Instead of playing it safe and taking a role in a predictable, prefab genre film, the stunning Megan Fox chose to gamble on playing a rough and tough hooker from the Old West, in love with a mystical gunslinger, in the supernatural thriller 'Jonah Hex.'
After striking Hollywood gold with back-to-back roles in the first two Transformers box office behemoths, Megan Fox could have used her striking good looks and fine acting abilities and have gone the lucrative Tinsel Town route of becoming the new queen of romantic comedies or a bonafide sex kitten in a string of exploitative teen laugh-fests. Instead, she decided to take parts in films that tested her artistic talents – regardless of their popularity with market research groups -- that's why she took a role in the edgy and irreverent Jonah Hex.
“I just want to be a good actress, I'm not all that interested in being a star – I know what comes with all that,” admits the dark-haired Fox, dressed in a sexy sundress with a jacket slung over her shoulders. “The only way I can get better is by doing different kinds of movies. I don't want to keep playing roles that stereotype me or relegate me into a specific category. I always want to do something that's completely different from anything that I've done before, that way no one can accuse me of doing the same thing twice. I want to be proud of my work.” Although the movie she made during her hiatus between the first two Transformers blockbusters -- the bloody and sexy Jennifer's Body – did only lukewarm business at the box office, most critics praised Fox's daring performance.
Recently, Fox was released from any further Transformers acting commitments. According to official word from the production company, filmmaker Michael Bay allegedly wanted to take leading man Shia LaBeouf's character in a different direction with his robot friends, and a girlfriend wouldn't allow him to do that. However, most Hollywood insiders see her release from the franchise as Michael Bay's way of punishing Fox for jokingly calling the reportedly tyrannical director everything from a “dictator” to “Hitler” on the set to members of the press. Apologizing for not being able to talk about the Transformers situation, Fox is more interested in talking about her latest film, Jonah Hex. In the Jimmy Hayward-directed thriller, she portrays Lilah, a prostitute in an Old West brothel.
Megan Fox and Josh Brolin in 'Jonah Hex.'
Based on the comic books and graphic novels released by DC Comics, in Jonah Hex, Lilah has a soft spot in her hooker heart for the facially-disfigured Hex (Josh Brolin) – a bounty hunter and drifter who has the very scary ability to raise people from the dead. While Jonah Hex has only been a modestly successful comic book series, Fox wanted the role of Lilah in the big screen adaptation because of the cast she would be working with.
“I just felt that it was an amazing opportunity for me to be involved in a project with Josh and John Malkovich and Micharl Fassbender, all these incredible actors who were coming in to make this movie,” she recalls. “I just wanted to be a part of it any way that I could.”
Holed up at the Four Seasons Hotel – one of Beverly Hill's most popular and lavish superstar haunts – to promote the release of Jonah Hex, the press gathered around Fox while she discussed her feelings towards fame, what keeps her grounded and sane, how physically demanding her scenes in Jonah Hex turned out to be, Frodo's eating habits and she explains her excitement over her next film in which she plays a performer in a freak show. “I like to take chances,” she says with a grin. “That's the only way I'll grow as an actress.”
Megan Fox in 'Jonah Hex.'
I know you like to do as much research as you can on your characters, but did you do any research on prostitutes of the Old West? “No, not really. The kind of prostitution that existed back then is very different than the kind that exists now. That was a very common way for a woman to make a living, and we didn’t really show that. If there had been more graphic scenes, I probably would have, but the only sex scene that is in there is between Jonah and Lilah and they’re lovers, so that wasn’t really the same sort of situation. Good question.”
How would you best describe Lilah? “I’m Jonah’s love interest -- I guess you could call it – but it’s not very conventional. She’s a prostitute that he’s been coming and visiting for years. They sort of have a special relationship, and there is love in the air. But, he doesn’t want to get too close to her or allow her too get close because everyone he loves dies. John's (Malkovich) character killed Jonah's wife and family, so he's worried that anybody too close to him will die. She doesn’t really understand that concept. So it’s a push and pull sort of situation.”
When you are making a movie that already has a fan base like Jonah Hex, do you ever worry about how you are going to make the character your own without disappointing the fans? “I feel like it's impossible to please – and I love them, though – the hardcore comic book fans, because they'll never be happy no matter what you do. I'm a Lord Of The Rings fan, and I'll go on the forums and they complain that Frodo is eating the lembas bread outside of Mordor instead of the mines of Moria and they get really mad about it. (Director) Peter Jackson and company won thirty-something Oscars for that movie. So you can't focus completely on pleasing them because you'll never win, and then you're excluding a whole other world of people who weren't even aware of the comic in the first place. So I think that you have to take some sort of liberties to make it into a live action film or it wouldn't work.”
Since you basically spent most of your time on the first two Transformers movies running away from CGI-generated robots, you've been quoted as saying that the role of Lilah is the most serious role that anyone has given you. How so? “I think I just meant having to try and keep my head above water in my scenes with Josh Brolin is a really, really difficult thing to do.”
Did you and Josh work up any kind of back story about why Lilah is so loyal to Jonah or how she ended up being a working girl? “Well, Josh and I had a conversation about what their past relationship could've been and why she would be so dedicated and so in love with someone who sort of treated her the way that he did and was not able to love. We sort of came up with a back story between the two of us of why and what things had gone on in the past, why she was so dedicated to him and so loyal and hurt for him so badly.”
Even though you only shoot for a couple of days, I heard that your action scenes were very physically challenging. “It was only five days that I filmed, and I’ve never been more exhausted filming anything else. I mean, I shot 108 degree days on Transformers, and the five days I spent on this were by far a lot more difficult. It's just hard, I’m way out of my league. Everything was so far over my head, I was just trying to stay alive.”
Megan Fox and Josh Brolin in 'Jonah Hex.'
I'm sure it was much more exciting fighting with real-life people then it was trying to react with a tennis ball on a stick, which was supposed to be a robot. I'm sure your glad to get away from those robots. “I like working on action films – period. I like working on movies that are comic book-based, that have this sort of theme because there are things that I watched or loved when I was a kid. So it wasn't really about getting away from the robots, if that's what you were saying. I enjoyed making both films.”
Although you look great in the corset, stockings and spiked-heel boots, that corset looks like it must have been extremely painful to wear. “Not at all, I loved the corset. When I showed up for camera tests, everyone was kind of horrified. They thought that I was in pain or that I was hurting or that something was wrong with me because my waist was so small. But I enjoyed it and I wish that they'd come back into style.”
Are you kidding? “No, it was a lot of fun to wear. The corset obviously changes the way you walk and your breathing patterns and things like that, so I enjoyed that. I wanted that cinch to tighten me as much as possible.”
Josh Brolin and Megan Fox in 'Jonah Hex'
Besides the heat, what did you find was most challenging? “It was really difficult for me to shoot the old style gunslinger guns, because I have tiny little baby hands and they're really large and really heavy. So just the physicality of actually having to pull that off was really difficult. This movie was more action heavy for me. It was more intricate, the action in this movie, than in previous movies that I've done.”
What film do you have coming up next? “I have a movie with Mickey Rourke, hopefully, coming out this fall, called Passion Play, which I was really excited to work on. It's an independent right now. I'm really proud of that, and I had an amazing experience making that movie. It's sort of a modern film noir and Mickey's character is a trumpet player who's sort of down on his luck. He was a heroin addict and he comes across my character, who is a part of a traveling freak show. She has bird wings that sprouted out of her back when she went through puberty. It's this sort of very bizarre, strange relationship that they have. It follows them and it's very tragic and so on and so forth.”
When Josh and Jimmy (Hayward) were coming up with ideas for actresses to play Lilah, Josh mentioned that he was impressed with you being a 22-year-old girl dealing really well with fame and attention. How have you been able to handle the paparazzi and tabloids without going nuts or insane? “I don't know? I think I've maintained the same relationships that I had before this happened to me and I've kept people close to me that I love and respect and that have looked out for me and taken care of me. I sort of distanced myself from the Hollywood crowd. I don't really go out and socialize that way. I'm sort of oddly, and you might not think it, but I'm very domestic and I think that keeps me sane. My personal relationships have kept me grounded.”
I think a lot of people will be surprised to know that you are domestic, because even Josh thought you were supposed to be rebellious -- as you have so often been portrayed in the press. Are you rebellious? Are you surprised when people like Josh and Jimmy praise you for being able to handle fame so well at twenty-two? “Well, I'm twenty-four now. (laughs) I mean, this kind of fame, people who are famous and make it to this level of fame for whatever reason, whether it's deserved or not, you have to be a strong person to survive it because it is very difficult to be under the microscope every moment of everyday and everything that leaves your mouth becomes this sensationalized news story no matter what your intentions were when you first said it. So it does become overwhelming. But am I that rebellious? I think of course there are many sides to me and to my personality and I think the only thing that's rebellious about me is that I don't sort of really have a lot of fear as far as this industry is concerned and I might do things that maybe other people would be afraid to do or afraid to say. But in my personal life, I'm actually very responsible with my personal relationships and things like that.”
Jonah Hex opens nationwide on June 18, 2010