In the aftermath of the Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen critical lashing and lackluster reaction from many fans (despite enormous commercial success), director Michael Bay was caught-up in a number of uncomfortable conversations. While the negative reaction to the infamous robot Twins, Skids and Mudflap continues to rage-on, the exit of Megan Fox, Bay’s leading lady (whose career the director essentially jump-started) was arguably the most awkward – and left a lot of uncertainty as to what affect the departure would have on Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

Following the casting of Bay’s new Victoria’s Secret model-turned-leading lady, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, and with the next Transformers film less than one month away, cast member Shia LaBeouf is discussing how Fox’s departure affected the Transformers: Dark of the Moon on-set vibe.

Speaking with Hero Complex, LaBeouf certainly indicates that Huntington-Whiteley improved the Transformers work environment, but it’s somewhat hard to tell whether or not either of the high-profile actresses (or potentially Bay himself) will take his comments as praise or a slight.

“Megan developed this Spice Girl strength, this woman-empowerment [stuff] that made her feel awkward about her involvement with Michael, who some people think is a very lascivious filmmaker, the way he films women. Mike films women in a way that appeals to a 16-year-old sexuality. It’s summer. It’s Michael’s style. And I think [Fox] never got comfortable with it. This is a girl who was taken from complete obscurity and placed in a sex-driven role in front of the whole world and told she was the sexiest woman in America. And she had a hard time accepting it. When Mike would ask her to do specific things, there was no time for fluffy talk. We’re on the run. And the one thing Mike lacks is tact. There’s no time for [LaBeouf assumes a gentle voice] ‘I would like you to just arch your back 70 degrees.'”

While the comment is obviously tongue-in-cheek, LaBeouf paints an uncomfortable picture of a Transformers shooting day – not to mention the potentially inflammatory description of Bay “filming women in a way that appeals to a 16-year-old sexuality.” Obviously, LaBeouf is just calling it like he sees it, but it’s unwise to assume that Bay will just go ahead and take the assertion as a charming compliment. Similarly, LeBeouf seems to be, at some level, praising Fox for being an empowered leading lady – while at the same time undermining that strength by comparing her to a Spice Girl and asserting that, as a result, she was difficult to work with and incompatible with Bay’s approach to filmmaking.

That said, it’s no surprise to hear LaBeouf praise his new love-interest, but besides the compliment/criticism directed at Fox, the actor then proceeds to lay out a somewhat bizarre picture of Huntington-Whitley – pointing out that the Victoria’s Secret model is better-suited for a Bay shoot – i.e. one geared toward “16-year-old sexuality.”

“Rosie comes with this Victoria’s Secret background, and she’s comfortable with it, so she can get down with Mike’s way of working and it makes the whole set vibe very different.”

Certainly, LaBeouf is attempting to be supportive of Huntington-Whitley, but given the “model-turned-actress” label and untested criticism that fans have heaped on the newly-minted starlet, it’s hard to imagine that the Transformers actress would be as flattered by that comment as she would have been by one that highlights her success on-screen.

Even when LaBeouf directs his attention to the film itself, there’s still a hint of the actor’s feelings about his two leading-ladies:

“Sam’s sort of frustrated. He has no purpose in life. When he was with the Autobots, he had purpose. He was needed. But he’s got this very supportive girl [Huntington-Whitley’s Carly Miller] who’s having him go to these job interviews and trying to nurture him, get him back on his feet. It’s a different female energy than he experienced with Mikaela, who was a very cold biker chick. This woman’s more of a maternal, loving type. Sam wants a domestic, eggs-in-the-morning kind of a thing.”

No doubt LaBeouf is in a tough spot: he has to roll with the punches he’s been dealt here; performers and directors have falling-outs and replacements are cast all the time. The industry is an awkward place where someone like LaBeouf has to toe the line between promoting the film he’s out there to sell, while also communicating his feelings in a way that isn’t mean-spirited or alienating. Still, while LaBeouf may have genuinely been aiming to compliment everyone here, there is still a lot of room for miscommunication and misconception in his wording.

With a month left until the release of Bay’s final Transformers film we’ll have to wait a bit longer to see how the LaBeouf/Huntington-Whitley dynamic plays-out on screen. Love or hate Megan Fox (much like LaBeouf seems to assert), there’s no doubt that she had a big impact on the franchise – and left some large shoes to fill.

Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick — and let us know which Transformers girl is your favorite.

Transformers: Dark of the Moon hits regular theaters and IMAX on July 1st, in 2D and 3D.

Source: Hero Complex