It wasn’t too long ago that Megan Fox found herself at the dizzying center of the celebrity maelstrom. Through no particular fault of her own, she was teetering on the brink of media overexposure — the kind that comes from the usual perception of someone (and more often an actress) suddenly becoming too big, and too fast. Fox’s well-publicized (and rather humorous) feud with her Transformers director Michael Bay lead to her being dismissed from the third installment (quick: try and remember the name of her replacement), while her would-be star vehicle — the hopelessly misunderstood Jennifer’s Body — bombed with critics and audiences.
Yet Fox’s career is taking an arguably more interesting turn now that the white light of scrutiny has subsided: she’s got roles in Judd Apatow’s Knocked Up sequel This is 40 and Sacha Baron Cohen’s The Dictator on the way, and this week stars as part of the ensemble cast of Jennifer Westfeldt’s Friends with Kids. In the well-received comedy-drama, Fox plays Mary Jane, the much-younger girlfriend of single-dad-with-a-twist Adam Scott, while getting to act alongside a cast that includes Westfeldt, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig and Maya Rudolph.
We got a chance to chat with Fox about the experience recently, as well as her thoughts on doing more of this kind of comedy in the future. Read on for that, but first, she reeled off her five favorite films. (And for being the first person to pick Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, well, we salute her.)
The Lord of the Rings trilogy (Peter Jackson; 2001, 2002, 2003; 92%, 96%, 94% Tomatometers)
Well number one — and we have to count it as one or else it’s take up my whole list — is The Lord of the Rings. That’s pretty self-explanatory. I read the books when I was a kid and Peter Jackson just created this incredible world and environment that you get caught up in. It’s amazing.
Finally — and this is a series as well — the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies. The original three are just… [sings] “Go ninja, go ninja, go!” I just really loved those movies.
I do love the first one. How old were you when you saw them?
I was must have been really young — maybe five or six when I first saw them. And I think they still hold up. [Laughs] My husband laughs ’cause he thinks they’re so terrible, but I love the animatronic puppets. I just love the old school, the practical — you know, there’s no CG. I prefer the original Yoda in Star Wars as opposed to the CG Yoda. I love puppets and animatronics.
I’m with you. He needs to go and rewatch those films. That should be your mission.
To make him a believer? [Laughs] I’ll try.
Next, Fox chats about her role in this week’s Friends with Kids, why she enjoys playing comedy, and her experiences working with Judd Apatow and Sacha Baron Cohen.
Let’s talk a little about Friends with Kids. This is an ensemble comedy, and a different kind of movie for you. How’d you get involved?
Megan Fox: I think that there were a few names that Jen [director Jennifer Westfeldt] was considering to play Mary Jane, and she came over to my house to meet with me about it. We ended up talking for hours. I think it was maybe three hours, and we were talking about astrology and nothing that had anything to do with the movie — but we ended up getting along well so it sort of came about that way.
Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph — you got a fine cast to work with there. What was that like?
Well they’re all… first of all I feel like they were such a safe choice to make, because the movie’s gonna be amazing because the talent in the movie is so high. There’s so many really strong comedians and fantastic actors in it, and I just wanted the opportunity to get to work with them. I sort of felt the pressure was off of me, you know — I didn’t have to carry it or do anything spectacular to move the story along. It wasn’t really about me, which I really appreciated. I really enjoyed the process of that. And they’re also all good friends, which I feel like is an easier environment to work in and walk in to — as opposed to this sort of awkward, get- to-know-you stage that people go through when the entire cast has not met one another and is not familiar with each other.
With that pressure off, did you get a taste for doing more of these kinds of smaller films?
Yeah, I love it. I also really enjoy being a part of an ensemble cast. It was fun to go to work every day, and that’s a nice feeling to have — to wake up and be happy that you’re going to work. It’s not always that way.
It sounds like you don’t miss being part of a huge juggernaut production.
Ah… I don’t. There is something about filming those types of movies that is so [laughs]… there’s a lot of adrenalin each day because you never know what’s gonna happen, and literally going to work was dangerous. It was like, “Well, who on the crew is gonna almost get blown up today?” Which was, you know, there’s something really fun in it — I mean, it’s psychotic, but there’s something really fun and kind of frighteningly enjoyable about doing that. But you can’t always do that. [Laughs] That’s sort of a once-in-a-lifetime, or you maybe do that a couple of times, but you can’t make a living out of doing that. It’ll kill you.
You’ve done comedy before: Jennifer’s Body, for example, which most people unfortunately didn’t get—
[Sighs] I know.
Is comedy something you’d like to pursue?
I mean, I’m much more comfortable doing comedy. It feels, I don’t know — it’s a better environment for me and I just enjoy it more. That’s not to say that I’ll be successful at doing it, but right now I at least have more fun on comedy sets.
There’s less chance of getting blown up.
What was it like working with Judd Apatow on This is 40?
I love him. He’s such a nice guy. I never saw him get angry or impatient; he’s just this big, happy kid who also happens to be a genius. The way he shoots is so open and so creative. There’s so much improv on his set, it’s crazy. I don’t know how he has the foresight to take all of that and make it into a movie, because he has endless hours of material of all of these comedians that just spend all day improv’ing in these scenes. I loved working with him; he’s one of my favorite people.
And you’re in The Dictator — that’s just a cameo?
Yeah, it’s just a cameo I shot one day. [Laughs] But, you know — it’s Sacha, so it’s gonna be really interesting. It pushes some boundaries. I had a good time. He was a gentleman, but he’s really hysterical and very funny. That was a good experience as well. I haven’t seen the movie yet but I think it’s probably going to be really funny.
Did he stay in character while he was filming?
Yeah he did. He was in character the whole time. He would come out of character for a few minutes, but he has this song — he has this sort of chanting — that he would do to get himself back into his Dictator character, which he would do right as we were rolling
Friends with Kids is in theaters this week.