SANTA MONICA, California — It's the sequel to the third-highest-grossing film of last year. It is drinking from a wellspring that features more than 20 years of beloved mythology. Michael BayMichael Bay is making it, so you know it will be loud, explosive and most important of all, awesome.
There are a lot of reasons to care about the sequel to "Transformers," so when fast-rising "Rambo" star Matthew Marsden came to MTV News for his first-ever interview since landing a high-profile role in the film, we revved our engines faster than Optimus Prime taking Shia LaBeoufShia LaBeouf for a joyride.
"It was one of the comic books I used to get," the affable English actor grinned when he stopped by our studio recently, discussing his lifelong obsession with the Autobots and the Decepticons. "I was an avid comic book reader as a kid; I used to get literally one every day. I'd get Spider-Man,' 'X-Men,' mainly all the Marvel comics, and Saturday was 'TransformersTransformers' day. ... I was a real big fan of 'Transformers,' and I went opening day to see the first [Michael Bay movie]. I loved it. I thought Shia was amazing. He's a very talented actor, and I think they did all the Transformers justice."
"Like everyone else," he insisted, "I want to see more."
Lately, Marsden has been receiving a front-row peek most geeks would kill for. "Transformers: Revenge of the FallenTransformers: Revenge of the Fallen" recently suspended filming temporarily in anticipation of the possible SAG strike, but before it did, Marsden was able to shoot key scenes for the top-secret flick opposite Tyrese GibsonTyrese Gibson (as Sergeant Epps), Josh DuhamelJosh Duhamel (Captain Lennox), a bunch of ill-fated soldiers and one ticked-off Decepticon.
"I'm part of a multi-national force," he said of his character, Graham. "What's going on right now is I'm a British Special Forces officer that's attached to Lennox's team. Well, there's two of us initially. And we're battling the bad guys."
Revealing that his character's action scenes "hit it straight from the very beginning," Marsden said that Graham is a very intense character based on real British Special Forces officers. "I just try to be real," he said. "My character is not an amusing character. He's a soldier, so all the stuff that I did is very much rooted in reality and what I know from the experiences of my friends [who are in the military]. So, it's just very real and nothing über-spectacular.
"We went to Pennsylvania and shot at the Bethlehem Steel Plant, which was really amazing," he recalled, discussing a moment when the soldiers battle a Decepticon. "We had this scene where it's, like, 'That's where he is!' and you have to shoot at him. 'He's going that way!' It's quite a far distance away, so we had to use a laser pointer [to stand in for the robot]. It's all fun; I love that stuff.
"There are bad guys there and we have to go and get them," he said of the scene. "That's basically it."
One of only two new actors to star in the sequel (with Rainn Wilson), Marsden explained how his character is introduced in the film: "Tyrese and I work together; we're part of a team, so it's certainly implied that we've been working together for some time since the last one," he said. "U.S. Special Ops guys go off in the army and work with the British army, and it's interchangeable, and we all work from similar playbooks. ... We're a multi-national force that will go wherever it takes."
Unfortunately, his travels have not taken him to the location of the sequel's two biggest stars, LaBeouf and Megan FoxMegan Fox. "No, no," he explained, saying the film's plot features segmented story lines, much like the original film. "I haven't [met them] because I'm part of Lennox's team. So, we go off and we do our thing separately. We're the military unit — they're doing their other things."
Holding out hope for script pages he hasn't received yet, he added: "I presume that we're going to come together at some point.
"They're working with the Autobots, [so] they're definitely going to know some of the strengths and weaknesses of different robots," he said. "So, if they're working together with an alien life-form, which they didn't initially, then obviously they're going to know more. In the first one, they were actually finding out what they were because they didn't know. ... Now they're aware of what they are, and we're part of the task force specifically to go and deal with them. ... I just know that I've got a big chunk to come, and I'm sure there's going to be a lot of action in it."
With the death of Megatron, and Starscream's return from Cybertron with reinforcements, you can expect plenty of new Transformers in the flick. "They're going to be bringing more Transformers in," Marsden revealed. "And there's definitely [some] in the scene that we do, different Transformers, so fans should be very excited."
Until the filming resumes, Marsden certainly will remain every bit as thrilled, particularly with the knowledge that his audition with Bay went so well that the director beefed-up his character's role considerably. "I just went in and met with Michael, read the lines," Marsden remembered. "We got to talking about other things, and Michael and I just hit it off. Michael's a big fan of the military, and I'm a big fan of the military, we both support the troops. ... He apparently has ramped the character up for me. I know I don't die; that's as much as I know so far, so that can't be bad, can it?"
With a second sequel possibly in his future, the actor is clearly enjoying his transformation into a leading man for one of Hollywood's most powerful franchises. "Yeah, I think it will just keep going," he grinned, looking forward to the "Revenge of the Fallen" release in June 2009. "As long as Michael is involved along with these very creative individuals, they've got the mix right. When you have [producer] Steven SpielbergSteven Spielberg involved and Michael Bay, you're in a no-lose situation."
Check out everything we've got on "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen."
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