Megan Fox feels Hollywood is still run by men, but it is changing the way women are written into movies

Megan Fox feels that Hollywood is still run by men, but it is turning the corner in changing the way women are written into movies.
Megan Fox feels that Hollywood is still run by men, but it is turning the corner in changing the way women are written into movies.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE- PRESSE

Megan Fox is the classic Hollywood hot chick, known more for adorning the covers of men's magazines and "sexiest actress" lists than her dramatic talents.

Add to that the fact that she publicly insulted one of the most powerful directors in the industry, which led to her being fired from the Transformers robot franchise, and the stereotype of the sexy-but-spoilt (and maybe slightly dim) starlet is complete.

But in person, Fox does a pretty good job of shattering this impression. Speaking to Life! and other reporters about her new movie, the comic book-inspired Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the 28-year-old is opinionated but also unfailingly thoughtful, articulate and engaging, albeit given to the odd bout of New Age kookiness.

The star of the first two Transformers movies (2007 and 2009) is also unexpectedly hilarious, although with a bone-dry wit that means comments such as the one she made at a press conference over the weekend - saying that those who do not like the movie "can f*** off" - do not translate well into print.

Yet sitting next to her, zingers like these are accompanied by an unmistakable glint of mischief and humour in those searing blue eyes. She also appears utterly comfortable in her own skin and, as a result of that, unusually at ease dealing with the press.

The banter begins as soon as she walks into the room at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles and remarks on how muggy it is that day.

A male reporter, clearly enthralled by this vision in a tasteful monochrome dress, feels the need to apologise for the weather, to which the actress immediately says, with pitch-perfect comic flair: "I mean, I don't imagine it's your fault..."

She soon has the table in stitches again with a series of wisecracks, which she delivers deadpan, including the one about her childhood obsession with the 1991 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie, The Secret Of The Ooze, which featured rapper Vanilla Ice.

"I remember having a big crush on Vanilla Ice, who, strangely, looks a little bit like my husband, if you think about it," she quips.

She is referring to former 90210 star and longtime partner Brian Austin Green, 41, who is the father of her sons Noah, one, and Bodhi, five months old, and who can be seen waiting for her to complete her interviews that day.

Whereas other actors will typically freeze at intrusive or impertinent questions, or roll their eyes at ones they have heard multiple times before, Fox is an absolute pro.

Quizzed as to whether being so beautiful has affected her career for better or for worse, she notes that she gets "asked this question a lot", but still gives it due consideration.

"I guess I don't really identify with it that much - I feel like actresses are supposed to be attractive people, that's how it's been since the beginning of Hollywood, and I can't imagine it getting in your way.

"And I think in terms of being taken seriously as an actress, that falls on me to prove whether or not I've earned that, those accolades or respect."

She continues: "I don't think that people underestimate me because of how I look. However, I do feel that being a woman, you're underestimated more often than men, just in general, because we still live in a misogynistic society."

Fox - whose work in Transformers led to two Razzie nominations in 2009, for Worst Actress and, with co-star Shia Labeouf, Worst Screen Couple - has received better notices in recent years.

Character-actor parts in more adult-friendly comedies such as This Is 40 (2012) and Friends With Kids (2011) revealed an aptitude in her for comedy as well as a willingness to spoof her sex- symbol status.

When Life! asks if she ever turns down a role because it reinforces a certain image of her, or a female stereotype, she says: "Definitely not in terms of a comedy - I don't have a problem playing into that at all."

Despite her beliefs about sexism, she proves to be rather optimistic about how the movie industry is progressing on that front.

"You know, I've got to tell you from the scripts I read, Hollywood's doing a pretty good job of turning a corner. They're changing the way women are being written into movies, and they're also aware none of us want to play idiots that don't have a character arc or anything like that."

One of her challenges, she reveals, is that "I've always been adverse to any sort of male authority, from childhood, and it's very present still now".

"That's obviously one of the things I'm meant to face - I have come across the same type of male presence in my life over and over again," she says.

In Hollywood, this has manifested itself "not just in being sexualised or demeaned, but I guess 'dismissed' is the word - because this is a town that is still essentially run by men, and you're not allowed to show any weakness as a woman".

A reporter sees the opening and swoops in to ask about the biggest blot on her career - the fact that she was dropped from the third Transformers movie in 2011, Dark Of The Moon, following comments she made to the media about director Michael Bay in 2009.

She had told Wonderland Magazine that Bay is "like Napoleon and he wants to create this insane, infamous mad-man reputation" and "to be like Hitler on his sets - and he is".

Athough she did say at that time that "when you get him away from set, and he's not in director mode, I really enjoy his personality because he's so hopelessly awkward", she was slammed for her comments by both Bay and co-star LaBeouf, who implied she had been lazy and ungrateful.

She and Bay, who is executive producer on this latest Turtles film, have now reportedly reconciled.

And the actress is as cool as they come when asked about it - there is no sidelong glare at a publicist to kill the question or save her from it, as can happen in these situations.

"I mean, nothing really happened," she purrs. "We just got to a point where we weren't going to make that movie together. And we moved on, and it was fine. We've always had a good relationship but we also are two strong-willed individuals who have opinions."

She is also unapologetic about continuing to star in these blockbuster, popcorn movies that are big on action and adventure but often thin on character and story, anticipating this critique in the middle of one journalist's rambling remark about how her comedic work shows more of her range.

"So why did I go backwards, is that what you want to know?" she says with a smile.

"No, I want to stick with this genre because I love it - I love watching these movies, I love being in these movies.

"I'm not like a really intense, suffering artist that needs to make something that will be nominated for an Oscar - I don't care about that. Life should be fun, I don't think it should be so serious or such a struggle. And I want my career to reflect that, so if I can continue making movies like this I'll be really happy."

stlife@sph.com.sg

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles opens in Singapore tomorrow.

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