Michael Bay was running so late for interviews promoting his clone-theed actioner The Island, that he didn’t even make most of his group interviews. “I just finished the film two days ago”, Bay says, apologetically. While some who work with him, actors and crew alike, refer to him as both energetic and tactless, even brash, Bay prefers to use the adjective ‘blunt’ but insists that perceived temperament is not taken so seriously by those who know him.
“Well a lot of times it’s done for humour, and a lot of the crew that’s worked with me understand that I’ll tease people and give them a hard time, jokingly – you know, take the piss out of people.” But Bay also sees himself as a passionate director. “You could say I’m kind of like a fireball on the set, which is how I get my creativity. I like to shoot fast and I care very much about actors, even though I’m brash,” he adds, laughingly.
The director, known for his loud action flicks such as Bad Boys, The Rock and Armageddon, opted for a change of pace with The Island, that manages to go almost 45 minutes without an explosion, and Bay said he revelled at his self-control. “I was biting my tongue like ‘God! I hope it works. I hope it works’. Cause I didn’t know if this place would be cool or just ridiculous. I shot the movie so out of order – I shot the ending and then the beginning and just flipped it. But I really like the slow reveal which was very attractive as well as the idea and concept behind the movie.”
Set in the mid-21st century, the film’s central character is Lincoln Six-Echo (Ewan McGregor), a resident of a seemingly utopian but contained facility. Like all of the inhabitants of this carefully controlled environment, Lincoln hopes to be chosen to go to the “The Island” – reportedly the last uncontaminated spot on the planet. But Lincoln soon discovers that everything about his existence is a lie. He and all of the other inhabitants of the facility are actually human clones whose only purpose is to provide spare parts” for their original human counterparts. Realizing it is only a matter of time before he is “harvested,” Lincoln makes a daring escape with a beautiful fellow resident named Jordan Two-Delta (Scarlett Johansson). Relentlessly pursued by the forces of the sinister institute that once housed them, Lincoln and Jordan engage in a race for their lives to literally meet their makers.
Though most of the film is an adrenalin-charged chase movie in true Bay tradition, the first act takes on unusually elaborate sci-fi proportions. In trying to maintain a ‘realistic’ view of a technological future without going to extremes, Bay did some additional research. “I went to Microsoft, met with a think-tank and that was quite interesting. ” Originally set 100 years in the future, Bay decided to change it to 15 years, “because I realised you couldn’t really identify with the movie if it was set to far out. It’s much scarier if it’s really closer to now.”
Different from a typical Michael Bay summer movie, the director said this time around, he really wanted to focus more on script and story. “I mean, you want to grow each time you go out and I think it’s great how I really held back and not like slam-bam, thank you, ma’am, as I normally do.” While the trades have Bay about to start the new Transformers movie for DreamWorks, Bay is not so sure that’s necessarily his next film. “I’ve got this black comedy that’s just actors acting, that is set up at Paramount.” He thinks he’ll shoot that well before he takes on, what he describes as “this Transformers thing that we’re developing.”