Actor/model LaMonica Garrett joins us to chat about his role in the upcoming third Transformer film, working with characters that aren’t there in the real world, favorite science fiction shows, the overlap of westerns and science fiction, his genre connections, working with Rebecca Romijn, working on Fight Night: Champion, playing a video game in which you are the lead character, scary horror films, and more.
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NOTE: I was mistaken; it is not LaMonica in the Transformers Superbowl trailer.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Director and producer Michael Bay is best known for directing high-budget action films such as The Rock, Armageddon, Pearl Harbor and, of course, the Transformers series now coming out with the third film. He got his start directing commercials and music videos, including “I Touch Myself” by the Divinyls and “Soldier of Love” by Donny Osmond.
The Transformers began as a Hasbro toy line in the mid-1980s. The line centered on two warring factions of alien robots, the Autobots and the Decepticons. Due to the popularity of the toys, the franchise expanded into comic book, animation, video games and now films.
The basic story line of Transformers is that on the planet Cybertron there was a race of sentient robots who are basically humanoid in appearance, but can transform into a variety of machines, vehicles and other mechanical objects.
The Autobots the “good” robots and the Decepticons are the “evil” robots. Autobots have blue eyes and tend to transform into civilian vehicles. However, some Autobots can transform into aircraft, military vehicles, communication devices, weapons, and cyborg animals. Decepticons have red eyes and usually turn into some form of aircraft. Many turn into military vehicles, construction vehicles and even smaller-than-human-sized objects.
LaMonica mentioned Bumblebee, Optimus Prime and Megatron in particular. Bumblebee is a small, yellow Autobot who turns into a compact car. Optimus Prime is the leader of the Autobots who turns into a cab over truck. Megatron is the leader of the Decepticons (in most versions of the Transformers universe) and tends to transform into military hardware, such as a Walther P38 pistol.
My Transformer Earrings
In the 1980s, I was totally into big earrings. So when I saw these little goofy gems, I just had to have them! And I still do. This picture was taken on May 1, 2011. They have holes in the bottom, so they could be used as pencil toppers, too.
Blurring Genres: Westerns and Science Fiction
Mostly found in film and television, the science fiction subgenre of space western takes the typical themes of American Western literature an film and places them in space … the space frontier, so to speak. In fact, Star Trek was pitched as “Wagon Train to the Stars” — Wagon Train was a popular TV Western in the 1950s and 1960s.
Another similar subgenre is the science fiction western, which rather than placing Western themes in space, brings science fiction elements into the Old West. This genre overlaps with both alternate history and steampunk.
LaMonica’s Favorite SciFi & Action Films & TV
|Star Trek – Probably one of the most successful science fiction franchises, Star Trek (1966-1969) first aired in September 1966. It has since spawned five other series — The Animated Series (1973-1974), The Next Generation (1987-1994), Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), Voyager (1995-2001) and Enterprise (2001-2005) — as well as a movie series and is now in a rebooted movie series.|
|Tron – The first Tron film came out in 1982 and was praised for its visuals and acting. It spawned a franchise of video games, comic books and an animated series. A sequel, Tron: Legacy was released last year.|
|Voltron Force – based on the animated series about lion robots and their pilots from 1984, this new animated TV series is scheduled to release in June on Nicktoons. Mark Hildreth who played Joshua on recent reboot of V is the voice of King Lotor.|
|Star Wars: Return of the Jedi – The third movie of the Star Wars series to be released, but the sixth episode in the story arc, came out in 1983. It was the first film to use THX technology. In the original release of the film, Sebastian Shaw portrayed Anakin Skywalker. Once Episodes I, II and III were made with Hayden Christensen playing the role, a retouched version of the film was released with Christensen replacing Shaw.|
|Back to the Future – This trilogy of films, released in 1985, 1989 and 1990, tells the story of Marty McFly who must goes back in time and meets his future parents when they were in high school. He accidentally changes history and has to repair the damage. The time machine was created using a DeLorean sports car. The doors of a DeLorean open up and out (like a UFO!), instead of sideways and out like other cars.|
Genre Stars LaMonica Has Worked With
- Lucy Lawless – The Ray Bradbury Theater, Typon’s People, Hercules and the Amazon Women, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, Boogeyman, Locusts, Vampire Bats, Darkroom, Battlestar Galactica and No Ordinary Family.
- Eddie Cibrian – Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, The Cave and Invasion (TV series)
- Ving Rhames – Jacob’s Ladder, The People Under the Stairs, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Dawn of the Dead (2004), Day of the Dead (2008), Evil Angel, Surrogates and Piranha 3D
- Jada Pinkett Smith – Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, The Nutty Professor, Scream 2, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions
- Eliza Dushku – Soul Survivors, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Wrong Turn, Tru Calling, Open Graves, Dollhouse and rumored to be in the forthcoming Ghostbusters III film.
- Glenn Moreshower – Dead & Buried, The Philadelphia Experiment, Rock-A-Die Baby, Intruders, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: The Next Generations, Babylon 5, Alien Nation: Body and Soul, Star Trek: Voyager, Dark Skies, The X-Files, Godzilla (1998), First Wave, Strange World, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Enterprise, Category 6: Day of Destruction, The Island, Charmed, Transformers, The 4400, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Dollhouse.
- Queen Latifah (Dana Owens) – Sphere, Living with the Dead, Scary Movie 3 and Stranger than Fiction.
- Kiele Sanchez – Lost, Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, 30 Days of Night: Dark Days and Insanitarium
- Gabrielle Union – Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Night Stalker, Meet Dave and FlashForward
This short-lived 2009 TV series starred Jaime Ray Newman (Eureka, Stargate: Atlantis), Linsay Price (Club Dread) and Rebecca Romijn (Mystique from the X-Men films) as three women who discover they are witches. The show was developed by Maggie Friedman based on the John Updike novel, The Witches of Eastwick, which was also made into a film starring Cher, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer as the witches.
Fight Night: Champion
This boxing video game from EA Sports was released on March 1, 2011 for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Unlike previous installments in the series, this game focuses on a single character, Andre Bishop, voiced by LaMonica Garrett. It is also supposed to have “grittier” and “darker” animation than early games and players can get damage that “truly conveys the brutality of the sport of boxing.” Champion mode, written by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Will Rokos (Monsters’s Ball, TV’s Southland), puts players in the shoes of Bishop as he discovers that becoming a champion involves more than just what happens between the ropes.
|A Nightmare on Elm Street
In 1984, the first movie of this successful slasher horror franchise was released. Written by Wes Craven, the plot focuses on a group of teenagers who are being killed by a serial killer in their dreams, resulting in their death in the real world. A Nightmare on Elm Street launched one of the most recognized horror icons, Fred Krueger, played by Robert Englund. Johnny Depp got his feature film debut in this movie. There were seven films in the original series, and in 2010 the first film was remade.
|A Nightmare on My Street
Inspired by A Nightmare on Elm Street, this DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince song was a crossover hit in the United States. Released in early 1988, it reached #15 on the Hot 100. The song incorporated the theme music from the movie and tells a story where Will Smith and his friends see the movie and then Fred Krueger visits them in their dreams.
A current trend in horror films is remaking Japanese and other Asian horror films for the American market. The Ring (2002), directed by Gore Verbinski, was a remake of Ringu, a 1998 horror film. Both films were based on Ring, a novel by Koji Suzuki, about a cursed video tape. Whenever someone watches the tape, they receive a phone call from a girl who says they will die in seven days.
The first film in a franchise that eventually intersected with the Alien franchise came out in theaters in 1987 and starred Arnold Schwarzenegger as the leader of a team of commandos on a mission in the Central American jungle. They soon find themselves in a fight for their lives against and alien warrior there to hunt them. The franchise includes several sequels, novel, comic books and video game spinoffs. The latest sequel, Predators, was released last year.
(Editor’s Note: I saw this film on a first date with a guy whose nick name was “Doc” because he looked like Tom Baker as Dr. Who.)
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson got his start in wrestling and has parlayed that into a growing film career. His feature film debut was as the Scorpion King in The Mummy Returns. That lead to the film The Scorpion King. Since then his genre film appearances have included Doom, Southland Tales, Get Smart, Race to Witch Mountain, Planet 51 and Tooth Fairy.
LaMonica’s friend Laz has appeared in a few genre films, including Leprachaun: Back 2 tha Hood, All Souls Day: Dia de los Muertos, Constantine, Captivity and Avatar.
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