Whether you speak to casual cinemagoers or outright diehard robots-in-disguise fans, it doesn’t matter: opinions on the live-action Transformers films are always decidedly mixed, at best.
Some love the OTT bombastic “Bayhem” of the big-screen flicks, whereas others find them chaotic, tiresome and unrecognisable as the franchise they otherwise enjoy. Still, whatever your take, there’s one thing we can all agree on: the incredible line-up of acting talent the series has commanded since it began in 2007.
In fact, some of the names you see on-screen (and some you hear from behind it) might still surprise you. Here are 10 actors we’re still amazed to find were part of the Transformers franchise, ranked from least to most astonishing…
Be sure to check out part 1 first before continuing below!
#5: Buzz Aldrin
OK, full disclosure: the term “actor” might be somewhat liberally applied in this case. That said, despite being most well-known as one of the first two people to ever walk on the moon, Buzz Aldrin has gone on to make regular TV and film appearances, although essentially always as “himself” (or at least a parodied version thereof), including the likes of The Simpsons, Futurama, The Big Bang Theory and even Da Ali G Show. Even so, it was a major surprise to see him pop up in the latest big-screen Transformers caper, even if the storyline was at least partially related to the moon landing (an exclusive no-prize if you can correctly and succinctly explain how). One has to wonder if Michael Bay or anyone else in the production explained to Mr Aldrin just what the plot of the film was going to be, though. Was he aware that the script would paint the moon landing as a covert cover-up following the discovery of a crashlanded alien ship? Perhaps he was just happy to be making pleasantries with Optimus Prime, for all we know.
#4: Stanley Tucci
It’s unlikely that anyone has ever really forgotten that Stanley Tucci has starred in a Transformers film. After all, he did look pretty memorable sipping on that milk in Age of Extinction, right? Yet can you believe that he’s actually been in *two* of these things? Two separate movies? As two different characters? Yes, not content with already portraying Joshua Joyce, a tech guru attempting to create a race of manufactured transforming robots, he popped back again for The Last Knight in a relatively brief cameo as Merlin. Because why not?
Really though, it was strange enough that he was even in the franchise to begin with, considering his Oscar-nominated pedigree. Though no stranger to blockbusters such as The Hunger Games or Captain America: The First Avenger, Tucci is also more well-known for performances in films such as Spotlight, Road to Perdition, Supernova or The Lovely Bones. Oh, and The Devil Wears Prada. He was quite compelling at sipping on that milk, though.
#3: John Malkovich
John Malkovich has a list of film awards and nominations longer than many actors’ entire CVs. He’s been pipped for two Oscars. He has a British Academy Film Award. Two Screen Actors Guild Awards. Three Golden Globe Awards. He also appeared in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Somehow though, his being in the film itself is not even the weirdest part – it’s the fact that nothing about the role has any relevance to the actual plot (and yes, there was a storyline in there somewhere, before anyone jokes otherwise). In case you need help with the details, Malkovich plays Bruce Brazos, the boss at the office where Sam Witwicky has applied for a job. This leads to a frankly bizarre interview scene and some random work-related hijinks about coloured cups that serve for nought other than to make you think the filmmakers were trying to cram in a random Michael Scott from The Office vibe for comedy reasons. Not impossible, given when this film was being made, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less perplexing to watch.
#2: Anthony Hopkins
Anthony Hopkins. ANTHONY HOPKINS. In the FIFTH Transformers film. I know, right?
Anyway, despite being one of the most recognisable, acclaimed and respected actors of all time, Sir Anthony has also never been shy about letting it be known that he will happily take a decent job for the right money. Still, at least you always get a fantastic performance from him. Perhaps that explains his turn as Sir Edmund Burton in The Last Knight, as well as the fact that he easily outclasses everything else going on around him in this case. It’s fair to say that Sir Anthony also appears to be having the time of his life, delivering lines such as, “Careful, that’s the watch that killed Hitler! Don’t screw with it!” with the kind of sincerity and enthusiasm one expects from such a pro. TLK may be utterly unfathomable in so many regards, but at the very least, he puts in an entertaining performance.
#1: Frances McDormand
Leading our list is the absolute legend that is Frances McDormand. When we talk about the incredible calibre of high-profile actors the Transformers films seem to bizarrely be able to attract, there could be no other choice for the top spot. This is a performer who has secured practically unrivalled acclaim in her career, including four Oscars, two Primetime Emmys, two Golden Globes, three British Academy Film Awards, four Screen Actors Guild Awards and one Tony Award. Her CV is essentially a list of critically-adored independent films with surprisingly few ultra-commercial departures from that, besides Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted and, yep, you guessed it, Transformers: Dark of the Moon. This is the same blockbuster that secured John Malkovich, mind, but McDormand stands out even more than the previous few entries on this list, given how typically picky she is regarding her roles. Seriously, why is she in this film?
Anyway, at least McDormand’s character, Charlotte Mearing, has some bearing on the overall storyline. As the USA’s Director of National Intelligence, she appears throughout and has quite a few scenes with actual robots, turning in more than a few memorable moments as she goes. It’s still utterly curious to watch, but that’s the Transformers films for you, I suppose.
So that’s our list! Did we miss any other great actors from the series?