Transformers Set Visit: Josh Duhamel


You know him as the head of the surveillance team for the luxury Montecito Casino in NBC’s primetime show “Las Vegas” and now you can catch Josh Duhamel in Michael Bay’s Transformers, in which he trades in his designer label suits for military gear. Hype! hung out with the model-turned-actor for a day on the set and talked to him about his new role.

CS/SHH!: What is the difference between guys in green and guys in black?
Josh Duhamel: The guys in black are part of the underground sector of government called Sector 7. I’m part of the regular military. I’m a captain of special forces in the army.

CS/SHH!: What’s the name of your character?
Duhamel: Captain William Lennox.

CS/SHH!: How does he get involved?
Duhamel: Well, it just sort of happens. They’re not expecting it, of course, which I think is part of the beauty of the script is the fact that it’s set here, now, it’s current and it deals with something that’s actually going on. We’re over in Iraq coming back from a special ops mission when we first encounter them. And the reason I guess, I don’t know how much I can tell, but part of the reason is to take out communications. Yeah, we run across them just sort of accidentally and from there, we figure out… we try everything we have to penetrate or disable them a little bit. We finally figure something out and we come back here to help. It’s pretty cool. I’m having so much fun.

CS/SHH!: Were you a big fan?
Duhamel: Yeah. I look at these things now and I’m like I’m gonna collect all these little toys. You can see the truck’s going to be a toy.

CS/SHH!: So as a fan, you collected different Transformers?
Duhamel: I used to be a huge fan of these things when I was a kid. Just to be out here and just to see how they — just the art alone on the Transformers and how it’s sort of evolved. Just to be part of it, it’s definitely a movie about the robots for sure. But I’m stoked to be able to be on a screen with them. I mean, right here, you can see–you can only imagine what it’s going to look like when the Transformer takes the place of that big pole.

CS/SHH!: Did you do boot camp?
Duhamel: Yes, it was sort of… I wouldn’t really call it a boot camp. I heard about military movies and how they put these guys through the ringer, they try to harden these p*ssy actors basically, which I categorize myself as. So I tried to get in shape for it before I went in. For three or four weeks, I was trying to get in cardiovascular shape, everything. I get there and it was more or less an intensive on… at Fort Irwin, that’s basically the training ground where all the soldiers go from the army before they head over to Iraq. It was more or less an intensive learning, the preparation and the way they sort of live and everything else.

CS/SHH!: Are you working with real soldiers in the movie?
Duhamel: Yeah, those guys are all the real deal, all of them except for Tyrese. Navy SEALS, they’re all Navy SEALS except for one of them who was a ranger. You learn a lot from those guys. You develop a real appreciation for, these kids are like 17-18 years old, men and women about to go over to Iraq and that’s real. So, was something that was pretty valuable to me.

CS/SHH!: Have you seen any of your scenes finished with the robots?
Duhamel: I saw the opening sequence when we were over in White Sands when we first encounter the Transformers. It was still sort of rudimentary but it’s pretty amazing, the amount of technology. This is beyond anything I think they’ve done as far as CGI and making it as photoreal — they said this is going to be more photoreal than anything they’ve done yet.

CS/SHH!: Are you satisfied with your reactions to the robots?
Duhamel: With my reactions? I don’t know. We’ll see. That’s my biggest fear is I just don’t want to suck. Because you never know if what you were looking at, how tall it was. You don’t even know what it looked like at the time. They seem satisfied so I guess that’s good enough.

CS/SHH!: How much of your stuff is you interacting with invisible robots?
Duhamel: Quite a bit actually. Quite a bit of it. Everything we did in the beginning was fighting these things. even though you don’t see them though, these guys, the explosive teams and everything, they make it feel like you’re actually in war, only you don’t see what you’re fighting against. So it felt as if, you know, the bombs are going off, dust and everything was flying everywhere, so it felt real. We just looked where it was coming from and stuff like that, so I did see a little bit of that cut together and it looks pretty wicked.

CS/SHH!: What harm’s way has Michael Bay put you in?
Duhamel: Jeez, the first few weeks was pretty intense. He goes as hard as any of us so you can’t really be soft. You just have to be on the set ready to go whenever. It was 120 degrees out in the desert out there which kind of made it feel more real. But just mostly a lot of bombs. A lot of bombs going off in you ear. At one point, he was like, “Dude, you’ve got to lower your pitch. Your pitch is too high.” And I was like, “What do you mean” and I pulled my thing [ear plug] out and I realized that that’s what, I was trying to scream over the top, like give orders over the top of these earplugs. So there was one day that he was pretty rough on me but otherwise he’s a lot nicer than his reputation. He really is.

CS/SHH!: Looking forward to getting back to TV?
Duhamel: We’re shooting it now. At the same time. We worked last night until like 1:30 and then came here this morning. But it hasn’t been bad. I thought it was going to be a lot worse because I knew there was going to be an overlap of about three months. But this three-four week period now will be the… because we’re working all week on “Vegas” and then come here on the weekends. So, but hey, it could be much worse. I’d much rather have too much work than no work.

CS/SHH!: Do you have many scenes with Shia?
Duhamel: A fair amount. Like I said, the first few weeks, he wasn’t there. It was mostly just the military team. Now that we’re all kind of come together, we met up at Hoover Dam and a lot of this final battle stuff is with him. We’re going to work together in sort of, he sort of takes the thing that he has to and sort of does his heroic thing here.

CS/SHH!: What scene are you shooting today?
Duhamel: Today is part of the final battle scene. We think that we’ve got them and the Decepticons deceived us.

CS/SHH!: Is there any talk about sequels?
Duhamel: As far as I know, yes, but it’s up to them. However ,they write it afterwards. Part of the contract was to do two, but as you know, they can go any way they want in the second one.

CS/SHH!: Do you ride in any of the Transformer cars?
Duhamel: You know what? I actually haven’t ridden in any of them. We do the dune buggies all the time and I look at them all the time. What are your favorites of the ones you see here? [we answer] I like Ironhide. I like the truck. You should see the Decepticons. They’re really badass. Just mean. They look… it’s different from before. I think that the people who sort of designed them really made it really cool again. I think people are really going to dig it. I hope.

Transformers hits theaters on July 4.