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Transformers - Josh Duhamel interview

Josh Duhamel in Transformers

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JOSH Duhamel, star of hit TV series Vegas, talks about appearing in Transformers and how he hopes to develop a successful film career…

Q. How demanding was the physical training on this?
Josh Duhamel: At times pretty tough. But I love doing that kind of stuff. Michael told me going in that I would be going through a lot. He said: “I put my guys through a lot physically in my movies, so be ready.” So I tried to be as physically strong as I could be coming in. But I love it. It was like playing like I did when I was a kid.

Q. Were you a Transformers fan as a kid?
Josh Duhamel: Yeah, I owned them as a kid. I had the Transformers underoos – the matching underwear with the T-shirt. I’m actually wearing them now [laughs]. No! So I was definitely a fan as a kid and to be able to do this movie and to do it with Bay, there was no doubt I wanted to do it.

Q. How did you react when you heard you got the part?
Josh Duhamel: I jumped on the table and pretended I was surfing. My buddy said: “Whenever something good happens, table surf!” So I did. At first, it’s more like you want it so badly and it’s like “yeah”. But then the realisation hits that you have to actually do it. Then there’s the anxiety of knowing you’re going to be doing it. I never realised how big it was going to be until I saw it the other night. It’s also funnier than I expected because a lot of my stuff was running from things and explosions. I thought there was a good balance between the insane action stuff and the lighter stuff. It could have been a movie that took itself too seriously and I’m glad we didn’t do that.

Q. How was Michael Bay on the set?
Josh Duhamel: He’s a sweetheart! He was my little cup cake on the set [laughs]. He’d yell at me and I’d say: “Oh stop it, Michael.” But seriously, he gets this reputation for being a tyrant on set and this screamer. He talks loudly into a megaphone but he doesn’t really scream. When you have this much pressure on a movie this size there’s a lot of pressure. A lot of people couldn’t do it. I couldn’t and keep a singular kind of vision but he did and you can’t worry whether you’re hurting people’s feelings.

It’s actually entertaining to watch him conduct himself throughout the day because you can tell he’s totally focused on what he’s doing. He doesn’t care what he says to people and if he hurts someone’s feelings, it’s probably someone he’s worked with for a long time and they’ll yell back. But the whole time he’s thinking about his shot. I literally felt like an old man at times, just sitting and watching people go by. It was like a circus. I guess part of his reputation is warranted and part of it is blown a little bit out of proportion.

Q. What was the most fun you had on this film?
Josh Duhamel: I guess my favourite part was when I got to do the motorcycle stunt. I was looking forward to that for the whole script and kept checking that they were still planning on shooting. For whatever reason I always thought he was going to take it away from me because it was my thing. But that was fun because they had this matt black Porsche with this crane on the back and I was attached to this square box of a go-kart type thing and a wire rope that pulled me along on this tray at about 25mph. I had to scream. That was about as crazy as it got for me.

Q. How easy was it going from an ensemble piece like Vegas, which you were filming during the week, to a big action picture like Transformers, which you were doing at weekends?
Josh Duhamel: It was quite a bit different. I’m in a suit, all clean and neat on the show, and then there was this scene involving a truck where Michael really got on our asses. I hadn’t worked for a week and a half, so I was high fiving the guys and the crew. But then we were getting ready to do this intense action scene but ended up looking like The Three Stooges and Michael was like: “God damn it, get your act together!” I just tried to turn one off and the other one on whenever.

Q. How is your career going now? Do you find it easier to get roles?
Josh Duhamel: It’s competitive, very competitive. I’ve been working on Vegas now for five years, so I haven’t really been out there competing for as many things as I’d want to because I’m tied up for nine or 10 months of the year. So my thing about three months before we finish Vegas every year, I just want to get one thing and I really busy my butt to do so. This year I got Transformers. When I’m done with the TV show I’d really like to try and do more movies so I guess that’s when I’ll really see how competitive it is.

Q. Are movies riskier?
Josh Duhamel: They are. Not that I don’t love TV because it’s been great to me. But with something like Transformers there’s a beginning, a middle and an end and it’s fun to flesh out a whole character through a whole movie.

Q. Why did you become an actor?
Josh Duhamel: I didn’t discover it until I was 25 years old. I always thought I could do it and wanted to do it but growing up in North Dakota, there’s no exposure to it. So, I guess after I started taking classes… when I first started I sort of stuck my toes in but I was so nervous I didn’t know if I could go all the way. I was so scared about it for some reason. The more confident I got with it, the more I just fell in love with it. I love going to work every day and trying to make the most of the stuff I’ve been given.

Q. What did you do before acting?
Josh Duhamel: Everything from construction to waiting tables. I think it’s almost better to start at a later age because you have more stuff to drawm from – more life experience. When you start too young, you grow up on a set. People say to me: “My son wants to do this, how should he go about it?” And I always urge them to send him to school first and then let him decide. Parents are often so anxious to get them famous but I’m like: “If you want another Lindsay Lohan, then go ahead!”