From filmmaker M.J. Bassett, the action thriller Rogue follows battle-hardened mercenary Samantha O’Hara (Megan Fox) and her team of soldiers on a highly dangerous mission to rescue hostages from their terrorist captors in remote Africa. As everything begins to go awry, they have to think and act fast to survive, as they face bloody confrontation from the men pursuing them, along with a horde of violently angry lions that they unexpectedly encounter.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, Megan Fox talked about why she was attracted to this project, becoming a believable action hero, the tone writer/director M.J. Bassett set for the film, shooting such intense action sequences, and how refreshing it was to not have to work a romance into this story. She also talked about Jennifer’s Body finally gaining the respect that it’s always deserved, how changing her mind-set about herself has changed the types of roles she’s now offered, and what she’s currently working on now.
Collider: When this came your way, what was it about this project that caught your attention?
MEGAN FOX: I liked that it had a conservationist message, and I was afraid to do it. I just didn’t have the confidence to have to really commit to playing someone who had served in the military. I grew up playing sports and stuff when I was a kid, but I just didn’t feel like I would be convincing as this character, which scared me and was the reason I wanted to do it. I knew that I had to push through that and try to do it anyway, and just throw caution to the wind and see what happened. And then, the third aspect was the fact that it was shooting in Africa. I just had a real pull to that location and knew that I needed to go there, for some reason.
The biggest key to being a female action hero is believability. What did you want to bring to the character to make her and your portrayal of her believable, not just for audiences, but so that you could feel believable in it?
FOX: For me, a lot of that had to do with trying to lower the pitch and octave of my voice, and then also body language, and getting comfortable with the weapon and the gear. When you’re wearing the chest plates and the vest, and you’re loaded up with the guns, that changes how you walk and how you move, so that was really helpful to me, to have that on me. And then, the other thing that M.J. [Bassett] and I had to work on a lot is that I’m actually really vulnerable and it’s really easy for me to be vulnerable on camera. Even when you go through Jennifer’s Body, there are so many scenes where you can see, in my eyes, a brokenness and a fragility. That emotion comes very easy for me, so we had to bury that a lot because she didn’t want to see that in this character. She wanted to see somebody who was more hardened, and that is such a stretch for me. Even after everything that I’ve lived through, I’m still so sensitive and so open, so we had to close me up, which was an interesting process. That was pretty challenging.
How did you find the experience of working on an action film that was being helmed by a trans woman who co-wrote the film with her daughter, and then you were at the center of it? As the one leading the team and creating the tone for the other actors, were there things that you wanted to do to set the tone on set?
FOX: I definitely feel like M.J. was still setting the tone and was definitely the captain and team leader, for sure. I followed her lead. I wanted to do my best to keep up with these guys. There was no complaining. I wanted to commit the same way that they were committing. In spite of what most people would probably assume, I’m actually really low maintenance, so in terms of setting a vibe on set, I think like I’m pretty easy for the most part. I just followed her lead. It was her set. It’s her movie. I was there to learn about myself and to grow myself, as an actor. I was just there to appreciate the process.
I’m very familiar with her work. I’ve been a fan of Strike Back for a long time, and that show has had some of the most insane action sequences that I’ve ever seen. What was it like to get to do this level of action?
FOX: Those weapons aren’t prop weapons. Those are real weapons. They’re really heavy. I don’t know what my gun weighs. Maybe nine or 10 pounds. I’m not sure. The whole first action sequence of the movie, we were actually shooting on the first day as a single shot, which was insane. What it required, with all of those moving pieces, all of the actors hitting all the right marks, getting the language perfect, and avoiding any of the special effects that were going off and making sure that was going off at the right time, was insane. You’re right, some of her stunt sequences are just so gnarly, and it was so fun to be a part of it. It’s so scary. It’s scary because you’re like, “Fuck, I don’t wanna fuck it up. I don’t wanna be the reason it’s fucked up.” And everybody had to do it, over and over again, and everybody was exhausted. The pressure was so high for each of us – everybody in the scene – to get it right, every time, ‘cause you don’t wanna be the person that ruined it for everybody else. So, the stakes are high that way, and it makes it exciting. I think it also adds to the performance because you are exhausted and you are stressed the fuck out. All of that’s real. You can just lean into that and use that.
As an actress who’s been in this business for awhile now, how refreshing was it to get to play a bad-ass while also not having to be sexualized?
FOX: That is interesting because usually there is at least a B story of a romance, and she didn’t do that, at all, which I really appreciated. I don’t think it would have worked. It was brilliant to not have it in there. This is just a movie about these people going on this mission and then trying to survive with this wild shit that’s going on, on the side. You’re like, “What is happening in this movie?!” I felt that way when I was reading the script. I was like, “What is this about? What kind of a movie is this? I thought this was a mercenary movie. What is this?!” But it was fun. It was a relief. It’s easy for me to do those scenes, as well. It’s easy to have chemistry with another actor. That was another thing we had to fight because that’s something that comes up for me really easy ‘cause I’ve done it for so long and so often. Even in scenes that aren’t supposed to be romantic or where there’s not supposed to be a connection, I’m able to find a connection with that other actor because I admire them, as an actor, and I admire what’s going on in the scene. And M.J. was like, “No, I don’t want you to be soft, at all. I don’t wanna see your admiration. I want you to be cold. I want you to be shut down.” She really worked with me a lot on that.
How do you feel about Jennifer’s Body finally finding an audience and being respected as the modern horror classic that it really always has been?
FOX: That, obviously, is overdue. We were all aware of what we were making at the time that we were making it. We were all taken aback – and we meaning me, Karyn [Kusama], Diablo [Cody], and the main players – by how the studio marketed that movie, which was outrageous, and by how it was received. I can’t sit there and watch that movie and not be like, “This is a fucking hilarious, subtle satire. This is a great movie.” It’s so interesting. Diablo is so brilliant. Some of those shots in that movie, like that shot going across the football field, are insane. It was so good. The DP and the directing was so good. I don’t know. It just wasn’t time. It was a decade ahead of its time, and it took this long for culture to catch up.
What would you say your approach and your mind-set is when it comes to your career now? Is it different from how you approached it when you started out? Do you feel like what you’re looking for has changed a lot over the years?
FOX: What’s changed is how I feel about myself, and because that frequency is different, I’m attracting different types of things to myself. When your self worth is at a different level, you attract better things to you. It’s the same with relationships. If you don’t have a love for yourself and you can’t appreciate yourself, then the partners you attract to yourself mirror that back to you. They don’t appreciate you either, and they don’t take care of you either. But then, when you raise up to a new level where you understand, “I am lovable, with or without someone else,” then you start attracting people to you who echo that back to you, and who do respect you and love you and honor you. So, it’s the same thing with my career. Once I started appreciating myself and having a confidence in myself, the types of scripts and roles that are being sent to me are the ones that I’m excited to do.
Do you know what the next step will be for you? Have you had conversations about when and how you could safely return to work again?
FOX: Oh, I’m at work right now. I have two movies that are in production, right now, and then I have a third one that’s gonna be starting up in October. I’m really lucky. I know a lot of people across the world that are still not able to work. I’m one of the people where my projects happened to have gotten back up and started really quickly. I’m so grateful to be here, to be working, and to have the opportunity. I’m really happy with the projects I’m on, as well.
What kind of projects are you working on now?
FOX: I’m completing one that we started pre-pandemic, called Midnight in the Switchgrass. And then, I’m doing one in Bulgaria right now with Millennium called Till Death, which they’re probably gonna categorize as a thriller. I think it could also fall into the category of a dark comedy. And then, I have a movie with Arclight that’s gonna be going in October, called Aurora. My character is an astronaut, and it has some Christopher Nolan elements to it, where you’re dealing with the space-time continuum, solar flares, and things like that.
Rogue is available on Apple TV and anywhere you can rent movies.