There’s something fantastically quirky about this quintessential Hollywood hottie. She’s starred in several action films and an equal number of comedies, both television and film. The dare-to-bare magazine shoots she’s done (listed in every “hot” list or “most beautiful” roster) versus the zany interviews she’s given on talk shows where her tongue-in-cheek quips seem at odds
with her chic glamour; the old-school femme fatale vibe she exudes versus the distinctly non-diva behaviour on set. It’s all so incongruous and unexpected.
From the outset when she first appeared on sitcoms, there was no denying how incredible she looked – her comedic counterparts commented on her bombshell physicality. Beautiful women generally aren’t expected to be that funny – “You need a fly in the ointment of comedy,” said Fran Drescher, star of the popular 1990s sitcom The Nanny, who has stunning looks, “But then, God gave me this voice so I was meant to lead in a situation comedy!”
Megan Fox, however, has no such aberrations. The breathy cadences, those laser-focused blue eyes, curves in all the right places, a body covered in tattoos, that slick black hair and her revealing gowns on the red carpet … yes, there have been comparisons with Angelina Jolie, “but I felt more of a kinship with Marilyn Monroe”, she says.
Born in 1986 (she’s just turned 31), Fox appeared in several minor roles before becoming a series regular in the sitcom Hope & Faith. In 2004, she had a pivotal role in Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (the titular role played by the rising star-turned-cautionary tale Lindsay Lohan), before her breakout role in the blockbuster Transformers (2007). She played the love interest of Shia LaBeouf’s character in the original and its sequel, followed by a very public ousting (allegedly) from the third in the multibillion-dollar-earning franchise. Rumours are that director Michael Bay was unhappy about a few uncharitable things Fox had said in an interview about the way the movie was made. Rosie Huntington-Whiteley replaced her in the third instalment.
Fox didn’t fret. In the wake of Juno, Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody chose her to star in the title role of the dark comedy Jennifer’s Body. Fox worked steadily in several films, until Bay hired her once again for the film version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the sensuous screen siren’s exoticism being ideally suited to the testosterone-charged capers; Fox earned a multimillion-dollar paycheck to return to the production house. Between projects, she married actor Brian Austin Green of Beverly Hills, 90210 fame, and went on a self-imposed hiatus during which she gave birth to three boys (her youngest is a year old).
And now she’s back. Perhaps a little reluctantly, yet the spotlight beckons, luring her away from “her boys”. But before she steps onto a Hollywood set, she’s in the studio for our cover shoot.
When did you know you wanted to be an actress?
When I was a really small, small girl. I was maybe three years old, when I first told my mum that I was going to be an actor! We were living in the South [Tennessee], where something like that wasn’t really possible. When I got older, we ended up moving to Florida and I started doing catalogue modelling in Miami. One of my first jobs was as an extra in Michael Bay’s movie Bad Boys II. At age 15, I went to Los Angeles for a pilot season and I ended up getting the job the first time I went out. I kept booking so many jobs that my mom felt confident that this was something that I’m supposed to do – she was very supportive and we moved out to LA. I started working pretty much straight away.
How did you land so many sitcoms so early on in your career?
I was always a performer as a child. Even when I was a baby I was always interacting with other people, even strangers at restaurants, I was always trying to entertain them – making silly faces, putting on weird shows, anything to make people laugh. And as I got older, one of the first impressions I ever worked on was Ace Ventura – which is such a strange thing a little eight-year-old girl would want to do, to be imitating Jim Carrey’s characters. That’s always how I identified myself, as a funny kid, long before I ever got any attention for being attractive. That’s sort of something that came after puberty and it never really felt right to me. I never wore that as some sort of badge or label, as it didn’t feel real. I always grew up knowing I was a smart kid, a funny kid. That’s just part of who I am, more so than the rest of the labels assigned to me.
Is working on comedies as fun as it looks?
Most recently I did a show called New Girl [with Zooey Deschanel], a half-hour comedy where I probably did about 20 episodes and I loved every minute of it. I love comedy. My two favourite genres are comedy and action movies. Most actors do an action movie just for a paycheck, and what they really want is a more serious role. I don’t have that desire. I genuinely love doing action movies and comedies. I don’t really consider myself a dramatic actress, I don’t have aspirations in that area.
Do you find the action physically demanding?
I grew up doing ballet. I was a pretty serious ballerina as a kid, up until I was in my teens, and I actually think that was amazing preparation for doing fight sequences and stunt choreography, because it’s a lot of choreographed movement. And I have a brain for it now, so I can memorise really long fight or weapons sequences because of the dance training. Something that people don’t really associate with ballerinas is how physically tough they are, because your body gets brutalised and you’re always broken and sore and bleeding. That was great preparation because my pain threshold is really high now. I can do stunts and I can get hurt and I can continue shooting, so that was a really good weapon for my arsenal. I love doing stunts and stunt choreography. That’s maybe my favourite part of making movies.
There’s a famous quote about working in Hollywood: “Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in high heels.”
In my experience actresses are significantly stronger and tougher than actors. Actors are usually big babies, especially about dealing with pain or having to do stunts. I hear them complain all the time. If we do sequences, like if we’re running, they’ll complain and want to take their shoes off. And I’m in stilettos and how do you have the nerve to complain about that in front of me? Look at what I’m doing! There was one movie where I was running and doing stunts in heels, and I actually tore my hamstring. And I kept shooting and I never even saw a doctor. I have a giant knot in my hamstring now as I never had it properly treated. These are just some of the things actresses do and we don’t ask for a cookie or gold star. Actors are much less likely to go through that – boys don’t like pain!
If you were the most powerful person in Hollywood, what’s the first thing you’d change?
The misogyny, of course. Women are undervalued. Equal pay for equal work. There’s also something more that goes on when you’re working on these big movies because the studio has so much money on the line – when it’s a $100-million-plus budget, the value for human life isn’t anything. It’s all about getting that shot on time so that we make our money back. People get hurt in the process.
Behind the glitz and glamour, there’s a dark underbelly to Hollywood that people seem to glaze over.
There are some very dark negative things that go on on set, between actors or between actors and directors – specifically to actresses – that we have to go through. There’s no morality or integrity within the studio system. It’s completely about greed. If there was a way to change that, I of course would. It creates a lot of emotional trauma. People have to go through this crap over and over again because your humanity isn’t even recognised. You’re an object, a means to an end. Oh my God, I’ve been injured a million times on set – but I never closed down a set. I’ve been hurt a million times but it was never bad enough to be hospitalised. There was one time, what happened to poor Shia, we were filming the second one [Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen], and I feel like one of the props went through his hand … something really terrible happened. I can’t remember exactly what it was, he went to the hospital to get stitched up, he was gone for an hour. And he came back to continue filming. You can’t shut down a movie set – it’s $2 million a day halted – even though insurance covers it. We usually fight through the injuries. As long as your face looks OK, they don’t care and they want you to keep shooting anyway.
Writer-producer Diablo Cody and you have a wonderful friendship. Are women more supportive of each other?
I think we have to be supportive of each other. It’s such a patriarchal and misogynistic workplace, it’s run by men for the most part and you’re finally starting to see more interesting shows and more interesting movies now – and that’s because women are getting behind the camera and writing and producing. I think it’s really hard for men, because of our conditioning, to write good roles for women or to even understand how to utilise a woman to her fullest potential, because we’re all taught – or have been thus far – that men are knights in shining armour that protect the little wilted lily princess trapped in the tower. When I get a script, almost always when a man writes a script or produces a movie, the female roles will ultimately be in service of the male character.
Whether its Jonah Hex or Boss Girl, you never play a victim.
No, I think it’s just not an extension of who I am so those parts don’t appeal to me. I also have a hard time portraying that helplessness and I won’t be believable in that role. And I wouldn’t enjoy it and I don’t think anyone would enjoy watching it! Playing someone who has to be rescued by a man doesn’t appeal to me, it’s not a reflection of who I am.
What attracts you to sign on the dotted line for a movie?
I weigh it based on how much fun I think it’s going to be, because I don’t like to go to work and be miserable. And I like to go to work and laugh and have a good time, or at least be doing something really exciting. Where is it shooting? Is it an exciting location? Who’s in it? Is it going to be people that I’m going to like or get along with? Things like that. I don’t like to go to work and be serious and everyone’s really wound up tight and worrying about the project and how it’s going to turn out. I don’t want that.
You’ve worked with a range of amazing actors – any favourites?
I think my most kindred spirit would be Shia LaBeouf. We’re like twin souls. I love him and I think we had probably the best time working together. He’s going through a phase right now. But that’s OK. Lots of people do. It’s a season of his life. He’s one of my favourite people and definitely one of my favourite men that I’ve worked with.
You’ve had a contentious relationship with directors. Is there anyone you did like working with?
I worked with this director Mitch [Glazer] for this really small independent movie [Passion Play, 2011] that I did with Mickey Rourke. I really liked working with him, there was something really sweet and genuine about Mitch. He was very poetic and artistic. I liked him as a person and so I felt really open on that set. Sometimes directors are very tough, difficult to speak to or they don’t like actors – there are all these complicated issues between actors and directors – and I just felt like he was really genuine and open to suggestions. I enjoyed working with him a lot.
What are your fashion choices?
If I’m going to do red carpet, that’s when I like to dress the unique vampy side of myself. I’m attracted to more sexy pieces. I’ve had stylists that shift me away from that. For good reasons. They want me to be not too sexy. But I have a problem with that because I like it! I like being a fierce little vampire slayer when I go out on the red carpet. Anything that makes me feel superhuman. Sometimes they don’t let me wear what I want to wear, unfortunately.
Who has the final say?
It’s a group decision, but ultimately I can override everyone. But if everyone else in the group is, like, “I think this is more appropriate for this event, I’ll usually cave. But every once in a while, I ultimately have the final say if I exercise the right!
Purveyors of fashion say you bring back vintage Hollywood glamour when you do events. Do you see why?
Yeah, I definitely think there’s something a little Ava Gardner in some of my choices and some of my looks. You know, I had a tattoo of Marilyn Monroe on my arm. I’ve had it lasered off – removing it hurt like hell. So obviously I’m attracted to that vintage glamour. And if I had to choose one designer because of that, it would be Dolce & Gabbana because they really embody that Italian movie-star glamour.
Before we wrap this up, I’ve got to ask, how do you feel about the Trump administration?
I think the way anyone would anticipate I would! I’m a liberal, I’m a Democrat. I’ve never voted for anything except Democrat – and I’ve only voted once, which was for Obama. I’m not in support of the current administration. I think they’re making a lot of choices which are not uniting us as a people, and that’s unfortunate. And I’m worried, like most Americans. What’s going on now politically is not, I feel, a reflection of how most Americans think and feel.
Photography Lionel Deluy AT Love Artists Agency
Styling Monica Rose
Make-up Angela Levin at Tracey Matingly
Hair Renato Campora using Oribe
Manicure Morgan McGuire using Chanel
Assistant Stylist Katie Peare