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Transformers: The Last Knight – Sir Anthony Hopkins & Mark Wahlberg

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Sir Anthony Hopkins & Mark Wahlberg

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Director Michael Bay’s love affair with the Transformers has now spanned five movies over a decade. The franchise has changed a lot from the film that sparked it all off in 2007 – a film that virtually discovered the likes of Shia LaBeouf and Megan Fox while lending television star Josh Duhamel a vehicle on the big screen.

From there, the franchise has just grown and grown to introduce a legion of new fans to the Transformers. To make sure that the series didn’t get stale, Bay reinvented everything with 2014’s Transformers: Age Of Extinction, which saw the universe suddenly focus on new characters: including the character of family man and inventor, Cade Yeager, played by Hollywood superstar Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg now returns in Transformers: The Last Knight, and joining him is another A-Lister: none other than Sir Anthony Hopkins.

Known as an actor who is always keen to take on new challenges, Wahlberg says he was pleasantly surprised when Michael Bay let him know that it is a whole new universe that Cade finds himself in this time around. “This is a whole new adventure for Cade,” he says smiling. “For me, this was about doing something different. I didn’t want to do the same thing. Once he (Michael Bay) sat me down, and I read his script in his office, I got excited because it is a whole new world and a whole new universe, and I was excited. I think it is amazing the world that Michael has created, and how believable and realistic it is. He continues to make these movies bigger and better, and with this film, he has found an interesting way to develop more of an origins story but is also a way to introduce and create new characters. When you see Cade this time he has some big things going on, he has made some big sacrifices in his life. He has decided to go off on his own to save his daughter and allow her to blend back into society. So she is off at school, and I am running around on my own.”

Wahlberg is also quick to admit that part of what made working on this film so special was getting the chance to work with Hopkins. “He is a legend,” Wahlberg says, sitting back in his chair. “But what was great about it is that he was super prepared – he was having the time of his life – and he is such a sweetheart of a guy. He is always willing to try stuff, and that was fun because you never really know what it is going to be like with guys like that. You never know whether they will take themselves too seriously or not, but it was a blast… it was an absolute blast getting to work with him. And again, when you have those kinds of talents it does help to elevate the material as well.”

It is surprising to learn that as Hopkins talks about the film, he is just as excited as Wahlberg. To hear an Oscar-winning actor who has appeared in classic masterpieces like Silence Of The Lambs and The Elephant Man say he was excited to work on an action film seems a little strange, but Hopkins quickly explains what he means. “It’s exciting because it is Michael Bay,” he explains. “You have to know your stuff, and there is no waste of time – Michael is great at that, and I love that. You just have to get on with it; no thinking about it, no analysing it: just shoot it, and I think that is the best way to work. That’s my nature, anyway – just get on with it not wasting time. My agent rang me one day and just said, ‘Do you want to work with Michael Bay?’ I said, ‘Yeah’.”

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“I had met him once briefly at an Oscar thing, you know. I’d heard about his reputation – that he was fast and furious. So I said, ‘Yeah, I would love to work with him’, and we met up. We had breakfast at a hotel, and he gave me part of the script, or maybe it was the outline, and I said, ‘Yeah, I’m game for it.’ He told me all about the sets and everything, and he said, ‘Do you wanna do it?’ and I said ‘Yeah’ and he said, ‘Well, we are writing it now’ and I said ‘Well, send it to me when it’s done’ and he did, and it was perfect.”

“These movies are just pure escapism,” says Hopkins when asked to describe the Transformers movies. “And all that genius that happens with the post-work that those computer whiz kids do… I don’t know what they do… I don’t understand it at all; it is a world way beyond me. I am amazed that they can do all of that kind of stuff. And it is improving all the time! There is a whole new reality, and I don’t understand any of it, but also don’t need to. But it’s fun when you watch it. You know, when I saw that scene of Mark walking across the huge… you know what I mean… it was magic… sheer magic. Magic and genius!”

Of course, getting a chance to work with Michael Bay means that there will be a lot of stunts to try, and even at 79 years of age, Hopkins was not spared. “Michael and I got on so well that he could see that I was game for anything,” he says. “And he would say ‘Do you want to try that?’ and I’d say ‘I’ll try that’ and then he would say, ‘Do you mind trying it at 80 miles per hour in a car?’ and I said, ‘Would I be driving?’ And he said, ‘No’. And you know what? Doing stunts like that, I am game for anything. It was at the end of the Mall in London… right outside Buckingham Palace. It is this vast stretch of straight road, it’s where they have the Coronation and all those parades, and there are those arches at the end, and they aren’t that wide. We had to drive through there at eighty miles an hour, and there was a stunt driver – an American, and he was brilliant. He kept saying to me, ‘Are you ready, are you ready?’ and I was like, ‘Yeah. I’m ready for anything. GO. BOOM.’ No, I love all of that, you’re risking things, but I love it. You have to do that in life – take risks. You’ve to be strong and go for it. That’s what I like about Mark Wahlberg and Michael Bay, they don’t waste time.”

Hopkins was also impressed with how many British landmarks that also had the opportunity to shoot in. “There was Buckingham Palace – the Mall,” he says, listing them on his hands. “We went to Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s residence. You never get into there, but we got into there because Mr Bay has his way of getting into somewhere when he says: ‘I want this.’ That’s all okay. Then there were various castles, two major castles I can’t remember the names of – ancient castles. Then we were at Oxford University, a college… all over the place.”

Transformers: The Last Knight is in cinemas.

Written by David Griffiths


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