THEN AND NOW: The cast of ‘Transformers’ 14 years later
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- The first “Transformers” film was released almost 14 years ago, in July 2007.
- The film made over $700 million and went on to spawn four more sequels and a prequel, “Bumblebee.”
- After the film, both Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox, who turns 35 on May 16, became immediate stars.
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Megan Fox became an instant star when she took on the role of Sam’s (Shia LaBeouf) crush, Mikaela Banes.
Fox was essentially an unknown when she was cast in the film as Sam’s love interest, Mikaela. She had played the villain in “Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen” and the Olsen twins film “Island in the Sun,” but that was it.
After “Transformers,” Fox became a sex symbol overnight. Her first big starring role outside of the franchise, the black comedy/horror film “Jennifer’s Body,” satirized this by turning her into a literal man-eater, a succubus.
Fox was fired from the “Transformers” franchise after she had public beef with director Michael Bay, calling him “a nightmare to work with,” and comparing him to Hitler. She subsequently was written out of the third film. They have since made up, though.
In 2021, Fox’s career is getting a second look from critics and fans who blamed sexism for a perceived lack of roles.
After the “Transformers” drama with Bay, Fox laid low for a few years, concentrating on her marriage to former “Beverly Hills, 90210” star Brian Austin Green. She resurfaced for the 2014 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” reboot and its 2016 sequel, as well as the “Knocked Up” spin-off, “This Is 40.”
In 2016, she also appeared in a recurring role on “New Girl,” originally when Zooey Deschanel’s Jess went on jury duty (in real life, Deschanel was on maternity leave), and due to the positive reception, she appeared again in season six more frequently.
Fox has multiple films in the works, but has recently been in headlines for the dissolution of her marriage to Green, and her subsequent relationship with rapper Machine Gun Kelly. The two sparked relationship rumors when she starred in his music video for “Bloody Valentine,” and ever since they have been PDA-heavy on Instagram.
Last summer, a clip of her on Jimmy Kimmel’s show went viral. In the clip, Fox explained to Kimmel that she had been sexualized as a teen in Hollywood, including when she worked on Bay’s film “Bad Boys II” at 15, and the host proceeded to make a joke about it.
Fox, for her part, explained on Instagram that she was “never assaulted or preyed upon in what I felt was a sexual manner” by Bay (or producer Steven Spielberg).
Shia LaBeouf played Sam Witwicky, the “Transformers” franchise’s first hero — a normal teenager who gets caught up in a thousand-year-old alien conflict.
LaBeouf played the film’s protagonist, Sam, who after finding a pair of glasses from one of his ancestors gets swept into the war of the Autobots, a benevolent race of sentient alien machines, and the Decepticons, who wish to take over the world.
At the time, LaBeouf was just starting to break out of his Disney Channel persona — he had starred in “Even Stevens” for years, and his only major films at the time were Disney’s “Holes” and the “Rear Window”-esque “Disturbia.”
However, in 2008, LaBeouf would appear as the heir apparent to Harrison Ford in “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.” He kept appearing in franchise films, with two more “Transformers” films, and in the 2010 “Wall Street” sequel, “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.”
LaBeouf was sued by ex FKA Twigs in 2020 for alleged “sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.”
After he exited the “Transformers” franchise in 2011, LaBeouf’s career had ups and downs. In 2013, he appeared in Lars von Trier’s mega-explicit epic “Nymphomaniac,” which signaled a more experimental phase of his career.
In 2014, in addition to his role in the Brad Pitt-led war film “Fury,” LaBeouf, now 34, became involved in performance art. Famously, he showed up to the red carpet of the Berlin Film Festival wearing a paper bag over his head with the words “I am not famous anymore” written on it, followed by a six-day performance in which participants waited their turn to sit in a room alone with LaBeouf as he sat in the tuxedo and paper bag, crying. During this era, he was also arrested and charged with disorderly conduct at an NYC theater. He pleaded guilty and sought treatment for alcoholism.
The rest of the 2010s were filled with music video appearances, more performance art, a few high profile relationships, another arrest in 2017, and an extremely popular GIF of LaBeouf standing in front of a green screen yelling, “Just do it.” He also starred in two critically acclaimed films, “The Peanut Butter Falcon” and “Honey Boy.”
In 2020, his ex FKA Twigs sued him for “sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress,” according to the New York Times, citing “relentless abuse,” and claimed that he knowingly gave her an STI.
He apologized, saying in part, “I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”
Speaking to Gayle King on CBS in February 2021, FKA Twigs said of the apology: “I think it reminds me of some of the gaslighting I experienced when I was with him — the taking some of the blame, but not all of it and then denying it.”
Tyrese Gibson was already known for his music and roles in the “Fast and Furious” franchise when he played Sergeant Robert Epps in “Transformers.”
Gibson’s character Epps was part of the Air Force team that initially battled the Decepticons in the beginning of the movie. He became an ally to Sam and Mikaela. Gibson reprised his role in the two sequels, and was set to to reappear in 2017’s “Transformers: The Last Knight,” but couldn’t due to scheduling conflicts.
By the time Gibson had appeared in “Transformers,” audiences already knew him well due to his role as Roman Pearce in the “Fast and Furious” films — he appeared in 2003’s “2 Fast 2 Furious.”
Gibson also had a successful R&B career in the ’90s and 2000s, before he focused on acting.
Gibson is still acting and producing music. He’s set to appear in the new “Fast and Furious” film.
As stated, Gibson was going to reappear in the fifth “Transformers” film, “The Last Knight,” but couldn’t due to his commitments to “The Fate of the Furious.” To date, Gibson has appeared in six “Fast” movies: “2 Fast 2 Furious,” “Fast Five,” “Fast & Furious 6,” “Furious 7,” “The Fate of the Furious,” and the upcoming “F9.”
Gibson, 42, is also set to appear in 2022’s “Morbius,” which is part of Sony’s extended universe based on “Spider-Man” characters.
Musically, he released an album in 2015, and competed on the fifth season of “The Masked Singer” as the Robopine.
Josh Duhamel played Captain William Lennox, an Army ranger who joins the battle with Sam and his friends.
Duhamel’s Captain Lennox takes on a Decepticon himself in the film, Blackstar. He’s appeared in four of the five major “Transformers” films — he skipped 2014’s “Age of Extinction,” and is one of the saga’s protagonists and allies of the Autobots.
At the time, Duhamel was mainly known as a soap star, as he had starred on “All My Children” from 1999 until 2002, and even won a Daytime Emmy. His only starring movie role was 2004’s “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!” in which he played the titular role.
Duhamel is known to younger audiences now as the dad from “Love, Simon” and “Jupiter’s Legacy.”
Duhamel, 48, starred in his fair share of mediocre rom-coms through the 2010s, including “When in Rome,” “Life as We Know It,” the Nicholas Sparks adaptation “Safe Haven,” and “New Year’s Eve.” In 2018, he starred as Simon’s dad in “Love, Simon,” introducing him to a whole new generation.
He reunited with one-time “Transformers” co-star Megan Fox in 2020’s “Think Like a Dog,” and is also known for his voice role in 2017’s “Call of Duty: WWII.”
In 2009, Duhamel married pop star Fergie, and they have one son together. They divorced in 2019.
Duhamel is set to have a pretty good year, so far. In 2021, he starred in Netflix’s superhero show “Jupiter’s Legacy” as the Utopian, a Superman-like character, and was recast in the Armie Hammer role in Jennifer Lopez’s upcoming rom-com, “Shotgun Wedding.” He is also voicing Harvey Dent in the upcoming animated Batman film, “Batman: The Long Halloween, Part One.”
Anthony Anderson was already a famous comedic actor when he played hacker Glen Whitmann.
Anderson’s character, Glenn, was arrested in the film for trying to assist his friend Maggie in decoding a secret message left by the Decepticons — they were both arrested for being in possession of FBI secrets. He did not reappear in subsequent films.
At the time, Anderson was already known for his roles in comedic films like “Barbershop,” “Kangaroo Jack,” “Me, Myself & Irene,” and “Agent Cody Banks 2: Destination London.” He had also starred in his own short-lived sitcom, “All About the Andersons,” and recurred on “The Bernie Mac Show” and “The Shield.”
Anderson, now, is primarily known for his portrayal of Dre Johnson on “Black-ish,” for which he has been nominated for nine Emmys.
Anderson, 50, started to focus more on TV after his role in “Transformers.” His starring role in “Black-ish,” for which he is also an executive producer, began in 2014. The show has been running for six seasons (with a seventh on the way). It has also spawned two spin-offs: “Grown-ish” and “Mixed-ish.”
Besides “Black-ish,”Anderson also appeared in 50 episodes of “Law & Order” as Detective Kevin Barnard, reprised his role as JD in 2016’s “Barbershop: The Next Cut,” and had voice roles in animated films “The Star” and “Ferdinand.”
Rachael Taylor played former NSA analyst Maggie Madsen, who figures out that aliens have been leaving coded messages.
Maggie is the first person who suggests the coded messages discovered in government files aren’t human — for this discovery, she’s promptly fired. She then decides to enlist her friend Glenn (Anderson) to help solve the mystery themselves — they are arrested, and Taylor didn’t appear in any other “Transformers” films.
At the time, Taylor was primarily known in her home country of Australia, as she had starred in the Australian drama series “Headland.” “Transformers” was only her third movie role after 2005’s “Man-Thing” and 2006’s “See No Evil.”
Taylor starred in three seasons of “Jessica Jones” as Trish Walker, who eventually gained superhero powers of her own.
Taylor, 36, worked steadily throughout the 2010s, starring in failed shows like the “Charlie’s Angels” reboot and “666 Park Avenue,” and had a recurring role on “Grey’s Anatomy.” But her mainstream breakout role came when she was cast in Netflix’s “Jessica Jones,” as Trish Walker. As “Jessica Jones” was part of the extended MCU, as well as Netflix’s mini-Marvel universe, Taylor also appeared in “Luke Cage,” and “The Defenders” as Walker, as well.
Technically, her role as Walker/Hellcat is canon — so though the shows were canceled, she could still pop up in future MCU projects.
John Turturro played Sector 7 agent Seymour Simmons, who knows about the existence of the Autobots and the Decepticons.
Turturro’s character comes into the movie once Sam figures out that his glasses, passed down from his ancestor, play a vital role in this conflict between the two dueling factions of aliens. Sector 7 is a para-military organization that specializes with alien threats like these. While Sam and Seymour don’t initially get along, the two became unlikely allies as the series progressed. Turturro appeared in the first three films, as well as “The Last Knight.” A younger version of his character, played by Nick Pilla, appeared in the 2018 prequel “Bumblebee.”
Turturro is an iconic character actor, writer, and filmmaker in his own right — his presence added some legitimacy to the film. At the time, he had already been in iconic films like “Do the Right Thing,” “The Big Lebowski,” “Barton Fink,” and “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” among others.
Turturro has two big films in the next two years: Guillermo del Toro’s stop-motion “Pinocchio” and “The Batman.”
Turturro, 64, is still appearing in both blockbuster action films, as well as prestige TV. He appeared in two of HBO’s acclaimed miniseries, “The Night Of” and “The Plot Against America.”
Besides “Transformers,” he also starred in “The Taking of Pelham 123” and “Exodus: Gods and Kings.” He also wrote, directed, and starred in the 2019 film “The Jesus Rolls.”
The next two years are set to be big for Turturro: He has a new role in Guillermo del Toro’s “Pinocchio,” and is going to play famed “Batman” villain Carmine Falcone in the Robert Pattinson-led “Batman” film in 2022. He’s also appearing in the Apple TV series “Severance” starring Adam Scott and Patricia Arquette.
Oscar winner Jon Voight played the US Secretary of Defense John Keller. The film saw him reunited with his “Holes” co-star, LaBeouf.
Voight’s character, Secretary Keller, was unaware of the existence of alien life until the agents of Sector 7 debriefed him — understandably, he was angry. At the end of the film, he orders Sector 7 to be terminated, and to get rid of all the Decepticon bodies by dumping them in the ocean, theoretically stopping them for good (it didn’t work). Voight didn’t reprise the role in any subsequent films.
2007 was a busy year for Voight, as “Transformers” and “National Treasure: Book of Secrets” were both released. Of course, the actor was already a legend by the time “Transformers” had rolled around. Voight began acting in 1967. In those 40 years, Voight had starred in “Midnight Cowboy,” “Deliverance,” “Coming Home,” “Runaway Train,” “Heat,” “Mission: Impossible,” “Enemy of the State,” “Varsity Blues,” “Pearl Harbor,” and “Ali,” among many others.
Voight is also the father of none other than Angelina Jolie.
Voight won a Golden Globe in 2013 for his role in “Ray Donovan.”
Voight, 82, is still consistently acting. In 2020, he apppeared in “Roe v. Wade,” a dramatization of the Supreme Court case that decided that the right to an abortion without excessive restrictions from the government is a constitutional right. Next year, he’ll appear in the Dennis Quaid-led “Reagan” biopic as Viktor Novikov.
He also has appeared in “Ray Donovan,” “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” and “24.”
Michael O’Neill played the shady head of Sector 7, Tom Banachek.
Banachek led Sector 7, a top-secret military agency that not even Defense Secretary Keller knew about. Banachek was in charge of covering up the existence of the transformers, and kept the evil Megatron frozen inside the Hoover Dam to experiment on. This was his only appearance in the “Transformers” franchise.
O’Neill was primarily a television actor at the time, most well-known for his government agent roles. He played Secret Service agent Ron Butterfield throughout “The West Wing,” the leader of CTU for the first two episodes of “24,” and police officers in various procedurals like “JAG,” “NYPD Blue,” “ER,” and “The X-Files.”
Most TV fans know him now as hospital shooter Gary Clark from season six of “Grey’s Anatomy.”
O’Neill, who turns 70 in May, is a working actor and continues to appear in TV shows frequently. Since 2016, he’s appeared in episodes of “11.22.63,” “S.W.A.T.,” “Shooter,” “Scandal,” “The Resident,” “The Romanoffs,” “Jack Ryan,” “Council of Dads,” “The Messiah,” and “This Is Us.”
But all “Grey’s” fans recognize O’Neill for his upsetting arc in season six, when played Clark, a man whose wife dies — and though she has a DNR order (do not resuscitate), he is unable to let her go, and blames the hospital for her death. Tragically, Clark returns to the hospital in the two-part finale for some of the most harrowing episodes of the show ever — which is saying a lot — that ends in the deaths of multiple doctors and patients, a miscarriage, and cases of PTSD for many of the survivors. The effects of the shooting are still felt in season 17, more than 10 years later.
Kevin Dunn played Sam’s well-meaning dad, Ron.
Sam’s dad’s most famous moment comes from the beginning of the film, in which he pranks Sam by taking him to a Porsche dealership, before he reveals that Sam’s actually getting a used car — which works out, because that’s how Sam meets Bumblebee. Ron appeared in the two “Transformers” sequels that LaBeouf appeared in, “Revenge of the Fallen” and “Dark of the Moon.”
Dunn was a frequent character actor at the time of his appearance, most famously he played White House Communications Director Alan Reed in “Dave,” starring Kevin Kline. He starred in the late ’90s show “Godzilla” and in Christina Applegate’s sitcom “Christina Who?”
Dunn appeared in over 50 episodes of “Veep.”
Dunn, 64, is most recognizable now for his role as Ben Cafferty, the chief of staff for both the unseen former president and for Selina when she becomes the president in season three. He was a recurring character in season two and joined the main cast in season three, remaining until the end.
As part of the ensemble, he received the SAG Award in 2018 for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series.
He’s also had recurring roles in “True Detective” and “Code Black.”
In 2021, he appeared in Melissa McCarthy’s superhero movie “Thunder Force,” and will appear in the upcoming Apple TV adaptation of “The Mosquito Coast” in June.
Julie White played Sam’s mom, Judy.
Judy doesn’t have a huge part to play, but she seemed like a good mom to Sam. White also appeared in “Revenge of the Fallen” and “Dark of the Moon.”
The same year that “Transformers” was released, White won the Tony for Best Actress in a Play for her performance in “The Little Dog Laughed.”
At the time, White was recognizable from her roles in “Six Feet Under,” “Law & Order: SVU,” and, most famously, in “Grace Under Fire” in the late ’90s.
White was nominated for her third Tony Award in 2019.
White, who turns 60 in June, was nominated for the Tony for Best Featured Actress in a Play in 2016 for “Airline Highway,” and again in 2019 for “Gary: A Sequel to Titus Andronicus,” a role she stepped into shortly before previews began due to an accident that left original star Andrea Martin with four broken ribs.
White also has appeared in films such as “Inside Out,” “Lincoln,” and “A Very Murray Christmas,” as well as TV shows like “Go On,” “Nurse Jackie,” “Man Seeking Woman,” and “Mrs. America.”
Amaury Nolasco played Special Ops agent Jordan Figueroa who was part of Lennox’s team.
Agent Figueroa only appeared in the first “Transformers” film as one of the agents on William Lennox’s (Duhamel) team. He was supposed to appear in the sequel, but reportedly turned Bay down due to scheduling conflicts.
Nolasco had appeared alongside Gibson in “2 Fast 2 Furious” in 2003, but was most famous for his starring role in “Prison Break” as Fernando Sucre. He also starred alongside Bernie Mac in the 2004 sports comedy “Mr. 3000.”
Nolasco is currently starring on Starz series “Hightown” as an imprisoned drug kingpin.
Nolasco, 50, starred in many short-lived shows after “Transformers,” such as “Chase” (one season), “Work It” (two episodes), “Telenovela” (one season), and “Deception” (one season).
His most recent show, “Hightown,” debuted on Starz in May 2020. It was renewed for a second season in June. He also has a role in the upcoming film “Till Death” starring Jason Sudeikis and Evangeline Lilly.
Nolasco also dated “Once Upon a Time” star Jennifer Morrison for over three years, starting in 2009. They were broken up by 2014.
Glenn Morshower played Colonel Sharp, one of the other government operatives.
While Morshower’s character didn’t have much to do in the first film, he reappeared in “Revenge of the Fallen,” “Dark of the Moon,” and “The Last Knight” — and he got promoted to general.
Morshower was familiar to audiences at the time for his role in “The West Wing,” “24,” and “Friday Night Lights.” He also appeared in “Pearl Harbor” (another Bay-directed film) and “Black Hawk Down.”
Morshower still regularly appears on TV as government agents and police officers.
Morshower, 62, appeared as a colonel in “X-Men: First Class,” a detective in “Army Wives,” an agent in “Hawaii Five-O,” a general in “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and a general in “Madam Secretary,” and a general in “Supergirl” — he has a commanding presence.
He’s also had recurring roles in “The Resident,” “Bloodline,” “Dallas,” and “Revolution.” He has a total of 230 credits on IMDb.