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The July 4th blockbuster movie slot has belonged to actor Will Smith for some time now, but watch out Will, there’s a new brotha on the Independence Day horizon and he’s a familiar face to many in Los Angeles. His name: Tyrese Gibson. These days, he’s known simply as Tyrese.
The gorgeous singer turned actor who grew up in Watts and graduated from Locke High School, seems destined for superstardom. I mean leading man status in Hollywood. Many in South Central watched him win various talent shows singing around town and then go on to star in “Coke’ commercials, model for Tommy Hilfiger, sell millions of CDs and now take major roles in movies with $150 million budgets.
Making it big is one thing; making it big in your own backyard - the movie capital of the world - is something else. Tyrese still can’t believe he has scored what many are calling the biggest movie of the summer: Director Michael Bay and Producer Steven Spielberg’s ‘Transformers.’
“I’m happy. I’m excited and fired up. I’m just happy to be a part of it,” said Tyrese. “I saw the movie the first time the other day full on and I got so emotional. It’s one of the situations where after you see it all put together, you feel very lucky, blessed, fortunate to be a part of something this big. It’s so big; I can’t believe I’m a part of it.”
So emotional was Tyrese, he drove home from the initial screening leaving his co-stars behind to truly take in the moment. “I just jumped in my car and drove off,” said the 28-year old sexy singer. “I’m a grown man I didn’t want anyone to see me cry. I just sat there praying and crying. It was like a lot to take in at one time.”
‘Transformers’ is the eighth feature film for Tyrese, but unlike the others; the director, Michael Bay, had Tyrese in mind for the role long before he was cast so he didn’t have to audition for the part. “I never really thought about that,” Tyrese told the Los Angeles Sentinel. “Michael simply called and said I got an action movie for you and I said let’s do it. When Michael Bay calls you know it’s big and you know he’s gonna blow up a lot of stuff and on a personal level, Michael and I have good energy.”
In the film, which is based on the 80’s toy craze, “Transformers,” where giant talking robots morph into talking cars, trucks, planes and ships, Tyrese plays USAF Master Sgt. Epps who’s stationed in Iraq - that’s until their operation comes under attack from the evil Decepticons, the robotic aliens who have waged war with the Autobots - the good robotic aliens for years. With the universe at stake, the battle between the Autobots and the Decepticons comes to earth. Caught in between, a true cast of characters including the kid who holds the key to mankind’s last chance of survival; young Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf).
Tyrese plays it super cool and super tough in this film as a highly trained military man in the fight of his life against the Decepticons, but the fact is he’s also in great company. His co-stars include LeBeouf, the new Indiana Jones 4 kid, John Voight, Bernie Mac, Anthony Anderson, Megan Fox, Rachael Taylor and John Turturro. Together, they must save the world.
To prepare for the role, Tyrese actually spent time with an actual Air Force Combat Controller who was on leave after a tour in Iraq. He also had to go through basic training in the blazing sun in 120 degree heat while fighting the flu. ‘I went home drained every night, but it was one of the best moments of my life and I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.” As for filming in the desert heat, Director Michael Bay had another problem with his co-star. “I kept having to tell him, “Tyrese keep your clothes on.”
The film takes you back to the time when the Hasbro Toy Company developed a line of giant robots called “Transformers.” The craze for the combination automobiles and robots affectionately called autobots transformed the world. Every kid in America and even in the world went nuts for the Transformers. The popular toys drew so much attention they were given their own cartoon show on TV.
“I remember playing with these action figures as a little boy and watching them on TV,” recalled Tyrese who couldn’t seem to stop tinkering with a special promotional Transformer toy during our interview. “My favorite was the wise and powerful autobot “Optimus Prime,” he said. “Who would have thought a cartoon you loved as a kid would end up being such a milestone in your life as a grown man? It’s crazy how things happen.”
The cars clearly are the stars in the film too! “Yeah, I wanted to hunt down one of those GM guys and say, hey how about giving me “Bumblebee” the yellow Camaro Transformer. I love that car.” And for die-hard fans who are unhappy with some of the film’s changes especially from the original cartoon,” Get over it!” he said. “I mean, I love Bumblebee, but come on, it’s a much sexier car now.”
Now - here’s a guy who knows a thing or two about sexy. Call him Tyrese Transformed because it’s amazing to see how his career will skyrocket after this movie. Already, his agent, Charles David King of William Morris has a slew of movies on his desk. Mr. Tyrese Gibson is in demand.
Between the music and film business, it appears the young kid from Watts is set, but Tyrese wants to do more and wants to do better; improving his acting chops in every flick. “I feel like I was born to do this,” he said “So, I want to get it right every time.”
No doubt, Tyrese, Shia LeBeouf, the writers, producer and director Michael Bay got this one right. First off, the film is entertaining with great funny lines throughout. All the female characters are strong and intelligent; the “Transformers” look colorful, super hip and cool, not to mention they kick butt. You’ll actually stand up and cheer for them. This movie will also make you want to see more of Tyrese on the big screen.
As for taking over Big Willie Weekend - the coveted Independence Day spot, Tyrese chooses to play it safe. “Well, I don’t know about that. It would be cool to have a movie coming out next Fourth of July and every year after that, we’ll see.”
Tyrese, many of your fans are counting on it.