Last year, we reported on the bizarre story regarding Michael Bay being attacked in Hong Kong during filming on Transformers: Age of Extinction. Initial reports stated that two local men had been trying to extort the production, and when Bay refused, the director got punched in the face. The men were arrested, and the Bay resumed filming. It was a little schadenfreude for Bay’s detractors, but not much more. However, the studio then sent out a clarification saying Bay was not punched in the face, but was attacked by a man who “was wielding an air conditioning unit as his weapon of choice,” a sentence that is no less strange today than it was last October. Bay also sent out a statement detailing the event.
At the press day for Transformers: Age of Extinction, Bay sat down with Steve and told the story with some new details. Hit the jump for what he had to say.
Hi, it’s Michael.
Yes, the story is being passed around is not all true! Yes, some drugged up guys were being belligerent asses to my crew for hours in the morning of our first shoot day in Hong Kong. One guy rolled metal carts into some of my actors trying to shake us down for thousands of dollars to not play his loud music or hit us with bricks.
Every vendor where we shot got paid a fair price for our inconvenience, but he wanted four times that amount. I personally told this man and his friends to forget it we were not going to let him extort us. He didn’t like that answer. So an hour later he came by my crew as we were shooting, carrying a long air conditioner unit. He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face, but I ducked threw the air unit on the floor and pushed him away. That’s when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie World War Z—he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guards Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved.
Then it took fifteen Hong Kong cops in riot gear to deal with these punks. In all, four guys were arrested for assaulting the officers.
After that, we had a great day shooting here in Hong Kong.
In his interview with Steve, Bay cleared up a few things but another item became unclear.
First, if you were like me and wondering how anyone could even get close to the director on the set of a blockbuster movie, Bay explained that they’re not allowed to close off streets in Hong Kong. Traffic has to be allowed to pass through. Second, Bay noted that he may have escalated matters by personally getting in the face of the extortionist before the assault.
The biggest difference in the stories, both from the original reports and the one Bay tells now is the number of assailants. According to Steve’s interview with Bay, there was only one assailant as opposed to the multiple assailants from previous reports, including Bay’s where he said “Then it took fifteen Hong Kong cops in riot gear to deal with these punks. In all, four guys were arrested for assaulting the officers.”
I still don’t think we have the full story, but here’s the transcript of how Bay tells it now:
MICHAEL BAY: Should we talk about the guy with the air conditioner? Let me tell you, okay…I might have started the fight, okay? I might have started the fight. This guy was extorting us. He really screwed up my shoot for two-and-a-half hours, and we’re very organized. When we come to a location, we spend a year coming in, we pay off all the store owners, everyone got a very fair wage for their little shops. This guy had a shit-burger shop. He sold parts of air conditioning—it was junk. You look in there and it was just junk. And he had this saw, it was like metal, and he was just grinding it. And he’s yelling, and he’s wacked out on drugs, and he attacked one of my actors, he threw some bricks at some of my other crew. The cops came down, and they say, “There’s nothing we can do.”
And we’re like, “What do you mean there’s nothing you can do?”
Then he was way, way obnoxious. And you know, he’s a little guy, and I went up to him and I said, “Go fuck yourself.” I got in his face. “Go fuck yourself, alright?” Maybe he understood me? I don’t know. But I was really mad because he was screwing up the entire shoot.
I said, “Guys, let’s take all our stuff, go a football field away, shoot at the opening of this apartment building. Let’s get away from these guys. These guys are just being punks.
The Hong Kong crew was really embarrassed by this guy, by what he was doing. So then we’re shooting because we’re not allowed to lock down anything. The rule in Hong Kong is that you need the flow of traffic, people—nothing can be stopped. So we shoot this shot by this albino butcher. Have you ever shot an albino butcher? I did! He’s right over here in this cooking shop in Hong Kong!
And we’re shooting this shot, and in the middle of the scene this guy with this air conditioner you’d put over a doorway, he walking, and I’m like, “Oh my god. It’s that punk.” And literally we’re shooting and no one sees him, and he comes at me and he kind of does the air conditioner like that [makes slinging motion], and I duck, and then I grab the thing and then I grabbed his throat because I was pissed. And that’s when the security guys jumped on him. Five guys jumped on him, and the guy was lifting them off. These were SAS guys. Something was not right here. It was wild.
But walking around the malls on our day off, literally, I’m not kidding you, 75 people from Hong Kong just came up to you, “We’re so sorry. That’s not how people are in Hong Kong.”
And here’s the video. Look for more of Steve’s interview with Michael Bay later this week.