In her quick rise to fame, Megan Fox has been notably savvy in the celebrity arts. At the end of 2009, the New York Times dubbed her a “devoted student of stardom, past and present” who “talked her way into the limelight.” After all, the starlet utters virile poetry, bragging she has the “libido of a 15-year-old boy” or proclaiming “[actress] Olivia Wilde is so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands” — lines that were often better than her scripted ones.
But critical drubbings tarnished her glow in 2010, even as they upped her buzz.
The starlet vs. the auteur
The year started with the artistic tussle between her and “Transformers” director Michael Bay. Anonymous crew members posted a defense on the action auteur’s site, branding the femme as “dumb-as-a-rock Megan Fox.” An apology from Bay came shortly, but it took another few months before Fox backed out of the third installment.
While the Bay camp claimed she had been “axed,” the actress once again cited Bay’s notorious temper. While her earlier comparisons to dictators might have sounded histrionic, industry insiders did note the director had “a history of demeaning his leading ladies.” In any case, they didn’t do much for each other: Both got Razzie awards.
Panned but scanned
The box-office thud of “Jonah Hex” made a dismal follow-up to the panned “Jennifer’s Body” (2009). Even her thumbs came under scrutiny, as rumors (and resulting lookups) of a double for a Super Bowl ad brought attention to her wide right thumb, a condition known by the prehistoric-sounding name brachydactyly.
Fox had revelations further up her sleeve: her modesty (well, in Hollywood terms), a Funny or Die video supporting California teachers, her obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the Eminem video for “Love the Way You Lie,” and Hawaiian wedded bliss with former “Beverly Hills 90210” actor Brian Austin Green.
Wait, OCD? Could that be true? Actually, Fox copped to dropping quips and sometimes outright lying to a celebrity press that takes her every utterance a wee bit too seriously. In an Interview magazine chat with Zach Galifianakis, she said, “Almost everything I say, no matter how innocent my intentions are, seems to get sort of manipulated and sensationalized and turned into some ridiculous news story.”
But at 24, a “sly” Fox may have tired of the game: “I have said some things to throw people off the scent of what’s really going on in my life. So I have sort of aided the media in printing these misconceptions, which I regret.”
What she didn’t do
As for her work product, the verdict may still be out on the so-called transforming starlet. She knew to keep herself in good company: Her movie “Passion Play” co-starred Mickey Rourke and Bill Murray, but the story of a musician who falls for a carnival act didn’t receive a warm reception. Her next project may have promise: “Friends With Kids” puts her with co-stars Jon Hamm and Kristen Wiig.
Still, Fox may be best known in 2010 for what she didn’t do: take part in the “Transformers” third installment. Then again, she didn’t have to deal with the free-flowing derision about the movie’s title. Said one E Online blogger, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” sounded “even worse than just calling it ‘the one without Megan Fox.'” And not as buzzy either.
–Vera H-C Chan