Shortly before Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released, I got the chance to speak with Tyrese Gibson on the phone. Since I hadn’t yet seen the film, I couldn’t ask specific questions about the plot or his character. However, since I was able to visit the editing room earlier this year, where I also saw about 15 minutes of the film before its release, I knew enough about the story and the insane Chicago action sequence that we had plenty to discuss. In addition, Gibson talked about Fast Five and Fast Six, filming Transformers in 3D, if he has the desire to direct, how he ended up writing a bestselling book (How to Get Out of Your Own Way), his new album Open Invitation, Twitter, and a lot more. Hit the jump for the audio and transcript.
As usual, you can either click here for the audio, or the full transcript is below.
Tyrese Gibson: Um…order a massage. [laughs]
Seriously, though. Did you have fun there during Fast Five?
Gibson: I had a great time. He should definitely go and eat at all of the local restaurants and go to Ipanema beach. You know, just really get into the spirit of the city. Don’t just go there, do interviews, and leave. You have to really embrace Brazil. It is really special.
I’ve been down there and it is a blast.
I have seen a bunch of footage from this movie. I got to go to the editing room and Bay should a few of us a ton of the movie. I saw a lot of the ending Chicago action sequence. He showed that to us and the scope of this movie is absolutely fucking bananas.
Gibson: Yeah, man. I’m glad that you’ve seen it because I have been having to talk indirectly about the movie because I can’t really go into any specifics. I’m glad you have seen it because I agree that the scope of it is like nothing that I have ever seen in my life.
I have a list of questions for you, but I am just going to jump into that Chicago set piece. The scope of it looks bigger than any summer movie that I have possibly ever seen. Can you talk about how Bay told you about that sequence? How did he explain that set piece to you and how was it like to first step into that set?
Gibson: You know what? To be honest, Transformers is the only movie I have ever worked on in my life where you get to the set on Monday and you’re like, “Yo, this shit was so crazy.” and then you get to set on Tuesday and it is even crazier. Then on Wednesday it is even crazier. The magnitude of everything and the access that they gave us in the city of Chicago was just crazy. We are jumping off the Sears Tower and we are jumping off of the Trump Tower with these wing suits. It is just crazy, man. It is like nothing I have ever seen in my life.
Gibson: Other than the robots, there is no comparison. I think the story is way more focused. We have some new characters that came on board to be a part of this mission with us. The scope and the magnitude – everything Then you add in the 3D element and not having the 3D done in post-production, but actually shooting the film with 3D cameras. It is just crazy.
Can you talk about doing the 3D sequences? I know that Bay shot primarily in 3d. How was that like to work with?
Gibson: It was incredible. He would have us over in his tent every time we would do a big scene. He would drag us over to his tent, he would slap some 3D glasses on us, and then let us watch playback in 3D. It was crazy. I had never done that before.
Gibson: Well, I shot Fast Five and Transformers 3 simultaneously. So I was bouncing between both sets for over 6-7 months. For me, I was able to break the monotony a little bit and not be on the set every single day. That is the beautiful thing about having costars. They get to pick up the pieces when you’re not around.
Was there a week where you were literally shooting Fast Five on Monday and then you were shooting Transformers 3 on Tuesday?
Gibson: Yeah. One day, I shot both movies on the same day. I was on the set of Fast Five and Michael Bay called on the last minute. He said that we were going to be shooting at the space shuttle and we only have one day to get it done. He sent me his private plane and picked me up in Atlanta. I shot with Vin Diesel, Paul Walker, and Dwayne Johnson that morning and I was on the set of Transformers by 4pm.
That sounds like a lot of fun.
Gibson: It was the greatest shit ever, man. I was like, “Man, it doesn’t get any bigger and better than this. This is real heavyweight right here.”
Gibson: I have seen the whole movie.
Have you seen the finished version?
Gibson: I have seen the whole movie. I was just with Michael [Bay] the other day and he said to me, “Tyrese, I just wrapped the movie. I am done. I just turned it in last night.” I was like, “Wow.” So it is amazing that is this big is even being worked on down to the last minute. I mean, we are down to 15 days before the release.
We have giant robots punching each other in the face and that takes time to do.
Gibson: The special effects crew over at ILM are amazing. I don’t know how they do it. It just shows you that mothers and fathers should never stop their kids from playing with computers.
I completely agree. I definitely want to ask you about Fast Five. Obviously, that movie made a ton of money. When did you find out that they were going to shake up the genre like that and turn it into a heist movie?
Gibson: I was just happy that the fans showed up. I mean, it is over $600 million worldwide right now and it is still performing right now over overseas. It is still opening up in different regions. You know, you just want to work on something that everybody is going to show up and appreciate. As actors, you want to work on a movie that people are going to show up for and enjoy especially when you are putting so much time and effort into something. People walked away from Fast Five and they laughed, they were on the edge of their seat, and there was a lot of action. More than anything, I am just happy with it being multiethnic and it crushed a lot of stereotypes. A lot of these movies are starting to look really black and really white. But it was white, black, Asian, and Israeli. It was every nationality that was possible in one movie, and the movie performed big. I think movies like Fast Five are going to create a new standard in Hollywood. It is stuff like that that really makes me feel good about being a part of it.
I don’t know if you know this but there is something going on right now in Las Vegas called the Licensing Expo. At the Licensing Expo, there is a banner for Fast and Furious 6 and it says 2013 at the bottom. Let’s be honest here, has anyone started talking to you about a 6th movie?
Gibson: There is some buzz and I know that they brought the writer, Chris Morgan, who did a great job on it back on board. To be honest, I’m sure there has to be a Fast Six because the fans showed up and responded so well to it. I just have to figure out which role I’m going to play and if it even makes sense for me to do a six. We just have to cross that bridge when we get there.
Gibson: You know what? I want to be more of an educated director. So I’ve been around many directors and I feel like I know what I want to see. But I want to be able to know the different camera lens sizes. I want to be able to go out there with a camera and actually play around with some ideas and stuff before I could ever put that hat on. I’ve already written seven screenplays, I’m developing TV shows, I have a reality TV show going, I’ve just written my first book which is a New York Times bestseller called How to Get Out of Your Own Way, and I just completed my new album called Open Invitation. So I like to spread my gifts and my talents out there. But I also like to tackle things that I am a little bit more experienced in before I do it.
I was going to ask you about music. The big question is: why don’t you have a song on the Transformers 3 soundtrack or any of the other Transformers soundtracks?
Gibson: It wasn’t for a lack of effort. I’m not Led Zeppelin, Metallica, or Linkin Park. I think the Transformers soundtrack guys really lean towards these mainstream pop acts that do rock n roll. I am more of a soul singer and R&B. So it doesn’t really cater to my type of music.
I can think of way working that in with someone flipping a channel on Bumblebee and your song comes on with a double take on you. I think there is a way of working a joke in there with your music and you playing the military guy.
Gibson: That would be funny. You should call Michael Bay and tell him that.
When I interview him for this movie I will definitely mention that. Although, there is a lot of talk that this is his last one. So we will see.
Gibson: I hope this is not his last one because I think he was made to direct these films. The beautiful thing is that Steven Spielberg just so happens to be the Executive Producer on it. Out of all people that know this world inside and out it is Steven. So just maybe Steven will step up and direct four if Michael decides to not do it.
Gibson: I tweet a lot, bro. I tweet a lot. I’m all about putting positive energy out there in the universe. I have over 1.7 million followers and it just growing. It just keeps growing. I was just at 1.79 the other day and now I think it is 1.713 or 1.715. It just positive energy that put out in the universe and the fans keep retweeting it and showing up. I remember when I was at 1 million followers and I remember when I was at my first 500. So you put this energy in the universe and they show up. I think right now people are intrigued and they want to think about more things. I think people are trying to look for a sense of direction and are trying to figure out what is the next phase is in their life. That is what inspired me to write my book. I just got a letter two weeks ago that Michelle Obama read my book. She wrote me a letter about my book from The White House.
Gibson: So it is the book being on the kindle and iBooks with people reading it on their iPhones and iPads. If you go to Amazon I have 5 stars. It’s like 89 reviews and I have 76 5 stars.
How long did it take you to write the book?
Gibson: It took me a year and a half to write it, but its been on my mind for about 4 years.
You have worked a long time on these three Transformers movies. Do you have a story about working with Michael Bay that shows what kind of guy he is? I think he is a great filmmaker and, as you just said, made for these Transformers movies. Can you talk about working with him and why he is such a good director?
Gibson: I think the idea of keeping people on their toes is a concept that a lot more directors need to embrace. He keeps everybody on the edge and he shows up with his A game and he expects everybody to be on their A game. He is very focused, driven, and he is very involved. I’ve never in my life been exposed to one man who knows what everybody on a movie set is supposed to be doing. If they slip up, he notices everything. He is small in size, but he has a big heart. He is very loyal to his team. He hires the same crew and cast on his movies. I just love working with him. We have a big party coming up. We are going to go to six or seven different countries to promote Transformers and then me and him are going to do a private party in Miami together. So outside of us working together we are good friends still and I love working with my friends.