chat room

Julie White on Robot Racism in Transformers 2 and How Michael Bay Would’ve Staged Twelfth Night

Julie White is seemingly everywhere right now, appearing in Twelfth Night, this summer’s Shakespeare in the Park production, as well as in last weekend’s surprise art-house hit Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. As fans of White’s Tony-winning theatrical work, in addition to her acting on the criminally underappreciated, ahead-of-its time sitcom Cavemen, we’d leap at any chance to talk to her — and we did when we ran into her following a performance of Night last week. White spoke to Vulture about her Transformers co-stars and how Michael Bay would improve on Shakespeare.

We’ve heard that raccoons have been a factor during Twelfth Night performances….
There’s literally probably twenty of them and there’s a line of trash cans along the back, and on any given night there will be three or four of them on the trash cans. Tonight, there were babies that got stuck under the stairs that lead up to the stage and the mother got shooed away, so tonight the babies just cried in distress for a good fifteen minutes of the first act. And there was nothing you could do because every time you tried to help them, they got more scared. It was crazy.

We also heard a plane….
Did you hear that helicopter during Malvolio’s scene? I thought it was Michael Bay trying to land on the stage! Somebody asked me the difference between Shakespeare and Transformers, and I said, “I think Shakespeare would have used CGI if he’d had it.” He could have done Twelfth Night 2: Revenge of Malvolio. And then he should transform and just mow everybody down. That would be the Bay version.

It’s still surprising to see you in a movie like Transformers.
Definitely; I didn’t do it just for the love of making huge action movies. That’s going to finance my theatrical endeavors.

Has it changed your life?
Shockingly not. Everyone seems to have glommed on to Megan Fox as the sex symbol of the movie. I can’t imagine why. I’m not getting a lot more Sexiest Woman Alive offers in my polka-dot dress and bloomers. Maybe if I had a tattoo.

Or verbal diarrhea?
They do seem to say a lot of crazy shit, but you’ve got to understand that everybody is listening to them. If somebody recorded everything you said for nine hours, you would say some crazy, stupid shit sometime in that nine hours. Shia has no internal edit. But I think it makes him an interesting actor. I don’t know if it’s his inability to edit himself, or just his freedom, but he’s a bold and daring young man. And he’s not as crazy as he seems. He’s smart and wonderful. I love that kid. I fucking love him! Sometimes I just wish he’d call me or his mom and we could sit in on those interviews and I could make, like, that “You’re wrong!” buzzer noise when he starts to go into areas he shouldn’t. [Makes loud buzzer noise]

What do you make of Transformers’ robot-racism controversy?
I’m sure Michael wasn’t trying to offend anyone. Kevin Dunn and I asked him about it and he said, “Well, it tested great with the kids.” I mean, those movies are tested to within an inch of their lives. I don’t know how that … the intention certainly was not to be offensive. His intention was to be antic and amusing and, I think, like, street and cool. But those of us who are older were like, “What the hell is that!?” I don’t know. But at least he didn’t kill them off. In the last movie, the one black transformer seemed to be killed really early on, making black transformers seem like the crimson in the red shirts. So these guys, they survived and they’re real heroes. I loved them in the script. And truthfully, in the movie, you can’t really hear them. And the guy who did the voice was the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants. You couldn’t know that was going to happen! I can’t be the apologist for that big, damn movie. I had nothing to do with that.

Julie White on Robot Racism in Transformers 2 and How Michael Bay Would’ve Staged Twelfth Night