Mark your calendars, boys and girls: June 28, 2011, is officially "Transformers" Day in New York City, as announced at Tuesday night's red-carpet premiere of "Dark of the Moon," the third (and potentially final) installment in Michael Bay's robot-smashing, record-obliterating blockbuster trilogy.
On one hand, it was an event packed with more excitement and enthusiasm than a downtown Chicago brawl between Optimus Prime and his Decepticon rivals. On the other, it was bittersweet.
"It feels like graduation day, you know?" Shia LaBeouf told MTV News about his feelings on the night of the premiere. "I never went to college. I spent all of my college years on the set. This is my graduation. I wish I could have worn one of those funny hats, dude."
But even LaBeouf was able to make light of the situation. Asked what he'd wear underneath his graduation gown, he laughed: "Nothing. A unitard. A leopard unitard and a graduation hat."
For Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the Victoria's Secret model making her acting debut and replacing former leading lady Megan Fox in the process, this was the crowning achievement of an already-breathtaking experience.
"It's blowing my mind to be here right now," she said of the premiere, which took place in a packed stretch of New York's famous Times Square. "I'll never, ever forget the last couple of weeks. It's been a dream come true. You see all of your hard work paying off. Look at all of these amazing people that [came out to] support this movie. It's really humbling."
Humbling (and probably overwhelming) isn't a surprising reaction, considering the presence of hundreds upon hundreds of "Transformers" fans holding signs like "I <3 Bumblebee" and "Shia, It's My Birthday!" in the crowd. For actor Ken Jeong, who's making a big leap from his "Hangover" comedy roots into the significantly more action-oriented "Transformers" universe, his experience wasn't just humbling, but mind-blowing.
"It's out-of-body," he said. "I can't really even process it right now. I make my living doing comedies — lately nude scenes in R-rated comedies — so for me to have a part in this movie in any capacity is truly one of the greatest moments of my career."
For months, those involved with "Dark of the Moon" have proudly declared their third "Transformers" film as the very best in the series. And on the night of the premiere, the stars maintained that sentiment.
"We worked really hard to deliver a full experience, and I think Michael pulled it off," producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura said. "The third act in this movie is the best third act of the series. It did two things: One, the scale is off the charts. But the human beings also have a purpose to them that we were never able to accomplish before. I think that emotional identity with the characters and the way we didn't have that before [is great]."
Tyrese Gibson, returning to the series for a third time as special-ops soldier Epps, had to tip his hat to Bay as well. "Michael Bay, if you're looking at this interview, you're not the emotional type at all, but I'm proud of you, sir," the "Fast Five" star said. "You really, really delivered on this, man. Believe it or not, Michael on this one was very in tune with the fans. He was on the Internet, reading all of the comments and everything that went down with 'Transformers 2.' Compliments to the chef, man. He really, really delivered."
For Bay — who, like Shia, says that this is his last go with the Autobots — the night was something of a send-off as well. But it was just the final night in a long leg of goodbyes, as the "Transformers" crew has traveled to Germany and Russia and now back to the good old US of A to bid adieu to the "Moon."
"We've been traveling the globe, but this is what we came for," Bay said. "This is really fun. Yes, you do get tired, all right, but this is awesome. This is a moment in life you can't [miss]. It's fun."
But even if this might be the last time Bay and LaBeouf get together for a grand "Transformers" event such as this, there's at least one person — the new kid on the block, as it were — who's ready to keep going.
"I'd love to do another film!" Huntington-Whiteley enthused. "Making this movie, we had such fun. It's the hardest I've ever worked and probably ever will work. It's hot, it's dirty, it's sweaty, it's exhilarating. I've been around the best comedians and the best actors in the business. The best director and the best crew. They all became my family, and I thank them very much for supporting me."
Check out everything we've got on "Transformers: Dark of the Moon."
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