After a prominent role in the series Bates Motel and the film The Last Airbender, emerging actress Nicola Peltz was cast as Tessa Yeager in Michael Bay’s upcoming Transformers: Age of Extinction. The 19-year-old blonde sheds some details regarding her part in the film and what we can come to expect from the latest installment.
1. Q. How did you get this part?
A. Well, I was shooting a TV show when I found out they were casting for this movie. I was so excited just to audition for it! So I did, and as I didn’t hear anything back for a little bit I assumed it wasn’t happening for me; but then I got a call back, met Michael Bay and even did an audition with Jack Reynor.
2. Q. What are your memories of that audition?
A. I remember it was so much fun. And then Michael called me to tell me that I got the role, which was insane! I was with my mother when I got the call, and it was just so exciting for me. I was shocked and looking forward to getting on set.
3. Q. Were you a fan of the previous Transformers movies?
A. Yes, definitely, I loved those movies! I have seven siblings, and my two younger brothers just love anything that has to do with Transformers. So, when I told them I was auditioning they were so excited for me.
4. Q. Why do you think these movies have been so successful all over the world?
A. I think it all has to do with Michael Bay, because he is such a genius. He really brings these robots to life, and you totally feel for them. To watch him work and then see what he has achieved with these movies is just mind-blowing!
5. Q. But what was it like to act opposite characters that are not really there?
A. When you have a scene with a Transformer there is a pole with a face on it, and you can feel silly as an actor; but it’s fun and you go for it. You have to use your imagination.
6. Q. But the explosions are very real!
A. Oh yes, Michael likes to blow things up…
7. Q. Who do you play in Transformers: Age of Extinction?
A. I play Tessa Yeager, who is Mark Wahlberg’s daughter in the movie. She is a tough girl and definitely responsible – to the point where I would even say that she is the true adult in the house – and she is very smart. It was fun to play the arc that she has in the film.
8. Q. In the story you have lost your mother. So, what is the relationship between your character and her dad like?
A. I love that human element of the story. There is a great father-daughter relationship, which you see come together during the story. That is my favorite aspect of the movie. I am very close with my dad in real life, and it was nice to play that with Mark.
9. Q. How is Mark Wahlberg?
A. Mark is amazing! He is obviously very talented, and I have learned so much from him. And he is such a great guy!
10. Q. There is a fun banter between your characters, which gets even funnier when he finds out that you have a boyfriend…
A. Yes, he doesn’t know that I have a boyfriend or that he is a racecar driver. So, when the character of Shane comes into the mix my father is so shocked! He is very over-protective, which is why Tessa hid that relationship from him. It’s really funny when they all get into Shane’s car and find out about each other. It was a fun dynamic to play…
11. Q. So, apart from all the action, the film also has a lot of humor.
A. Oh yes! And not just with Mark and Jack Reynor, who plays my boyfriend, but also with the characters of T. J. Miller and Stanley Tucci. Stanley is great at improvising, and I would have to literally pinch my leg to avoid laughing and ruining the scene.
12. Q. Did you improvise a lot?
A. I did, which was so much fun. We had a great script, but then we would also banter back and forth. And some of those takes ended up being Michael’s favorites!
13. Q. And what can you say of Jack Reynor?
A. Jack is so much fun! It was very nice to have him there next to me, as we were both kind of learning the way together.
14. Q. What is Michael Bay like on set?
A. Michael has so much energy. He has to control all the cast and crew, and he gives 110% all the time. And he moves so quickly! What he gets done in a day is insane, because other filmmakers would probably take a week. So, it blows my mind how fast he is, and we just try to keep up with him. Michael is like a kid: he likes cars and blowing things up.
15. Q. Speaking of blowing things up, can you talk about any big explosion that you were involved in?
A. Oh yes, there was this huge one I’ll never forget. 10 minutes before the explosion Michael told us what we were going to do, which was to run from one place to another in 4.6 seconds. In these big action sequences – where you only have one take – your adrenaline takes over and you just go. And we could feel the heat on our backs, so we ran! It was crazy and fun.
16. Q. How did you prepare for the role?
A. Jack and I went through boot camp for a month before we started filming. We were in the gym 8 hours a day, but I’m really happy we did that because it prepared us for all the running and jumping we would have to do.
17. Q. And you did most of the stunts yourself, right?
A. Yes, because Michael likes to put you in as much as possible to make it more real. And I love it, because I’m always down to trying things. It’s fun!
18. Q. What was the energy like on set then?
A. There was never a dull moment on set; but I’m used to it because my house is never calm either, as we are such a big family.
19. Q. So, your boyfriend in the film is a racecar driver; but are you a good driver in real life?
A. I’m a terrible driver! Thank God I didn’t have to do it in the movie…
20. Q. What should we expect from this movie?
A. Transformers: Age of Extinction is a huge production that also has these intimate moments people can relate to, like the story of an over-protective dad that is scared of losing his daughter. The action sequences are so much fun and amazing to watch, but the movie also has a beautiful human element to it.