In 2007, the film Transformers took the world by a storm and set a new standard for science fiction and action films alike. For Tyrese Gibson, the explosion of the film meant more than just unparalleled special effects: it helped bring his rising acting career to life.
Rachel Cicurel: Were you surprised by the success of the first Tranformers film?
With an upcoming comic book, a new reality show, and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen hitting the big screen, Tyrese is grateful for the ride and looking forward to the future.
Tyrese Gibson: You know, we all had high expectations but we really didn't know because at the end of the day, being that most of us are realists, you can't assume because it was a successful cartoon or a successful toy that it was going to be able to make that crossover and become a successful film. But we all were hoping for the best. We had some early signs that the buzz and the energy was right on it but it didn't mean that people were going to show up and it didn't mean that it was going to perform as well as it did.
RC: Were you a fan of the television series before you took part in the film?
TG: Yes. I’m a real Transformers fan. I’ve got a tattoo on my right forearm; I’m not a paid actor in a movie I don't actually love. I’ve done my share of movies but none of the other movies get a tattoo on my body. Love the cartoon, love the toys—still got 'em.
For my fans on Twitter, I've got pictures of me running through my office with my helmet on playing cops and robbers: the real thing.
RC: Since the last film, has Sergeant Epps changed at all?
TG: My character moved up in ranks. I'm Master Sergeant Epps now, and, you know, I'm operating under a lot more pressure. I've got a lot more phone calls and walkie-talkie calls to get out to make people aware of where we are, where to drop bombs, emergency evacuation situations. I've got so much more to communicate about and the stakes have been raised.
RC: Have there been any new additions to the cast since the first Transformers that you've especially enjoyed working with?
TG: Ramon Rodriquez is new to the cast, Matthew Marsden is new to the cast, and a few other folks that you'll see in the movie. We welcome them all with open arms to this new adventure. They bring a lot of good energy to the cast; they make the movie more universal. Ramon is Latino, and Matthew Morrison is British—he's from London—and so you've just got to feel like every nationality is almost covered when it comes to this film. And it just goes to show you that people from around the world are going to have someone to identify with.
RC: How is it to work with Michael Bay as your director?
TG: Michael Bay is a work horse. He runs his set like a military; he keeps everybody on edge. And here and there he might curse somebody out for making some major mistake on the set, and then he [hangs out] with us every single night after it's all done. So what you do is you learn not to take anything personally because it's just a part of his formula. He's so passionate, so involved in what he's doing. Just do whatever he needs done and move on.
I think of him as a real genius that's cutting-edge and forward thinking, so I'm really honored to be a part of this franchise. And if they ever call me again for three or four or five, I'll be right there.
RC: What makes Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen so unique?
TG: Technology-wise, they have definitely pushed the envelope and created a new standard. I mean, there's going to be some insecure directors running around town, saying, "Man, if we don't have this kind of stuff in our movie, then how the hell are we going to come close to performing or keeping up with that?" There's so much action and drama and one-of-a-kind things going on in this movie that no one has ever seen.
RC: As an actor, is it complicated to work with the special effects?
TG: When they explain it all, it's very easy to follow and you've just kind of got to listen and pay attention to what's going on and just try to show up and be at your best. If he says the robots are over here and the car's going to turn over, and this is going to explode and this is going to happen ...You've just got to listen to what's needed and try and go for gusto. I think at the end of the day, if you have never worked on a movie in your life where someone is giving you directions, then this would be the movie to pay close attention to because you could really get hurt. This is dangerous stuff.
RC: Has it been difficult to transition from the music industry to film?
TG: I love it. If you don't reach beyond what you've already mastered, you'll never grow. I mean, I've got a comic book coming out August 5. It's called Mayhem. The pre-sale for the comic book has been through the roof. With just one store, we've done over 10,000 comic books in two weeks—the energy that's behind this comic book alone, it's just so exciting. And that's what it's about.
My mom used to say that too much idle time is a devil's playground ... If you decide to just sit around and do nothing, then that's what you decide to do with your life. I don't believe in standing still. I barely sleep; I'm up two or three days at a time. I may get a few hours in here and there, and it's caused some health issues here and there, but you know, we've got things to do.
RC: Besides Revenge of the Fallen, what else is coming up for you?
TG: A TV show called First In that's going to be launched on BET later this year ... It's like the equivalent to COPS but for firefighters, because they're always the first ones in. And it's a reality show, but it's shot beautifully. We started our whole first season in Compton and we're going to move around to New Orleans and Baltimore and really remind people in the world who the real heroes are: the people that put their life on the line everyday to save us from fires and shootouts and all these different crimes.
RC: Do you have any final words of wisdom to offer us?
TG: If you've mastered one arena, then you've got to move on and evolve. They always say it's a jungle out there, but the problem is most people are swinging from the same vine ... So switch it up, grow, don't be afraid to take that leap of faith, and with God, you'll land on your feet.
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, May 26, 2013
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