Interview with John Turturro for Transformers Revenge of the Fallen

From the set of Transformers 2, actor turned director John Turturro talks all things autobots!

He rose to prominence as a favourite of filmmakers like Spike Lee and the Coen Brothers with early roles in “Do the Right Thing” and “Miller’s Crossing” making him a go-to guy for volatile, complex characters. Now the actor turned director John Turturro is returning to work with Michael Bay for a second time in Transformers 2. caught up with the actor on set of the film to discuss all things autobot!


QUESTION: You are about to make film history when you become one of the only actors to be filmed running up a Pyramid?

JOHN TURTURRO: I climbed a fake Pyramid in LA and that was hard enough so I don’t know that I will run. But it will be fun. I can understand why they don’t allow people on the Pyramids…erosion and garbage and everything…and the Pyramids are quite something to see. Until now I had only seen them in books and documentaries. As a child of a builder – my father was a builder – I still cannot believe how level and consistent they are.

QUESTION: How is director Michael Bay on set?

JOHN TURTURRO: I get along with Michael; otherwise I would not be here. We change things all the time. These films are so action driven, so to get in comedy is a little bit of a dance and a balance. Michael and I try different things. He is a hard worker who brings ideas to the set. My character is basically based on Michael, but he doesn’t know that. (JOKES)

QUESTION: Why did you agree to do the first Transformers film?

JOHN TURTURRO: My older son knew the toys and he told me not to even read the script – I have turned down so many movies – he just said for me to do it! I read some of it and they obviously wanted to develop something for me, so I thought that I would give it a try. Not everything that I did in the first film made it [to the screen] and there were things that I really liked that I wished had been in. But that’s part of making movies. So when we did this one I said that if I was going to be more essential then I would consider doing it. Although not everything made it in the first film, I had fun with Michael. I like working with Shia, Megan and Ramon, with whom I had worked before.

QUESTION: Should you pay more attention to your son’s view on scripts?

JOHN TURTURRO: My older son has helped me turn down some really lucrative jobs! I ended up doing a play instead – he has good taste. What happens is that taste changes every couple of years. So you do something that they liked when they were 12. Three years later, they ask why I did that. So I try to vary what I do. Now the business is transforming into being really big films and small films. You used to be able to make a living doing medium sized films, but those films don’t really exist any more. So when I need a workout I do a play.

QUESTION: In the first film you were antagonistic toward the Autobots. What about this time?

JOHN TURTURRO: There is a little left over but he is trying to figure out what is going on. This time I may do one of the robot voices. I said it would be fun. I don’t know if this will make it on to the film but I also have a little Transformer toy in my pocket that I take out one time. Well they say it is a toy, but we know different!

QUESTION: Word is that your character faces more humiliation in this sequel?

JOHN TURTURRO: Who said that! The producer! (JOKES) He has never given up his dream. He knows what is going on, it is just that no-one believes him. He starts off working in his mom’s deli and then goes with Shia, Megan and Ramon to save the world. The idea of my character working in his mom’s deli is from something that Michael and I were talking about. We were trying to make a back -story for the guy. That he lives with his mother and he is one of those guys who is a geek. She is just seen in a little sequence and she is kind of the boss.

QUESTION: Have you ever worked in a deli?

JOHN TURTURRO: I worked in a luncheonette where I was the dishwasher. I did not make the sandwiches though. I was at high school and that – apart from working with my father, who was a builder – was one of my first jobs. I think I learned how to wash dishes really well. Later on I was a bartender and I was a good bartender.

QUESTION: Does he still wear the Sector Seven vest?

JOHN TUTURRO: No the outfit I have on, the leather bomber jacket, is something that I use as a disguise when we go into the Space Museum. I steal the jacket from one of the museum dummies.

QUESTION: Does Sector Seven still exist?

JOHN TURTURRO: Actually it doesn’t exist any more but I have certain information and files that can help.

QUESTION: The bomber jacket seems to be the least appropriate thing to wear in the desert heat?

JOHN TURTURRO: That’s why I chose it; it’s a new way to diet! I have all these different disguises because I am an ace spy. My bag is like a magic bag; things just keep coming out of it. We are having fun and I think the script is more consistently comedic – along with the adventure – than the last one was.

QUESTION: Having your underwear exposed in the last film was hilarious.

JOHN TURTURRO: That was my idea. At fittings we come up with different ideas and I said it would be an interesting thing to see what the guy has as underwear.

QUESTION: Do you do more action this time?

JOHN TURTURRO: I do. There was more stuff that did not make it last time. We were trying different things, to see what would work, and there were a lot of shifts of tone. I am more integral to the second half of the film.

QUESTION: Have you more directing planned?

JOHN TURTURRO: The last film I did, Romance And Cigarettes, I felt really good about. I hope to do a film next year in Naples, Italy. It is based on a play called “These Ghosts” that I did. It is a beautiful and romantic ghost story that has something in common with the film, Miracle In Milan. It has that kind of magic realism. That is the plan.


Transformers 2 : Revenge Of The Fallen is in Irish cinemas now!