Josh Duhamel

Joshua David Duhamel was born on 14 November 1972 in North Dakota. The 6' 3"-tall star studied biology with the intention of going to dental school after getting his degree. But when a scout for a modelling agency in San Francisco spotted him, he was soon employed as a professional model. Modelling eventually gave way to acting as Duhamel was asked to audition for the title character in The Picture of Dorian Gray (2004). This helped him land a lead role in the daytime soap All My Children. Duhamel landed one of the starring roles alongside Oscar-nominated James Caan in the TV show, Las Vegas, playing Danny McCoy, who works in the security department in Montecito. Sci-fi-online caught up with Duhamel as his his latest film, Transformers, was due to be released in UK cinemas...

Sci-fi-online: How did you initially become involved with Transformers?

Josh Duhamel: I was originally meeting with Michael Bay's two partners to do The Hitcher.

I went to his offices to meet with Brad Fuller and Andrew Form, and Michael Bay popped his head in to say hello to talk about The Hitcher, and whatever.

And then we started talking about what he was going to be doing next, and it was Transformers... I was thinking: "Transformers? They're making that a movie?" Because I grew up with these things. And I was like: "How are they gonna do that?"

I really didn't think much more about it other than I knew it was going to be cool since he was going to be doing it. But I couldn't really even visualise how they would make that movie.

Sure enough, two months later we get a call that we wants to meet with me on Transformers. And sure enough, after a couple of auditions and a couple more meetings, I'm on the set of this one, rather than the one I was originally meeting on. So that's sort of how I became involved. I went in to read the script in his office shortly after I got the part.

SFO: The producers call you the second Hugh Jackman. How do you feel about that?

JD: They do? They call me the second Hugh Jackman? That's good. I'll take that. Yeah, I love his work. I've never met him, I can't comment on him personally, but I love the way he carries himself in his career, so yeah, I'll take that compliment. [Laughs]

SFO: How was working with Michael Bay. Was he everything you expected him to be?

JD: No, he's not. He's... you hear stories that Michael Bay is this... he's tough and a tyrant and all these things, and I have to say that I've had a blast working with him. I really like the guy. And I admire him more than anything because he's uh... to take on the size of the movies that he does, and the pressure that he takes on, you can understand why he needs to be demanding, and has to be in control, and he knows exactly what he wants. And I think I was expecting worse, but he's actually fair. He's very fair.

The crew loves him, you know, everybody respects what he does. As hard as he can be, the crew gets him and understands what he's looking for and nobody ever takes it personally.

And he's a lot more fun than I expected. He really has a sense of humour. He may yell, but at the same time, he'll joke with you about it afterwards. So you never take it personally, and everybody is fair game, so it's all about making a good movie.

I'm also really impressed with how much work and preparation he does before he starts a film. He knows every beat, he knows what everybody's job is on the set, so it's good to know that the guy who's in charge knows exactly what he's doing.

SFO: What did he require of you during prep for this film? And you of yourself?

JD: Well I knew that... [Michael Bay] told me that before we started... he wanted to know if I'd had an athletic background or if I was going to be able to handle the physicality of it. And I knew that I'd be able, but he said: "You know my guys get beat up in these films and I want you to be ready for that."

That sort of excited me [laughs]... because I love being able to do things that are more physical because it makes the job easier if you can incorporate some kind of physicality to [the role].

So I trained quite a bit, but I probably should have done more cardiovascular stuff than I did because I didn't realise I was going to be running with a 40-pound gun up and down the streets seven or eight times a shot.

But, yeah, that and the preparation going to Fort Irwin, which was a real retrospective on what soldiers go through before they go to war.

SFO: How do you unwind after a stressful day?

JD: Well, I've never appreciated time off more than I do right now with this movie and doing the TV show [Las Vegas] at the same time. All I do is go home.

The first thing that I'll do is read what I have to do the next day, and if it's a lot, I'll work on that. Otherwise, I'll just have a beer and watch a football game or basketball, or a baseball game or whatever, and just play with my dogs, just chill. I have two wiener dogs, two dachshunds.

SFO: You mentioned earlier that you grew up with Transformers. What's your favourite Transformer of all time?

JD: Well, I've thought about this a lot. When I'm on... when you get to see the actual autos, the actual cars out there, so you get to kind of see which one would I want if I were a kid? And if this were in a toy form, which one would I want?

I think the one that I would... if I were a kid and I'd just seen this movie, the first one that I would probably buy is Ironhide, the big truck, the big black truck. Maybe it's because I have a black truck and I just have an affinity for that one, for whatever reason. It's just a fun toy to play with.

SFO: Was it difficult shooting the scenes where you fight with the robots?

JD: Not really. It hasn't been as hard as I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to be more difficult because I thought that more of it was going to be done against green screen or blue screen.

There's just so much stuff going on, running up and down the streets, bombs going off, shooting guns and everything that it feels as if they're really there. And I'd seen enough of the animatics before so I know what they're going to look like when they're back there, and I've seen the artwork so I have a pretty specific vision of what these things are going to look like, so it hasn't been as hard.

Once in a while, [I have to ask,] "OK, so which one is walking where? And what is it doing? It's fought from the building and it's crashing down and it's taking its helicopter blade and slashing through this car over here? OK."

As long as you know exactly what they're doing, you can react to it.

SFO: If a sequel presents itself, would you be interested in that?

JD: Yeah. This has been, ah... it's not exactly a character piece that I'm able to do here because most of it is just battle. I'm mostly battling these things, and there's a little here and there, but I understand that this is a movie about the robots first and foremost, mostly introducing them and why they're here and what they're here for.

But yeah, if the opportunity presented itself, I'd be into it, definitely. I've had a lot of fun. It's been a dream of mine to be in a movie like this, to work with Michael Bay. This is the epitome of the big Hollywood blockbuster movie and you can't ask for more.

SFO: Thank you for your time.

With thanks Stuart Coles at Way to Blue

Transformers is released through Paramount Pictures from 27 July 2007.

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