Interview: Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor on ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’

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CHICAGO – Among the Transforming machines in the fourth installment of the “Transformers” series are human actors, poised to react to the giant robot madness around them. Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor are newcomers to the series, and both are making major franchise film debuts in “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Peltz portrays Tessa Yeager, the daughter of Cade Yeager (Mark Walhberg), and they are both allied with the good-guy Transformer Autobots, who are the target of a government takedown. Jack Reynor is Shane Dyson, the secret boyfriend of Tessa, who also happens to be a expert race car driver, which is really handy when escaping both the emerging enemy Transformers and the government.

Nicola Peltz is also familiar to fans of “Bates Motel” on the A&E Network, portraying Bradley Martin. She was also seen in “Deck the Halls” (2006) and “The Last Airbender” (2010), and will have a role in the upcoming – and intriguingly titled “Affluenza.” (2014). Irish born Jack Reynor is moving up the movie role ladder after an appearance last year in “Delivery Man.” He first made waves in the title role of an independent film entitled “What Richard Did” (2012) and has three more films slated for 2014 and ’15.

Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor
Mark Wahlberg, Nicola Peltz, and Jack Reynor in ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures

Before they become more familiar to millions of moviegoers this weekend, Nicola Peltz and Jack Reynor talked to via phone, to lend perspective on the filmmaking odyssey of the Transformers series. For both of you, what tips can you give regarding how to react to giant robots that are going to be added into your movie later. Did you watch a lot of Japanese Godzilla movies from the 1950s, or is Michael Bay giving you direction on that?

Jack Reynor: As an actor, no matter what – whether it’s a Hollywood franchise, television or independent film – your job is the suspend your disbelief and draw on your imagination and emotions, to make some real and tangible for yourself. The Transformers series is an extension of that, and as you can imagine it’s rather intimidating, especially in the first week or two. Then when you’re selling it, and you realize they’re not going to throw you off the set, you grow in your confidence and it’s easier from there.

Nicola Peltz: I actually thought there was going to be more ‘green screen’ than there was – all the car chases and explosions are actually done on set. When you’re talking to the actual Transformers, obviously it’s more of a challenge. It’s a lot of fun to use your imagination, and the director Michael Bay and Mark Wahlberg was always reminding Jack and I to let go, and go for it. Nicola, you portray Mark Wahlberg’s daughter in the film, and Jack you are Nicola’s boyfriend. So what can you tell us about Mr. Wahlberg that the rest of the world doesn’t know?

Peltz: He’s really good at checkers.

Reynor: That’s says all you need to know about Mr. Wahlberg. [laughs] Give me an idea of your audition process for a big time, big budget film like this…how do you hear about it and how do you get hooked into the process?

Peltz: It was a long process, actually. I auditioned for the casting director, who was lovely. I got called back to screen test with Jack, and met Michael for the first time, At that point, we got actual scripts to read from, and I got the part a few weeks later. You both got to shoot in Chicago for six weeks. Give me your best story about your time in the city, either on set or partying down.

Peltz: Chicago is really beautiful, it reminds me of a smaller and cleaner New York City. I was there with my Mom, and when we filmed a lot of people came to watch us, which was fun to get support. Everyone is so nice there, hello Chicago!

Reynor: One scene that was fun to shoot is when we blew up a Bud Light truck in the middle of the city, and it was a weird experience because I watched it happen from the window of a 7-11 store. I couldn’t see any of the crew from there, so it looked to me like a Bud Light truck just blew up. It was pretty crazy. Michael Bay has both a varied and mysterious reputation in Hollywood. Again, what is something about him that you both discovered that you didn’t expect?

Reynor: He has more energy than anyone I’ve ever met in my life. He takes on the responsibility of a huge crew and manages them everyday, not to mention a budget that is in the hundreds of million dollars. He also works from Day One of the project to the night before the premiere, and he is revered for the way he does it all. I have a huge amount of respect for him, and I’m lucky enough to call him a friend.

Peltz: His energy is infectious. His passion for these films are right there, and you feel that on the set. I really look up to him and was very happy to get the opportunity to work with him.

Nicola Peltz
Distress: Nicola Peltz in ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’
Photo credit: Paramount Pictures With each subsequent movie set up your show business ladder. there are elements of the business that you are learning. What were your lessons from the Transformers set?

Reynor: For me, it was going from an independent film to a huge franchise. It was about a commitment of 100 percent, and not being afraid of the challenge. I wasn’t afraid to fail as well, and that was it for me.

Peltz: I was a huge fan going into the film regarding how Michael brings these films to life, so I was so excited to be a part of it. And I get to go on the road to promote the movie, so it’s new experiences all around. Nicola, one of your upcoming films is ‘Affluenza,’ and your biography indicates that you grew up in relative wealth. How did art imitate life in that film for you?

Peltz: I chose this character because I found something interesting about her, and I want to play characters that are different from me. I’m very different from the character I play in ‘Affluenza,’ she is not close to her family, she’s really unhappy and is a broken person. So to stretch myself towards her was a lot of fun. Jack, tell me about your first major lead, ‘What Richard Did.’ How was exploring your native Irish roots, and understanding the culture of that film?

Reynor: ‘Richard’ was a very important film for me, it’s very close to my heart. It’s a film about the pressures of being a young man growing up, and it’s a very relatable film. It did very well internationally, because it is so universally themed, and so many people were able to identify the feelings of pressure and how it can wind you up to the point in which you really break. Essentially I wanted to make the character as empathetic as possible, and someone that people would have sympathy for, despite what he ‘did.’ It was a beautiful experience to make that film in my own country and my own territory. I’m very proud of it. If both of you were Transformers, what would be your robot name and what would you transform from or to?

Reynor: I’d call myself Paddy and I’d turn into a pint of Guinness. [laughs]

Peltz: I would turn into a big elephant, and I would call myself Lola.

“Transformers: Age of Extinction” opens everywhere on June 27th in 3D, IMAX and regular screenings. See local listings for theaters and show times. Featuring Nicola Peltz, Jack Reynor, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Kelsey Grammer and T.J. Miller. Written by Ehren Kruger. Directed by Michael Bay. Rated “PG-13” senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Senior Staff Writer

© 2014 Patrick McDonald,

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