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Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - John Turturro interview

John Turturro and Shia LaBeouf

Interview by Rob Carnevale

JOHN Turturro talks about reuniting with Michael Bay and climbing pyramids for blockbuster sequel Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, coping with CG effects and why he once owned a naked female doll in amongst his GI Joe and James Bond toys [we’re serious!]…

Q. What was being shot climbing a pyramid actually like?
John Turturro: It was very high.

Q. So, you were really climbing the pyramid in that scene?
John Turturro: Yes, I’m really a professional stuntman [laughs]. I went a little too high one day and they were all screaming in Arabic. I thought they were worried about me but they were actually worried that I was going too high and would injure the pyramid! It was interesting.

Q. The original Transformers marked the first time you’d really worked on a big film with a lot of effects. Was it easier second time around?
John Turturro: On the first one I was looking at Shia [LaBeouf] a lot because he seemed to be doing it so easily. But then I started thinking of it as being like I was playing with my kids and it actually gets easier. But at first it’s odd.

Q. What was it like working for Michael Bay a second time?
John Turturro: I based my character on Michael [laughs]. But the key to making any movie is that you have to try and key into the sensibility of the guy who is going to be there every day and who is going to be working on the film after you’re long gone. It took me a little while to understand that when I first started out but you really do have to look at that person and sort of connect with their sensibility. I have a lot of time for Michael. He lets me try things, he brings a lot of energy and he works really hard, and you know the shots are going to be interesting. So, you just have to be open to moments when you’re working with him. I had a good time on the first one and I had a better time on this one.

Q. What toys did you play with growing up?
John Turturro: Oh boy! [laughs] I was a mean Zorro fan. GI Joe also came out when I was younger. But I did have a female doll, which was based on Honey West, a show that Anne Francis was in. So, I had my James Bond doll and Oddjob doll and she was always naked… [laughs]. My mother would always say: “John, why are you putting her up in the tree with no clothes on?” And I’d say: “Don’t worry mum, GI Joe is going to save her!” She had that little mole below her lip [gestures]… I don’t know what happened to her.

Q. If you could transform into anything what would it be?
John Turturro: I’d like to transform into Ann-Margaret. That would make me happy.

Q. You’ve been in the industry longer than your younger co-stars so what are the biggest changes you’ve experienced?
John Turturro: I think there are certain kinds of films that are made less and less nowadays. The sort of medium sized adult type of films. I think they’ve really shrunk. I think bigger films are now made, or really small films, but the medium sized films are beginning to disappear more and more. I’m talking about the $15-$20 million range movies that are more adult and less comedic.

Q. How different would Transformers have been if it had been written by Barton Fink?
John Turturro: Well, I think a lot of it would have been in a room. But I’m sure Michael would have made a lot out of that room [laughs].

Read our review of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

Read our interview with Michael Bay