Megan Fox is a fox. And not just in the way you might think if youve seen her in a tiny bikini in a mens magazine or leaning over the hood of a 76 Camaro in Transformers. Yes, Fox is beautiful and often scantily clad, but dozens of beautiful girls arrive in Hollywood every day who are more than happy to pose nearly naked. Unlike them, Fox has a quality that sets her apart: Fox is sly. Canny. A devoted student of stardom, past and present, she knows how to provide her own colour commentary — a narrative to go with the underwear.
In the age of the 24-hour news cycle, Fox has supplied a seemingly endless stream of tantalising quotes. She has detailed her fling with a stripper named Nikita; compared Michael Bay, the director of Transformers, to Hitler; and revealed she has her boyfriends name tattooed next to my pie.
Fox has a provocative way of describing any situation: her girl-on-girl kiss in her latest film, Jennifers Body, is like crazy kiddie porn; Disneys High School Musical is about paedophilia (if you watch it, as she did, after getting high); and the reigning heartthrob Robert Pattinson is too young and too pretty to be sexually compelling. I would eat Robert Pattinson, she said.
None of these comments were accidental. All of them made the Hollywood press, especially on the Internet, swoon. Some of Foxs comments may have been fiction (sadly, there was no Nikita), but most seemed startlingly honest and entirely quotable. Fox, who is 23, understood instinctively that noise plus naked equals celebrity. And after having appeared only in Transformers I and II, in which the true stars were giant robots, she created a rebellious, frankly sexual persona and talked her way into the limelight.
The only problem is, having come so far so fast, how do you stay this years girl when the year is almost over?
ITS OK TO BE DIFFERENT
This question seemed to be on Foxs mind when I met her one morning in late September at the Four Seasons Hotel in Manhattan. She lives in Los Angeles but was in New York to host Saturday Night Live, and she answered the door of her hotel room dressed in black leggings, a low-cut tank top under a grey, loose-fitting long cardigan and large, rectangular glasses, which gave her a kind of sexy librarian look that vividly contrasted with her pin-up image.
Fox is small and narrow, with a tiny waist, and she wears her long, thick dark brown hair parted in the middle, which gives her a vaguely Indian quality. Her most striking feature is her eyes — theyre bright blue and catlike, and they look half-closed even when theyre wide-open.
For all her raunchy talk, Fox is surprisingly dainty and ladylike. She took ballet for much of her childhood, and she has a natural stillness and grace. Shes not warm or particularly friendly and doesnt seem at all interested in small talk. Instead, shes self-contained and a bit wary. She will answer any question, but she resists true dialogue. With Fox, its not a conversation but a presentation.
Fox arranged herself in an armchair. The television, which was mounted near the ceiling, was tuned to The View, and Fox made no effort to lower the sound. She watches a lot of television, hours and hours of reality-based shows, from Jon & Kate Plus 8 to Ghost Hunters to Say Yes to the Dress, which is about women searching for the perfect wedding gown. I dont know why I love it, but I do, Fox said now, as she picked at a plate of steamed spinach. Its really confusing to me, so I study it. They all cry when they find the dress. I dont understand why they all cry.
Fox said this as if she were contemplating an alien species. Having conquered the male audience, she was now trying to figure out what women want. Four days earlier, Jennifers Body opened, and despite Foxs many salacious interviews and alluring photos, the movie performed poorly, winding up in fifth place at the box office.
Jennifers Body, which was written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, was aimed at women. Fox plays a sexually sophisticated high-school girl transformed into a zombie demon that must feed on humans to survive. She satisfies this desire by first seducing and then eating men. Not surprisingly, and despite the heavily publicised 64-second lesbian makeout scene, men did not buy many tickets. Neither did women, who tend to prefer movies that feature more approachable, less vixenish actresses, like Sandra Bullock or Jennifer Aniston.
People expected Jennifers Body to make so much money, Fox said flatly. But I was doubtful. The movie is about a man-eating, cannibalistic lesbian cheerleader, and that pretty much eliminates middle America. Its obviously a girl-power movie, but its also about how scary girls are. Girls can be a nightmare. Fox paused and stared up at the ladies on The View. If I was to have a message, it would be to be a different kind of role model to girls. With Jennifers Body, I want to say, its .K. to be different from how youre supposed to be. I worry thats totally lost.
Fox and her team — have grown increasingly nervous about her media image. The lack of success of Jennifers Body highlighted their concern: the outrageousness that made Fox an instant star was not attracting a paying audience, especially among females. They were hoping that hosting S.N.L. and some appearances on talk shows on which she seemed demure might help to change the dialogue about Fox from the out-of-control sex bomb to the Fox they know, who is a homebody with a long-time boyfriend (the actor Brian Austin Green, 36) and a fondness for spending Saturday nights at Red Lobster, where she likes the cheese biscuits. That, they maintain, is the girl that girls should see. But Fox is less certain.
GIRLS THINK IM A SLUT.... IF YOURE ATTRACTIVE, YOURE A DUMB WHORE
Women tear each other apart, she told me now. Girls think Im a slut, and Ive been in the same relationship since I was 18. The problem is, if they think youre attractive, youre either stupid or a whore or a dumb whore. The instinct among girls is to attack the jugular.
Fox says she believes that Hollywood reinforces these stereotypes and prejudices. She seems to think that her constant references to sex are a kind of feminist stance, that while she may seem like a headline-seeking provocateur, she is simply navigating a complex and chauvinistic world. If I had been a typical starlet and said all the right things, I wouldnt have escalated to this level. I do an interview and I talk like a person and that, for some reason, is shocking. All women in Hollywood are known as sex symbols. Youre sold, and its based on sex. Thats .K., if you know how to use it.
Fox was interrupted by the doorbell. Her agent Chuck James and her publicist Leslie Sloane Zelnick had arrived to take her to Rockefeller Center for an S.N.L. rehearsal. Sloane Zelnick, who, like her client, wore black leggings and a long cardigan, handed Fox a bag of leggings and matching tops. This group is fascinated by leggings. When Fox saw her other publicist, Dominique Appel, the next day, she was wearing leggings with sewn-in knee pads. Are those the Lindsay Lohan leggings? Fox asked. The ones that are made for getting on your knees?
We have to go, Sloane said now. Fox looked over at a pair of silicone breast enhancers lying on a side table next to her phone. They resembled raw, skinless chicken cutlets. Do I need to bring my boobies to S.N.L.? Fox asked. Sloane Zelnick thought for a second. Its just going to be a read-through. You dont need boobies for a read-through. Fox picked them up and put them down. I like a job that doesnt require my boobies, she said.
IM NOT A TIGRESS LIKE ANGELINA
In 2005, when the breakdown for Transformers was sent to agents, the character of Mikaela Banes, a sexy gear-head high-school girl, who with her boyfriend discovers a race of bellicose robots and kind of saves the world, was described to Fox as a 16-year-old Angelina Jolie.
At the time, Fox was 19 and working in New York, playing the wild teenage daughter on an ABC sitcom called Hope & Faith. She had just signed with a new agent (James), and the first audition he sent her on was for Transformers. When he read the breakdown of the character, he knew Fox would get the job.
In looks, in temperament, she was the next Angelina. From the start of her career, Jolie combined stunning looks, talent and a penchant for extreme behaviour. She was openly bisexual, had many tattoos and flaunted her fascination with drugs, blood and self-destructive behaviour. Until she adopted her first child, Maddox, in 2002, Jolie was Hollywoods favourite wild child. She won an Academy Award, she was the sexiest woman alive and she was a media sensation.
What better person for Megan Fox to emulate? And while Fox hasnt shown Jolies acting talent, the rest could be approximated. The physical resemblance is striking: Fox is shorter and less lush, but the pillowy lips are similar, and in a sea of Hollywood blondes, Fox, like Jolie, is brunette. If theres an Angelina playbook, Fox followed it. She has seven or eight tattoos, depending on whom you ask, including a reference to King Lear (We will all laugh at gilded butterflies) in gothic calligraphy on her upper back that stylistically mirrors a tattoo on Jolies upper back.
Like Jolie, Fox told journalists that she was bisexual, that the actress Olivia Wilde was so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands. Fox emphasised the outrageous, especially in her first big cover article for GQ, in which she embroidered her love affair with the stripper Nikita, defined herself as a man in a sexy womans body and announced her thoughts on Angelina. I dont even consider her human, she said. Shes like a superhuman goddess.
The Jolie comparison would probably have been made by the media eventually, but Fox sped up the process. By linking herself to Jolie, she sped up every process. And when Jolie became a mom and a goodwill ambassador, Fox was ready to step into her shoes.
Fox, who is an expert shedder of skins, complains that the Jolie comparisons are now the bane of my existence, which is part of the reason she wanted to host S.N.L. Her complaints seem exaggerated — who wouldnt want to be compared to Angelina Jolie? — Fox maintained that, unlike Jolie, she has a sense of humour and that her interviews are meant to be funny rather than provocative. People compare me to Angelina Jolie, and shes so serious and stoic, Fox explained. Im the opposite. When I do interviews, I say things that I think are hysterical…. Im not a tigress like Angelina. Of course, people want me to be. But I want to be the contradiction of that.
MY BODY PARTS ARE ALL I HAVE LEFT THAT ARE ONLY MINE
From an early age, Fox was restless. I hated authority figures telling me what to do. They wanted me to be conservative, but when I was a kid, I was obsessed with looking like Barbie. I was wearing the smallest clothes I could find. Her first acting role was in Holiday in the Sun, an Olsen twins film that went straight to DVD. At 17, she moved to L.A. and landed the role of Lindsay Lohans enemy in Disneys Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. I played the bitch, of course. I was always cast as the bitch. The light-haired girl is the sweet leading lady, and the dark girl is the sexy bitch…. You have to be put in a box in this industry so they can sell you, she explained.
On her right forearm, Fox has an intricate tattoo of Marilyn Monroe. Although she has read biographies of Ava Gardner, Elizabeth Taylor and other movie-star icons, Fox is particularly fascinated by Monroe. She lived her whole life as a character playing other characters. And that was her defence mechanism. But Marilyn stumbled and lost her way. She became overwhelmed by the character she created. Hollywood is filled with women who have tried to cope. I like to study them. I like to see how theyve succeeded. And how theyve failed.
Fox didnt expect to be in Los Angeles for Halloween. She was set to begin a new film, Passion Play, which will be shot in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, N.M. Because of a budget dispute, the productions start date was delayed. In the movie, Fox will star opposite Mickey Rourke, who plays a trumpet player who gets into deep trouble when he sleeps with a mobsters wife. Hes wandering in the desert, Fox explained, as she ate half a French fry, and he comes across a travelling circus. Im part of the freak show. I play a winged girl. I have bird wings that sprouted out of my back during puberty. And Im on display. Guys pay money to look at me.
Passion Play was written by and will be the directorial debut of Mitch Glazer. This will be the first film that Fox has done in which shes required to embody a complicated character. In her next movie, Jonah Hex, which is based on a comic book, she plays a prostitute.
I had my first sex scene in that movie, she said. I had on underwear and silicone covers that you wear over your breasts. I would never be naked in a film. You should never say never, but my body parts are all I have left that are only mine. The world owns everything else.
She paused. I have to pull back a little bit now, Fox said. I do live in a glass box. And I am on display for men to pay to look at me. And that bothers me. I dont want to live that character.
WHO IS MEGAN FOX?
Date of birth: May 16, 1986
Hails from: Tennessee
Debut: Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen (2004)
Breakout film: Transformers
In a relationship with: Brian Austin Green, who played David Silver in Beverly Hills 90210
Trivia: Fox has been listed #18, #16, and #2 on Maxim magazines yearly Hot 100 list in 2007, 2008 and 2009 respectively, while FHM readers voted her the Sexiest Woman in the World in 2008. She ranked number one on Moviefones The 25 Hottest Actors Under 25 in 2008.
Foxs overexposure in media resulted in many magazines and newspapers in the US opting to boycott her for a day. August 4, 2009 was dubbed A Day Without Megan Fox.