Megan Fox’s last two appearances at the Toronto International Film Festival were for projects where the eventual response was, shall we say, mixed. “Jennifer’s Body” came and went from theaters weeks after its TIFF premiere in 2009, while the Mickey Rourke-Bill Murray-costarring “Passion Play” was not just the most derided film of the 2010 festival, but one of the year’s most loudly panned releases, period.
But her 2011 experience was certainly different. Fox costars in Jennifer Westfeldt’s “Friends With Kids,” which garnered a warm audience reaction and notable buzz following its two packed public screenings. (It is rumored to be near a release deal.) The comedy’s cast of heavyhitters—Adam Scott, Jon Hamm, and “Bridesmaids” duo Maya Rudolph and Kristen Wiig—are noteworthy, but so is the performance of Megan Fox. While her role in “Friends With Kids” is not a lead, it’s likely to surprise. She handles it with aplomb, acquitting herself especially well during the film’s memorably contentious skit-trip dinner party. It’s a strong, assured performance that is, as she put it, “human.”
It’s the first in three straight comedies for the “Transformers” star, who recently wrapped on both Judd Apatow’s highly-secretive “Knocked Up” follow-up, said to be called “This is Forty,” and the latest Sacha Baron Cohen-Larry Charles team-up, “The Dictator.” We chatted with Fox after a “Friends” screening in Toronto about Westfeldt’s film, the Apatow project, “The Dictator,” and more.
1. Her ideal castmate? Not Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Christian Bale, Denzel Washington, or Tom Hanks, but Michael Bluth.
“You know who I do love and have wanted to work with for awhile is Jason Bateman, because I think he’s really funny, and I loved "Arrested Development." I feel like he would be fun to work with.” As for directors? “Nobody in particular. There’s lots of amazing ones left, but I feel like I’ve worked with some very good ones, some of the biggest in the industry.”
2. Her role in “The Dictator” came about after a personal request from one Sacha Baron Cohen.
“Sacha called and asked me if I would do something for him, and I said yes. He was so nice, and so funny, and so kind.” Fox would not say whether or not the role is large or small, but “do something for him” seems to imply small.
3. She’s more than aware of what moviegoers think of her past work, as evidenced by this line, on the TIFF response to “Friends With Kids”:
“The audience seemed to like it, and that’s sort of the response I got from my agents, that this was a ‘human’ role, which is different from some of the films I’ve done.” She also evidenced a nicely sharp edge, responding to kind words about “Friends” with: “People seem to like it, but I don’t know that anyone would come in here and say they didn’t.”
4. As the stepmother to husband Brian Austin Green's son, she perhaps identifies more with some of the other, older characters in "Friends With Kids" than she does with her own.
At a mere 25, Fox is the youngest member of the main cast of Westfeldt's film, but she's something of an old soul, thanks to being a stepmother. "Mary Jane is very sort of independent and not really the relationship type and doesn’t like kids or animals, she’s kind of the opposite of how I am... it’s sort of a foreign thing for me, because I’ve already been that person who’s in a family and goes to bed at 9:00 every night since I was 18 or 19 years old, so I don’t know... I felt like I saw myself in some of the other characters who were the friends with kids, obviously. Not so much in my character."
5. While not mentioning Michael Bay specifically, she made clear that she still believes in her comments about the on-set experience.
This, she says, influenced her recent path into the world of comedy: “The conscious effort was that I wanted to work with certain people who I felt would provide a really happy, healthy, fun work environment. … It’s fun to go to work, so it’s addicting. ... I wouldn’t mind doing more comedies, but I do love action movies as well. There’s something really fun about the adrenaline rush you get on set every day, because they are outrageous places to work … [But] It’s fun to keep going to work smiling … It’s so nice. I wish that for everyone.” Perhaps this comment on Apatow is also telling: “Judd is amazing. … He is the nicest man in the whole world, and I love him. If you’re a fan, you should know how amazingly wonderful he is.”