The Case For Megan Fox, Actress

A little while back, I advanced the idea that seeing Megan Fox act might ruin the image I had of her as a delightful, quotable ingenue with a sense of humor. At the time, I was yet to see the new Transformers movie -- or any Megan Fox film at all, few as there have been -- and when I finally did, my worst fears were realized. Her tinny voice was lost amidst the explosions, her ass was given more screen time than her face, and when she was sharing a shot with another actor yet had no dialogue herself (a frequent situation), she appeared dead-eyed, like she'd already mentally checked out of the scene.

All this is to say that I didn't expect to find myself writing a defense of Megan Fox's acting abilities just two short months later.

I've seen Jennifer's Body, and while I'm not at liberty to review the film yet, I can safely say that it at least reverses my opinion of Fox's cinematic talents -- and, I'm betting, the opinion of many others. Sure, there will always be people who instinctively lay into Fox as a pretty face who can't act, but after the film is released two weeks from now, at least she'll finally have her defenders.

It's a great role for Fox in many ways, not least of which is because it's an actual role: Rather than merely serving as eye candy, Fox is given a range of things to do and she nails them. What makes the part of Jennifer Check an even better fit for Fox, though, is that it tweaks her eye candy image about as often as Fox herself does in the press. Playing a popular hottie with some unexpected bite is second nature to the actress; just listen as Fox compares Michael Bay to Hitler, and tell me it's not as deliciously vicious as watching beautiful Jennifer grow fangs to feast on an unsuspecting emo kid.

Finally, that comic timing that comes through on the magazine page is given script pages that can utilize it. As Jennifer, Fox is snappy and clever, and her thin voice provides an interesting counterpoint to the unmistakably muscular voice of Jennifer's writer, Diablo Cody. In the wrong hands (and sometimes even the right ones, like Rainn Wilson's in Juno), there's a danger that Cody's carefully crafted comebacks can feel overdeliberate, but to hear them casually deadpanned by Fox gives the proceedings a quirky jolt. Other actresses would have used those lines to chew the scenery, but Fox effectively plays against them, and when things turn serious or unexpectedly emotional, she pops even more.

Will Fox have a chance to flex these newfound muscles in other films? I'm gonna be brutally honest: probably not. Her presence is too contemporary to earn her the same sort of roles as Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman, and unlike her oft-mentioned predecessor Angelina Jolie (who avidly throws herself into each part), Fox always possesses a certain degree of cool remove on-screen -- it's practically her shtick.

Still, here's hoping that from time to time, a smart talent will take a chance on Fox and rescue her from a career of being the hot girl in Adam Sandler comedies. Certainly, Jennifer's Body will prove that she's capable of more than she's given credit for, but her blank "who gives a fuck" line readings in the Transformers franchise may indicate that's it up to each director to tap into that. If Michael Bay is Hitler, then, Jennifer's Body director Karyn Kusama must be Winston Churchill.


  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    yay, kyle, you just reaffirmed my notion that megan has something underneath the teeth-licking, thumbsucking, boy-toy bullshit. i just think she should stick to comedies and or dramedies for the time being or until the right director with the right role (preferably a supporting one) comes along

  • jamie says:

    I did a sketch this summer where Megan Fox was out to be outrageous in the press because she was covering for being self-conscious about her thumbs. I was completely going on the hype of "Megan Fox is a crazy hot chick who says weird shit for attention." I didn't do it to be mean, I kind of just wanted to think that she could be an insecure plebian like the rest of us. After reading this though, I kind of want to do another sketch to redeem her (or the "Megan Fox" I wrote and played). Because now I'm, really, really looking forward to "Jennifer's Body" and SNL. I think they're both gonna rock.

  • Hernando Bansuelo says:

    you should do a mention of the AMAZING, EPIC profile on genius SPIKE JONZE in NYT!

  • Mikey says:

    What a great piece of writing.
    I like to hope that women who decide to become actresses are women like Megan Fox, with talent and potential. Sadly, it's not always the case. I also like to hope that actresses with talent and potential aren't overlooked, nor their potential unfulfilled. Here's hoping.

  • sugarrhill says:

    Case dismissed. Fox is an Alba not a Jolie. The sooner everyone accepts that the better. She's eye candy. It's not that deep. Deal.

  • GollyGreenG says:

    What's crazy is when the actress knows she is just eye candy but her fans don't. She has said herself that she is only here (although she may have just been referring to her part in Transformers) to look pretty but her fans are adamant that she is bubbling with talent beneath the surface. Just like you said she is an Alba not a Jolie. It not that Alba or Fox can't act it just that they have more looks than they do talent.

  • np says:

    No really, it is that they can't act. It's like they're reading their lines for the first time off cue cards. Horrible.
    "there will always be people who instinctively lay into Fox as a pretty face who can’t act"
    Maybe, but I feel like for every one of those people, there is a corresponding Transformers/Megan Fox fan who confuses her sex appeal with some kind of actual talent.
    I will see Jennifer's Body, though, because I do love me some horror.

  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    but she's kind of funny in interviews (watch some of them if you care), that it's hard to dismiss her ability outright, at least comedically.

  • np says:

    Well I will admit that I thought she was pretty funny in the phony Peer Pressure PSA for Jennifer's Body.
    I suppose I should check myself a bit with regard to dismissing her ability since (as is kind of the point of this post) I've only ever seen her in Transformers and the material itself is just so awful that it's difficult to really get a sense of what anyone's acting abilities might be (for the record I think Shia's acting in Transformers is also godawful!).
    I've never watched any interviews, but I've read some. Sometimes she is kind of funny. Sometimes I feel like she's just saying wacky shit to say wacky shit.

  • chris says:

    Why do actors or actresses have to "overact" to be known as a good actor? It is funny how the biggest blockbusters, (the movies people really want to see) are the ones with the actors who can't act. Give me someone who seems real in their actions not someone who over dramatizes every line..

  • John says:

    The real question is, when is Megatron going to Destroy the Mid-West for being Anti-Gay, as per Megan Fox's request ?

  • sugarrhill says:

    I don't understand the connection. People seem to think because someone is kind of funny, cool, calm and collected in real life or at least during an interview it makes them a better actor? Uhm, okay?

  • bess marvin, girl detective says:

    she is able to master comedic timing in her interviews and yes i believe with the right director that can be transferrable to screen.

  • Suen says:

    OMG Courtney and Ms. Moss back in the day? Insane