He’s been one of the most aggressively entertaining filmmakers of the past two decades, and he’s proud of it. In America, his explosive, run-and-gun style of filmmaking has its own slang term, “Bayhem,” and in China his nickname is “BombBay.” He’s tough, cocky, confident and at times controversial. He’s an enormous animal lover (his beloved dog Bonecrusher passed away while filming the latest Transformers movie), and when you talk to him about the things that are most important to him as a filmmaker, the one word that typically escapes his mouth first is “audience.”
It’s all about the audience to Michael Bay. Not just the American audience, but also the international audience. Before bringing his fifth Transformers installment, The Last Knight, to America, he went to China, where they absolutely adore him and Optimus Prime, who’s more popular there than he is stateside. For Bay, entertaining a global audience has been his primary concern going all the way back to 1995’s Bad Boys, and that drive continues in 2017 — albeit with way bigger budgets — as Bay prepares to release his last Transformers movie.
Transformers: The Last Knight (in theaters June 21) is being billed as the “final chapter,” and that’s probably most evident in the fact that it’s Bay’s final chapter as director. With The Last Knight he becomes the rare major filmmaker to helm five parts of the same series, and he’s proud of that accomplishment.
In an extensive interview with Fandango, in which Bay spoke at length about his past, present and future, we poked through his macho gym-rat persona to reveal a guy who’s incredibly passionate about preserving and evolving the big-screen experience while continuing to deliver the adrenaline-induced thrills and chills audiences have come to expect from his style of filmmaking.
Our interview will be broken out into three parts: past, present and future. And since we began our conversation by talking about him stepping away from Transformers and moving on to other things, here is where we’ll kick it off…
“These movies that I’ve done, they are massive movies. They take a lot out of you,” Bay said when we asked if he was finally — for real, this time — stepping away from the Transformers franchise. “I’ve done it enough, and I’ve had a great time doing it. I’m going out with a bang on this one, and I feel like you gotta go out while you’re ahead, you know. I think I’ve had a good run, and I’ve got a lot of other movies I want to do.”
So what are those movies, exactly? To get an idea of where Bay’s head is at, all you have to do is look at the two movies he made in between his five Transformers installments, Pain & Gain and 13 Hours. One was a smaller, more character-driven crime dramedy, while the other was a more action-driven military drama based on real-life events.
For Bay, he’d like to continue mixing it up like that.
“I just read a very bloody hit man movie that was a page turner. That seems like a fun one to do,” he said. “I love doing 13 Hours, I love doing Pain & Gain — I think it’ll be something more serious and more adult, I guess.”
What about stars he’d like to work with?
Maybe it’s because The Mummy just hit theaters, but there’s something about the way Tom Cruise puts so much into his own stunt work that lends itself to the type of movies Michael Bay makes.
So we asked Bay why he’s never worked with Cruise, and surprisingly we learned they’ve spoken about it. Funnily enough, the one thing keeping these two stunt-driven powerhouses from working together are, well, the stunts themselves.
“We’ve talked about,” Bay said. “But I told Tom to his face… I said, ‘Tom, I know you rehearse your stunts over and over, but I like sloppy stunts.’ So that would be the rub working with us — I wouldn’t let him rehearse as much. I like my stunts to be dirty and messy, and not so… [Bay sings the Mission: Impossible theme]. Look, with Mission: Impossible I understand you need very choreographed stunts, but I like dirty, sloppy stunts.”
Another possibility for Bay is to see the director do a film that returns him to a more Bad Boys-centric buddy premise. Though he wouldn’t name the people in question, Bay did tease the fact that he has a meeting on the books with a pair of newer actors.
“There are a couple of new guys I want to work with, and maybe pair them up together. Not that they’d necessarily be action stars, but they potentially could be. They’re quite humorous. I’m not going to say who they are because I haven’t met them yet, but we’ll see.”
When we asked whether we could see Bay make another buddy action-comedy along the lines of Bad Boys, he’s all for it. “Definitely. I love putting actors into unexpected roles,” he said.
So what about Bad Boys 3 then?
The sequel, titled Bad Boys for Life, currently has a release date of November 8, 2018, but no director. Joe Carnahan had to depart the project due to scheduling conflicts, and now there’s a vacant spot. While fans of Bay would love to see him tackle that third installment himself, unfortunately it doesn’t seem like he’s currently a candidate.
“Pretty soon they’re going to be old boys, okay. Pretty soon they’re going to be retired cops instead of active-duty cops,” Bay joked when we asked him about Bad Boys 3. “It’s taken a long time to get that thing going, and I’m not involved in getting it going. They should get it going soon, though. You could definitely get Martin and Will to be funny again — those were fun movies to do.”
We’ll have much more with Michael Bay as we inch closer to the June 21 release of Transformers: The Last Knight. Stay tuned!