Published on June 21st, 2008 | by gareth0
Mark Ryan Talks Transformers
Recently I got the chance to speak with the versatile and talented Mark Ryan about his work on “Transformers” as well as his acting career and working with Michael Bay and Shia LaBeouf. I want to thank Mark for taking the time to answer our questions.
GVK: You have a very strong background in musicals. Where did you do your training and how did you come to get into acting?
MR: I had a singing teacher in Doncaster, and went to school in London. I was involved with many musical with my teacher and carried on from there as part of my schooling. My father was also a singer in the social clubs in Northern England and I got involved in that and toured the U.K.
GVK: What can you tell the readers about your comedy background and touring with Eric Idle of Monty Python?
MR: I had done some work on “Frasier” and I got this call out of the blue. I went in and met Eric and he looked at me, and said, “You’re from Yorkshire”. I said yes, and he said you can do the Yorkshire men scene.
We got along like a house on fire doing the Idle Exploits Monty Python tour and it was an amazing experience, we played Carnegie hall and I am proud to say that I am one of only two men to wear a green, sparkly dress at the hall.
GVK: How did you come to be a sword trainer, as I assume you had weapons training as part of your theater work?
MR: Yes, mostly from theater as well as my work on Robin of Sherwood. I also worked with Michael Jay who is an expert on English/Japanese sword work.
I always thought of it as a dramatic scene where the sword or weapon is the dialogue. Since I had been through the process, I understand how it is to train actors to work with weapons.
GVK: How did you get involved with “Transformers”?
MR: I have done 10 years in theater, some have said I have had a varied career, and I look at it as a shotgun blast of creativity. I got a call, it was all very secret and I was not even sure what I was reading for. I was not to learn the lines given to me, simply come in and read them. Since I did not know the project, you have to come in with your take and hope your personality and talent are right for the job.
I actually read 5 characters doing the same scene at different times.
GVK: What sort of prep work did you do once you had landed the part?
MR: I did not see the television show when it aired in the U.K. as I was doing a lot of acting at the time so I came into it very fresh. I went online, did research, and talked to friends and fans of the show to get a take on the characters.
GVK: You were the onset voice for the characters during filming, what was that like and was it difficult acting against virtual elements?
MR: It was a lot of fun; I fed lines to Shia who was acting against giant poles with lights on them. Shia is very funny and spontaneous, and is actually very good at what he does as Michael would explain the scenes to us, and we had to imagine that the poles were gigantic robots, and make sure to really allow the characters to come through.
GVK: During the studio process of recording the voices, was Michael Bay present?
MR: He was there every day; often he was the only person there. It was the most fun I had, as during post production, Michael would shoo people from the studio so we could get the lines down. Michael likes to have fun and he has a very cheeky, child like humor to him. He would say a line and then ask me to say it like he just did, only to make it funny.
GVK: Did you see a complete script while filming or did you just have your lines?
MR: The script on set changed a lot. One day I noted some new lines in, and thought that it would change the plot in a dramatic way. Michael was very guarded on the project as they had a computer hacked and someone got a copy of the script as well as some of the graphics for the film.
GVK: Since you did all the voices on set, how did you end up being Bumblebee?
MR: I got a call saying I was doing the Bumblebee character, and I said I do not believe I have done the lines for that. Since I had recorded many voices and lines in studio, they played me back a recording and sure enough, it was me doing the lines that came to be Bumblebee. When I had read them, they were not assigned as lines to Bumblebee, and since I had not read that he had his speech restored in the script, it was a pleasant surprise.
GVK: Did you get to work with Stephen Spielberg at all?
MR: No, I would have liked to, but I think Stephen is a very smart director. When I was doing King Arthur, I saw Jerry (Bruckheimer) twice. Stephen is very wise in that he has hired a good Director and lets him do the job that he was hired to do, without interfering with his work. Michael was very good and really did very well with the film.
GVK: What were your thoughts about Bumblebee being a Camaro over a Volkswagen?
MR: Having not seen the original show when it first ran, I did not have an emotional connection to him being a Volkswagen. When I saw the Camaro shot though, I said “that isn’t Herbie that is one sexy beast”.
GVK: You also do all the voices in the video game, what was that like and did you use lines from the film or all new lines?
MR: I had a lot of fun with Iron Hide, and some of the other odd voices. We had a mix of lines as well, old and new.
GVK: Final question, have you heard anything about a sequel or been asked to be a part of future films?
MR: (Chuckles), funny you should say that so I will tell you what I can. I recently recorded more material for the DVD release of the film. It has to do with the Prequel that will set up the second film.
GVK: Thank you.