How did this role come to you?
I had a great working relationship with [producer] Michael Bay on Pain & Gain, and then one day he just kind of approached me and asked me if I would be interested in doing this and I answered, ""Yes, absolutely!" It was pretty much that easy.
How would you compare the experiences of working with Michael Bay on both movies?
Believe it or not it was pretty much the same, with the exception that the schedule on this movie has been three times longer. I love working with him. And being an aspiring filmmaker myself, getting to shadow Michael and see what he does and how he does it is just a great experience.
What appealed to you about being in Transformers: Age of Extinction?
Even before reading the script I was excited about it because Michael had told me the story and talked to me about the characters, and it just seemed like the right movie for me. We had already developed a shorthand and he really allowed me to develop my character. And then, as it's a Michael Bay movie,? it ends up looking even better than you had imagined. He was the main attraction for me.
You play the lead role of inventor Cade Yeager. Who is he?
He is a single dad who is hurt and devastated after losing his wife, and he is doing the best he can to raise his daughter. But Cade's fascination with technology gets him into serious trouble when he discovers something. So, he is an ordinary guy thrust into an extraordinary situation where he has to then become kind of larger than life to be able to protect his daughter.
What is your recollection of the three previous Transformers movies?
I started watching them with my children, and I enjoyed them; but I think this one is a little edgier than the previous ones.
The difference is the audience can sense that those other films are a bit of an imitation of what Michael has done with Transformers. He just knows how to take these movies to a complete other level. And I thought that it would be a very interesting challenge for me as an actor; so it was also a bit of a risk for me, but if I'm going to take a risk I definitely prefer to take it with someone like Michael.
How physically demanding was your role?
It's a pretty physically demanding movie, but no worse than others I've been in.
The movie has action and a lot more?
Yes, there are all the huge effects and the action; but it also has a lot of humour and a lot of heart. And I believe that finding that balance between those elements will take it to another level.
You have never been in a movie with that many effects before?
Not really ... I remember that when I shot The Perfect Storm it became the first movie to treat water like it did, but this one is just all over the place.
After the experience of Ted and now with Transformers: Age of Extinction, how comfortable are you interacting with characters that are not really there in front of you?
I feel confident because I know we are in good hands and that everything is going to be where it's supposed to be. You can find yourself feeling pretty silly having a heated conversation with a giant robot that isn't really there.
Is it true that you also like to do most of your stunts?
Yes, which means that you have to be physically prepared. It's months of working 12 hours a day, five days a week. I used to be the one who wanted to do all my stunts, but now I'm a father and I don't mind if they send the guy that looks just like me to crash the car.
Speaking of being a father, what can you say about Nicola Peltz, who plays your daughter in the film?
Nicola is fantastic. She is the older version of my own kids and just a pro. She was raised the right way, and it's nice to see that someone that age is just about the work. I already knew Nicola and told Michael that he didn't have anything to worry about with her. I remember this scene in which she was fighting these real Navy Seals take after take, and Michael and I looked at each other and he gave me that nod that meant he knew she had the goods.
Jack Reynor, who plays her boyfriend in the movie, has also taken his first leap into a big production with Transformers: Age of Extinction.
Yes, and he also comes from a good background. It will be interesting to see how this movie affects both of them after it is released, because I'm sure it will in a great way. They are both in it for the right reasons, which is good.
Did you all get to improvise on set?
Oh yes, a lot. But it was always within the context of the story and the situation, because if you are not prepared and just go off rambling it can be a big problem.
Why do you think people connect so well with these Transformers movies all over the world?
Because they are entertaining and just great fun to watch. And I like the emotional story in this one of a dad willing to do anything for his daughter. I think that can work well if you get it right.
You also have some great moments with Stanley Tucci.
Stanley is great. We worked together on The Lovely Bones but didn't have a lot of time to play, as it was a serious subject, but with this we had a lot of fun. He plays this larger-than-life powerful guy who now is kind of responsible for a lot of what is happening. So, we get to dig into each other. Getting to go head-to-head with someone like Stanley Tucci is a lot of fun. And he is very generous as an actor.
How would you say that you relate to your character?
Being a dad I can certainly relate to a father doing everything he can to protect his daughter, because I'm also very protective with my own daughter to the furthest possible extent. Luckily I have a couple more years before I have to worry about boyfriends.
What are the toys of your childhood that you would have liked to have seen come alive at the time?
Probably the Monopoly money.
Transformers: Age of Extinction opens on June 26.