The Daily Telegraph (Aus) – June 13th 2009

Isabel Lucas character Sam has cruel intentions in Transformers

POUTING and posing in front of a wall of camera lenses at the world premiere of Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Isabel Lucas looks every bit the movie star.

The 24-year-old was tanned and statuesque in a white Dior mini and Paspaley Pearl earrings as she mixed with Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf and Josh Duhamel at the red carpet event in Tokyo, Japan on Monday.

But start talking to the former Home and Away beach babe and you discover a softly spoken actress would rather be hiking in the Malibu canyons near her Los Angeles home than getting glammed up for a movie premiere.

It is Lucas’ first one and admits it’s overwhelming.

“It’s been a whirlwind,” she says.

“I’ve worked on five productions since Home and Away and this is the first one to be released, so I haven’t ever experienced doing a press junket or a premiere, so this is like really being thrown right into the midst of it, into the deep end.”

A bit nervewracking?

“Ummm, yeah. Yes it is. It is,” she says quietly, looking out the 44th floor window of Tokyo’s Park Hyatt Hotel.

She may not be comfortable with the movie star lifestyle, but Lucas has attracted the attention of one of the biggest names in showbusiness: Steven Spielberg.

Spielberg, who is an executive producer on the new Transformers movie, suggested her to director Michael Bay for the role of Alice after working with her on the HBO mini-series The Pacific, which he also produced.

One successful audition later and Lucas had landed the biggest movie role of her career.

There was no night of partying to celebrate, just dinner with then-boyfriend, Entourage star Adrian Grenier.

“We had a special dinner with some friends, a glass of wine… I’m pretty low-key, so it was kind of like a quiet celebration,” she explains with a smile.

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen reunites LaBeouf and Fox as Sam Witwicky and girlfriend Mikaela Banes, who are caught in the war between autobots and decepticons.

Alice is a girl Sam meets at college, and there’s nothing low-key about her.

It’s a very different part to the one that brought Lucas to fame in Australia, playing Tasha Hunter on Home and Away for several years.

“I was really intrigued by the character because there is more than meets the eye – literally,” she says.

“She’s a layered character, and that’s interesting for any actor to play really something different from yourself and to understand and relate to her even though she might have darker intentions.

“She’s fun to play.”

Shooting a movie full of special effects and CGI was a new experience for Lucas as well.

She describes one particular scene with LaBeouf which required an attention to detail that she’d never experienced before.

“The shot was so specific for a certain CGI effect that they were trying to achieve and the camera was about 30cm away and he (Bay) was like yelling at me so specifically to tilt my head down! Tilt it to the right! Tilt it down again! Now lift it slightly!

“But he really is an amazing visual genius, and the finished product you understand why he was being so specific with details.”

A film full of giant robots, explosions, fight scenes and scantily-clad babes doesn’t seem like the most natural choice of projects for a vegetarian anti-whaling activist who listens to Billie Holiday, Marvin Gaye and Al Green.

She describes Transformers as “a big fun action film”, but concedes her preference is for smaller indie productions.

“To be honest, when I told my parents that I was cast (in Transformers) they kind of gasped and laughed,” Lucas says.

“They know that this genre of film is not really what I’m drawn to, I’m drawn to scripts that are unique and have meaning.

“But that’s what is so wonderful about being an actor, is the diversity of the kind of films you can be a part of.

“I’m just honoured for the opportunity, and if it opens other doors career-wise I’ll be very fortunate.”

A year and a half ago Lucas packed up and moved from Melbourne to Los Angeles, and has been adjusting to life in the celebrity-obsessed, paparazzi-filled city.

Last year she found herself splashed all over the gossip pages, first for dating Grenier, and then when she was in a car accident with LaBeouf that left him with a crushed hand.

She says LaBeouf is one of the really close friends – “a platonic friend” – she has made in her adopted city, and she is finding ways to keep herself grounded.

“I’ve never really been drawn to LA, but I’ve found some really beautiful little nooks and cool vegan cafes and I’m getting my groove on there,” she says.

“And I go hiking in the Malibu canyons, so I spend a lot of time in nature as well.”

Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is released on June 24.