Interview with Isabel Lucas
Appearing in a Hollywood action blockbuster is a humbling experience at the best of times.
When Michael Bay – director of such Big ‘n’ Loud films as Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and the first Transformers film – is at the helm, it feels like the actors’ main job is just to hold on and try not to get blown off the screen by the swirling mass of machines and explosions.
So it is to Isabel Lucas’ credit that she makes the impression she does in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.
She plays a student studying, alongside star Shia LaBeouf, at university during the fifteen or so minutes when giant robots aren’t busy trying to kill him (or save him from the other robots trying to kill him).
And while it is a supporting role, it’s definitely one audiences won’t forget in a hurry.
The experience of doing a global publicity tour isn’t one that Isabel won’t forget in a hurry either…
“I got back from Tokyo about three days ago, and I’m off to Sydney tomorrow, and from there it’s off to LA for the premieres there.”
“I’ve worked on five different productions since the show and this is the first thing that’s come out even though I’ve finished two things before this one. So it feel like I’m right in the midst of it all, it’s very new to me and I’m trying to roll with it the best I can.”
Since leaving Home & Away she has been working on the Tom Hanks / Steven Spielberg World War II epic The Pacific – which doesn’t feature giant robots, by the way.
Her performance there caught Spielberg’s eye, and as one of the producers of Transformers, he suggested her to Michael Bay for the role.
“Yeah, it’s really from that that’s he’s seen my work and he’s asked me to come and read, so I read with Michael Bay, and he liked what I did and I got the part.”
As you might expect in a movie based around a war between rival factions of giant robots that can also turn into cars and trucks and planes, there is a fair amount of computer generated special effects going on in Transformers 2.
Isabel didn’t have quite as many scenes talking to the giant robots as some of the cast, and by the sounds of things she might have preferred it that way.
“I can’t speak for the rest of the cast, but they had a lot of scenes where they’re communicating with the robots, and they are basically talking to a tennis ball on a stick while a voice is coming from somewhere behind that.”
“It’s odd, because as an actor you’re listening and responding to who’s in front of you, and you don’t get that with this kind of filming.”
“While I didn’t have that much work with special effects in my scenes, I spent a lot of time hanging around on set, because even though I only had a small number of scenes, Michael Bay wanted me to be available if I was needed.”
“So I spent a lot of time with Shia [LaBeouf], he has become a really close platonic friend, and I saw how he coped with the special effects. I guess if I do work on a production again with a lot of special effects, I’ll be ready for it.”
Most of Isabel’s scenes are with LaBeouf (AKA one of the fastest rising young stars in Hollywood today) and she has nothing but nice things to say about him.
“I loved working with Shia. He has been doing stand-up since he was twelve, and he’s a great one for coming up with new dialogue and new lines to make a scene that much sharper and funnier. It was really enjoyable.”
“I think that was one of the most challenging things, the re-creating of scenes. Michael’s very flexible and he likes to completely improvise, so the scenes would evolve as we went along.”
Isabel isn’t a newcomer to the science fiction / fantasy genre, having filmed the Australian vampire film Daybreaker (from the guys that made the zombie film Undead) last year. She’s also been filming a romantic comedy in Melbourne, just in case you got the impression that she was making a beeline for the SF convention circuit.
But there’s little doubt that in Hollywood at the moment it doesn’t get a whole lot bigger than working with Michael Bay.
With so many explosions to set off and giant robots to wrangle, it would be easy to get the impression that dealing with actors might be a little way down Michael Bay’s list of things to do. But according to Isabel, once he is off the set he is up for a friendly chat.
“We’ve all come to know each other closely over the filming, and he’s got a completely different persona to what he has on set – he doesn’t have as much stress and pressure, and he doesn’t have an army of people to organise.”
“He hangs out, he’s such a ‘hang with the cast’ kinda guy, every single dinner he can possibly organise and have us come and meet up, he will organise.”
Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is in cinemas June 26th 2009