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Roberto Orci on Transformers

Published June 27, 2007 in Movie Interviews
By Fred Topel | Image property of Paramount.
Transformers Transformers
Remember when Steven Spielberg used to produce movies that felt like Steven Spielberg movies even though he didn't direct them? Back to the Future, The Goonies and Gremlins, those were all part of his Amblin' label. Though he traded up for Dreamworks SKG, his latest hires wanted to bring back the former glory. Transformers screenwriter Roberto Orci envisioned a Spielberg film, even though Michael Bay was directing.

Transformers from the Mind of Roberto Orci

"This is something we'd been wanting to talk to him [about] forever," recalled Orci. "We love the old Amblin days. The movies that I saw when I was targeted for this age group, when I was between 11 and 15, Back to the Future, E.T., all those kinds of things. So we had literally a conversation about trying to bring back the old Amblin ethic. In a way, this movie was primarily written for what we wanted to see, what we thought Spielberg would want to see and what we though Michael Bay would want to see, hoping that if we succeed in all three that then the audience would want to see it. It's very much a mix of Spielberg/Amblin in a way and Bay/modern day action. That's kind of where it ended up."

Writing the action scenes went as detailed as describing the planes that crash into the buildings. Post-9/11, trashing any city is sensitive, so Orci and partner Alex Kurtzman took that into consideration. "The minute you have anyone trashing a city, you're there. It's part of why we chose LA because I think people don’t care if anyone in LA gets whacked. But as we were saying, it was also part of the complicated or the slightly hopefully nuanced for a giant toy movie aspect of how the military was reacting. Yes, it crosses our mind and it was obviously open for discussion if it had been nixed."

Transformers also boasts detailed comedic scenes. "That was fun but it was also hard. It was the icing on the cake. Everything else had to be sort of in place before we could kind of get to that moment. We had to make sure that the structure of the movie was a solid paradigm that you could hit with a hammer and it wouldn't fall apart before we fully committed to what the humor could be. But it was always implicit in the process. It had to be fun."

Keeping the movie fun without being ridiculous was the screenwriter's biggest struggle. "The hardest balance actually was tone. Honestly, people are going to come at this thing. It's a cartoon, it's a toy line, it's for kids. It's not a movie. One of the ethics was trying to make it as realistic as possible. And yes, it's Transformers and there's a long history of fun in it so it all had to be fun. Those two, realism and fun, are complete opposites so the hardest part was walking the line in tone."

Transformers opens to theaters on July 2nd.

For the trailers, clips, posters, stills and movie info, go to the Transformers Movie Page.

Stay tuned for updates.

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Compiled By (Sources)
Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of Paramount.

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