While director Michael Bay was busy charting a new course for the Transformers franchise in Transformers 4, actor and voice of Megatron, Hugo Weaving, spent some time reflecting on his past roles as well as upcoming return as Elrond in The Hobbit. Our write-up focused heavily on Weaving's comments regarding a possible return as Red Skull in The Avengers 2 - with the actor stating, "It’s not something I would want to do again [...] Contractually, I would be obliged to, if [Marvel] forced me."
He went on to say, "I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film" - later pointing to his work as Megatron the Transformers trilogy as "meaningless." Understandably, Bay was not pleased with the comment and fired back.
The original Collider interview was innocent enough, when asked about whether or not he'd be returning for Transformers 4, Weaving said:
No. That’s a weird job for me because it honestly was a two-hour voice job, initially. I was doing a play and I actually didn’t have time, anyway. It was one of the only things I’ve ever done where I had no knowledge of it, I didn’t care about it, I didn’t think about it. They wanted me to do it.
However, the more that Weaving expanded on his thoughts, the more they moved away from being open and honest about his reasons for doing the film and, instead, strayed into what could be considered a disapproval of the final product:
In one way, I regret that bit. I don’t regret doing it, but I very rarely do something if it’s meaningless. It was meaningless to me, honestly. I don’t mean that in any nasty way. I did it. It was a two-hour voice job, while I was doing other things. Of course, it’s a massive film that’s made masses of money. I just happened to be the voice of one of the iconic villainous characters. But, my link to that and to Michael Bay is so minimal. I have never met him. I was never on set. I’ve seen his face on Skype. I know nothing about him, really. I just went in and did it. I never read the script. I just have my lines, and I don’t know what they mean. That sounds absolutely pathetic! I’ve never done anything like that, in my life. It’s hard to say any more about it than that, really.
Regardless, Weaving's comment that the role was "meaningless" and that his connection to Bay was "minimal" caught the attention of the blockbuster director - resulting in a heated open letter on the official Michael Bay site. The post has since been taken down but, thanks to Cinemablend, you can read the complete text (note: Bay mentions The Hollywood Reporter likely because THR was the first to focus on the "Megatron" part of Collider's interview):
Do you ever get sick of actors that make $15 million a picture, or even $200,000 for voiceover work that took a brisk one hour and 43 minutes to complete, and then complain about their jobs? With all the problems facing our world today, do these grumbling thespians really think people reading the news actually care about trivial complaints that their job wasn’t ‘artistic enough” or “fulfilling enough”? I guess The Hollywood Reporter thinks so.
What happened to people who had integrity, who did a job, got paid for their hard work, and just smiled afterward? Be happy you even have a job – let alone a job that pays you more than 98% of the people in America.
I have a wonderful idea for all those whiners: They can give their “unhappy job money” to a wonderful Elephant Rescue. It’s the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Africa. I will match the funds they donate.
Regardless of how fans might feel about Bay's Transformers adaptations, Weaving's comments could come off as a bit pretentious - especially given the amount of money (likely $200,000) he was paid for what Bay describes as "one hour and 43 minutes" of work on the original film.
However, it's unlikely that Weaving actually meant to disparage the Transformers franchise, Michael Bay, or the Megatron character and was merely attempting to compare the way he used to approach roles to his present (increasingly selective and artistically challenging) interests. After appearing in numerous high profile blockbuster roles over the years (Mr. Smith in The Matrix, Red Skull in Captain America, Megatron in Transformers, and V in V for Vendetta), often hidden behind make-up and CGI (see: his role as Rex in Babe: Pig in the City), it's no surprise that Weaving is attempting to play-up his preference for nuanced performing - given that he'll appear next as six different variations of the same soul in Cloud Atlas.
While Bay and Weaving fans might be hoping for a high-profile gossip column battle, it seems pretty clear that once Bay cooled down from the initial shock of seeing Weaving's comments in the trades, he thought better of making a big deal out of the interview. Of course there's always the possibility that Hasbro phoned the director up and made it clear Bay needs to play nice - since they might be planning on Megatron toys for their Transformers 4 line.
Follow me on Twitter @benkendrick for more on Transformers 4 as well as future movie, TV, and gaming news.
Transformers 4 is scheduled to hit theaters on June 29th, 2014