Michael Bay remembers the day that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen nearly fell apart. It was Sunday, July 27, 2008. "I always look on CNN.com," says the filmmaker. "And there it was: Shia LaBeouf in a car crash... Oh, God. I read it and thought, 'No, this can't be true."The Space Bridge is from the G1 cartoons that was built by the Constructicons (and designed by Soundwave if remember right) that allows instant transportation between Earth and Cybertron. It was really a story convenience to allow stories to be set on Cybertron with established characters while introducing new ones (such as Shockwave). How this could play into the movie should be interesting. Maybe it is how so many Decepticons get to Earth without the attention grabbing blaze across the skyline before crashing through something. Of course, if your goal is destruction, not a bad way to go about it as the trailers show.
But it was. The 22-year-old star, who was about one-third of the way through shooting the sequel to Bay's 2007 hit Transformers, had seriously injured his left hand in an early-morning traffic accident in West Hollywood.
While he was naturally concerned about LaBeouf's health, Bay also had a movie to finish. With his leading man's cooperation, he moved decisively to keep from shutting down the production, and a bandaged LaBeouf returned to the set after just a few weeks - against the advice of one of his doctors, the actor says. The screenwriters tweaked the script so that his character...get hurt in a sort of teleportation device called a "space bridge." LaBeouf agreed to postpone additional surgery on his hand until after the shoot wrapped in October, and he was outfitted with a custom-made hand cast designed to be both photogenic and superprotective. (There has even been talk of replacing LaBeouf's hand with CG; Bay says it was ruled as too expensive and "a pain in the neck.")
Seven weeks after LaBeouf's accident, the actor is hard at work on Revenge of the Fallen, his face, arms, and one good hand covered in fake sweat-that is, Vaseline. They and several dozen uniform-clad extras playing soldiers are nestled among desert dunes in a picturesque corner New Mexico near the White Sands National Monument.
"We've blown up so many things," says LaBeouf, squinting hard in the reflected sunlight. "A fish tank, a helicopter, concrete tubes. We blew up a library. This set you're looking at? This will all be gone." Indeed, the buildings were constructed with charges built right into them. They're dressed up to look like an Egyptian village, which will later be intercut with IMAX location photography of a real town near the pyramids of Giza. That's the site of the film's final showdown between the good-guy Autobots and bad-guy Decepticons, including the title character, a Lucifer-like figure actually called the Fallen.
Standing atop a dune, Bay is barking into a megaphone at some crew members who've gotten a little too chatty. "Let's have some quiet and some respect!" he yells. "It's not many sets that have live F-16s flying over!" Minutes later, six F-16 warplanes thunder past overhead, piloted by military personnel - though not at taxpayer expense, Bay hastens to point out.
Update: TFW2005 has scans of the article here to read the stuff I left out.