to save the planet.

During the press talk, Bay, 42, exerted much confidence about his film and its extensive appeal to both fans and non-fans, international and domestic.

“I grew up a non-`Transformers’ fan” he said, “so when Steven Spielberg called me a year and a half ago to direct this movie, I thought ah, it’d be a silly toy movie, (I’m) not really interested, but since then I became a gigantic `Transformers’ fan.” Bay says his favorite character is Optimus Prime, the “really cool” leader of the human-friendly Autobots.

The director explained that the film “has a kind of a universal appeal and it brings out the kid in you,” and that “it’s definitely something new and different you haven’t seen this summer, and by using really groundbreaking visual effects,” the film “appeals to a lot of different age ranges.”

Bay continued, “I like to do ideas that are big ideas that really travel around the world,” yet this film “was challenging because it was a cartoon. My job was to make it real and bring it to life on-screen.” He said it was tough working with 40 artists and developing the characters.

Bay is known for his visually stunning and star-making blockbuster movies: Ben Affleck and Owen Wilson rose to stardom through “Armageddon” (1998), Nicolas Cage became a megastar with “The Rock” (1996) and Josh Hartnett upgraded his heartthrob image with “Pearl Harbor” (2001).

Actress Megan Fox, heroine of the action-packed science-fiction film “Transformers,” poses in front of the robot character model Bumblebee, at the film’s opening press event in Seoul, Monday. /Yonhap.
For “Transformers,” newcomer Megan Fox beat the competition in nine auditions against some 600 other women from numerous countries. Although she hadn’t seen the script upon joining the cast, she said “I knew that Michael (Bay) was directing it and I knew that Steven (Spielberg) was producing it, and that’s all an actor needs to know to be excited to trying get involved in a project.

“I was looking for a job and ended up getting the best one,” she said.

How? “Just look at her,” Bay said.

The 21-year-old played a sexy and charismatic teenager on-screen, and told reporters that Bay wanted her to be stronger and tougher. Steering a truck at full speed with a super size robot trailing behind, the actress does define rough with a sexy touch.

Fox magnetized camera lenses as she posed for lengthy photo ops on the red carpet and onstage. Showing off her foxy grin and tattoos, including the one of Marilyn Monroe’s face on her right forearm, the actress waved to the excited crowd.

Great news for worldwide “Transformers” fans: Bay explained that the film’s finale was left slightly open-ended because there might be ” two, three, four and five and so on.

“But that all depends on you up there,” he said to a crowd of Koreans gathered near the venue’s terrace. Someone yelled “Hell yeah!” and Bay smiled, “Alright, there you go.”

As for the possibility of real world robots in the near future, Bay laughed, saying that “there definitely will be a massive alien robot war in the future,” in light of his own film. The alluring Ms. Fox added that artificial intelligence and the like “scare the crap out of me.”

Fox pleasantly surprised the local crowd by enthusiastically stating that “The Host” (2006) was her “favorite film” — “after `Transformers,”’ Bay insisted. The actress said the monster scared her enormously and that the fine acting in the Korean blockbuster was impressive.

About his second visit to Korea, Bay said the country has become “very big and crowded” ever since his trip here with his mother 20 years ago. For Fox, it was her first time traveling outside of the U.S., and thought Korea seemed beautiful.

Bay and Fox continued onto Australia to promote “Transformers.” The film recently won the American MTV award for “Best Summer Movie You Haven’t Seen Yet.”