Everyone has something to say about Michael Bay. Even if you don’t watch his movies, you probably have an opinion of him, and that’s not something you can say about many directors in Hollywood. But what do Michael Bay’s actual peers think about him?
GQ gathered together dozens of quotes from friends, family, and fellow filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Will Smith, George Lucas, James Cameron, and Shia LaBeouf to pool together a highly amusing portrait of the bombastic director.
We have in turn pulled out some of our favorites below and separated them into categories:
Praise for Bayhem
Gabrielle Union: You know when people talk about the very first time they did drugs? Being in a Michael Bay movie was like my drug. It’s like I’m chasing the dragon—I’ve been chasing that experience ever since.
Will Smith: My first impression of Michael was that he was like…you know how at the go-kart races, there’s always one kid who’s got real wheels on his go-kart and everybody else got the plastic baby wheels? That one kid who always had it elevated? That was Michael. I think he had just done the Meat Loaf video—this guy had a plane crash in a music video. I was like, Damn.
Robert Consing (Visual consultant on Pearl Harbor): One day, I was on the way to meeting with Michael on a battleship at Ford Island. Complete Bayhem. I passed a squadron of Zeros chasing two P-40 fighter planes forty feet above the deck, guns blazing, followed by the camera ship. Then watched fireballs exploding on a nearby frigate as burning stuntmen leaped into the water. Then saw another Zero come around and buzz our battleship as Cuba Gooding Jr. fired back with a .50 caliber fifteen feet over my head. It wasn’t even 10 a.m.
Steven Spielberg: I couldn’t think of a better director to turn a truck into a robot and make us believe it was really happening.
George Lucas: Michael’s films are immediately identifiable.
Jeanine Basinger (Bay’s film professor, Wesleyan University): I always tell my husband, “My tombstone is going to say, ‘She taught Michael Bay.’ “
Shia LaBeouf: Mike is a vulnerable guy. He’s the guy who laughs at a joke, then asks you why it’s funny.
Shia LaBeouf: He’s not at all this alpha male, this machismo legend s**t—he’s not any of these things. You know what he is? New York. If you can make it on a Bay set, you can make it on any set.
Yep, That Makes Total Sense
Brad Fuller (producing partner): The first time I saw Michael on a bigger set, he was doing a video, and there was the hottest blonde girl I’ve ever seen in my life, and she’s got a wind machine on her. She’s dancing, she looks hot, she’s wearing a short skirt. He’s shooting her from a low angle. And he looked at a few of us, and there was this look in his eyes, like he had reached nirvana. It was childlike wonderment.
Roger Barton (editor): My wife tries to limit my outings with him.
Michael Bay: Some nights I sleep like a baby. Other nights it’s, Oh God, I just came up with a bomb shot.
Scarlett Johansson: I ran into him leaving a party once and asked him if I could be the Easy-Bake Oven Transformer. He looked at me in all seriousness and said, “There isn’t one.”
And then there’s this hilarious exchange, regarding a particularly nasty moment between Bay and LaBeouf on the Transformers: Dark of the Moon set.
Michael Bay: She sent me a text three months ago. She said “I hope you’re doing well.” I responded, “Who is this?” She goes, “Megan, you dork!” I said, “Oh, well, thank you, hope you’re well.” When you’re days and months on a set, it’s like a family. You say rude things and you make up. Like, we were shooting a scene in front of the space shuttle and Shia called me a “c**ksucker.”
Shia LaBeouf: Sometimes to make [a scene] real for me, I need to mindf**k myself. And part of that is having a speaker on set with an iPod plugged in so I can conjure emotions. And some of the songs that I like to play, Mike’s not going to have it.
Michael Bay: So Shia’s gonna do his emotional scene. He gets out of his car and says, “Michael, you’re gonna start with me first.” And I said, “No, we’re gonna start this way. This is a space shuttle! The United States of America! The last one to be launched!”
Shia LaBeouf: So I’m playing my song and he finally says to me, “No, we’re not going to play that song.” And he puts on some orchestral Batman soundtrack s**t. Not for me, you know?
Michael Bay: Then he called me a “c**ksucker.” But I knew that he had just broken up with his girlfriend. So I didn’t go after him. I just said, “That’s rude. Don’t call me that.”
Head over to GQ for more hilarious quotes about Michael Bay. Also, did you know Bay directed the original Got Milk? commercial?
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