Megan Fox: “I don’t want to live that character.”

Posted by · 1:04 pm · November 12th, 2009

Megan FoxAs someone who is neither a fan nor a detractor of Megan Fox, Lynn Hirschberg’s mammoth profile of the actress in yesterday’s New York Times made for fascinating, and rather upsetting, reading.

Less a straightforward interview than a scientific deconstruction of her star persona, the picture it paints is of a savvy career woman who has invested so much time and effort in building her public image that her own personality has been obscured — even to herself.

I have no real opinion of Fox as an actress, as we haven’t been given enough to judge her on: she is precisely as good (or bad, according to taste) as her roles demand in “Transformers” or “Jennifer’s Body.” Physically, she’s obviously attractive, but not sparky or distinctive enough to interest me personally.

Clearly, I’m not the only one indifferent to Fox in these respects, as her celebrity currently hinges less on what she does on screen (or even in photo shoots) than what she says in public. Not many female sex symbols are more famous for their words than their looks, so you have to credit her chutzpah even if you’re among the haters. (I’m certainly not — for one thing, who cares enough about Michael Bay to leap to his defense, rightly or wrongly?)

What I find less creditable, and indicative of a malady in the current Hollywood star system, is the cynicism with which Fox explains herself. She stresses to Hirschberg that the Megan Fox of the outrageous soundbites and kinky exhibitionism is not her, but a character she has devised to protect her privacy. That’s a perfectly intelligent, and not particularly new, fame-managing strategy, but then she goes on to say:

You have to be put in a box in this industry so they can sell you … They need to get hits on their blogs or sell their magazines. So everyone is something. And if I’m not a party girl, which I’m not, I then have to be the outrageous personality.

I can’t help grimacing at the defeatist tone of that remark, particularly when she later suggests she’s less than happy with the outcome of this approach:

I have to pull back a little bit now … 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 don’t want to live that character.

Such statements will inevitably give the anti-Fox brigade more ammunition for their case that she’s self-absorbed and/or hypocritical, but I can’t help feeling for her a little. Not because of the “glass box” metaphor or any such poor-little-rich-girl concerns — she created her situation, and I suspect she enjoys it more than that last quote suggests — but because such soundbites ultimately betray so little self-belief.

Fox states bluntly in the interview that she doesn’t particularly rate her ability — “I don’t know if I’m talented, I don’t know what I can do or can’t do.” — and there’s something to be said for knowing one’s limitations. (Someone like George Clooney has built a superb career on just such an awareness.) But I do wonder if, by concentrating so emphatically, and schematically, on her celebrity, she’s risks selling herself short as an actress.

As I’m sure we all have, Hirschberg draws an extended comparison between Fox and the young Angelina Jolie, lurid tattoos and all. It’s a parallel that Fox herself obviously feeds to some extent, but the crucial difference is that Jolie never seemed less than convinced of her own talent.

To watch Jolie in her late-1990s breakout phase is to watch a ruthlessly ambitious actress clawing her way ahead of her co-stars for attention in every scene: it’s that compellingly brazen self-belief that netted her an Oscar, at the age of 24, for a thinly written part in a terrible film. I remain unconvinced that Jolie is a great actress, but even when she’s bad or misdirected, she’s a committed one.

Fox is currently 23, nearly the same age Jolie was when her career went stratospheric, though the respectable crossover roles don’t seem to be hers just yet. They might still come. I see no reason why, in ten years time, she couldn’t be as successful and widely admired as Jolie is now — but if that’s to be the case, then she needs to show a little more conviction, and perhaps a little more of her true self too. If she really has kept it under wraps this long, she might be some actress after all.

→ 15 Comments Tags: , , , | Filed in: Daily

15 responses so far

  • 1 11-12-2009 at 1:11 pm

    Aaron said...

    Like you said, Angelina Jolie had the drive and the passion to be a great actress. She made Playing by Heart watchable, for chrissakes, which is no small feat! I don’t see that determination in Megan Fox. She’s content to be whatever she is, which is kind of hard to pinpoint. She’s just there. A pretty, famous girl.

  • 2 11-12-2009 at 1:17 pm

    snowballa said...

    why would anyone want to pay 15 dollars to see a performer who isn’t convinced of what she’s doing is correct, megan?

    i like reading her articles more than most because she does say some truthful things about how hollywood spins the whole madonna/whore complex, but it would be nice if she had some good roles underneath her belt to justify her being labeled an actress. after karyn kusama, she was the second worst thing about jennifer’s body.

  • 3 11-12-2009 at 1:32 pm

    Terry Shull said...

    She’s an enigma all right. Or maybe she’s not and she’s just a semi-talented boob shot trying to make herself mean more to an industry that sells sex yet rewards art. Hmmm. Well – here was my take in July…

  • 4 11-12-2009 at 1:33 pm

    geha714 said...

    The difference is Angelina has it and Megan doesn’t.

  • 5 11-12-2009 at 1:35 pm

    Encore Entertainment said...

    Good God Guy, I know you’re no fan of Angie. I would not call her GREAT actress; but I believe she is a ‘good’ actress. Her film work is not stratospheric, but she has turned in some very good performances. And at that age that Megan now she had done Gia and that TV movie with Macy so I really don’t see Fox reaching her in terms of quality as an actress. Popularity, perhaps…but that doesn’t say much.

    Just my two cents, I’m a fan of Jolie and I don’t think the comparison between the two is strong.

  • 6 11-12-2009 at 1:40 pm

    Jim T said...

    For some reason, I want to like her. At first, I was kind of annoyed by that “the new sex symbol”. I was like “Why not focus on good actors? Forget sex symbols.” But I don’t know. I want to give her a chance. She might never be a great actress but I would enjoy watching a pretty face like that playing decently in a good movie.

  • 7 11-12-2009 at 1:49 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Encore: Funny, I thought I was being quite complimentary towards Jolie in the article.

  • 8 11-12-2009 at 1:58 pm

    Mike said...

    I love Megan. Not only is she perversely hot, got shitload of charisma she doesn’t self-censor herself in interviews and always speaks her mind. It is so refreshing.

  • 9 11-12-2009 at 2:02 pm

    Marlowe said...

    I’m just curious, is there a second photo of Fox out there anywhere?

  • 10 11-12-2009 at 2:03 pm said...

    What movie made Angelina Jolie famous? As in, which movie blew up that made her such a famous actress? Maybe the “Tomb Raider” movies? She is NOT famous for being an actress. She is famous for being famous.

  • 11 11-12-2009 at 2:47 pm

    Jason said...

    This is the problem with Fox and her contemporaries: she wears her sexually outward which is never as enticing as someone who is sexually, but disguises it under an icy persona. It’s the difference between Bardot and Deneuve. It’s never really exciting when Bardot does something that’s supposed to be sexy, because she’s always acting sexy, while when Deneuve finds herself in a precarious situation it’s genuinly exciting. It’s just like what Hitchcock said, that the Monroes and such who let it all hang out will never be as enticing as the Grace Kellys or Joan Fontaines. Now I am aware that what I just said has nothing to do with her acting, talent or lack of, or the roles she gets, but it has everything to do with her appeal, and what Hollywood needs right now is not more serious well respected method actors, but some appealing stars, especially women.

  • 12 11-12-2009 at 6:07 pm

    Katie said...

    Umm, you have to work. WORK to get credit. Why don’t these people understand this?

    RESPECT MUST BE EARNED. Go work and stfu. Jeez.

    Her attitude of entitlement would be hilarious if it weren’t so annoying.

  • 13 11-12-2009 at 8:19 pm

    where the white women at said...

    Megan here’s some free advice. If you want to be seen as something more than eye candy than stop taking off your clothes for every Tom, Dick and Maxim that asks. Stop saying outrageous things just so that you can be called outrageous. Take some acting classes and when you’re done take a few more. Angelina may not be Meryl Streep but Megan doesn’t have an ounce of Jolie’s talent, hutzpah or mystery.

  • 14 11-13-2009 at 5:14 am

    Lina said...

    Angelina is famous for being famous? REALLY? I didnt know that. The woman has three Golden Globes, two SGAS awards and one freaking OSCAR. You win all those awrds by the age of 24 and you become famous, thats it.

    If Carey Mulligan wins that much awards in the next three years she will be famous, if Megan Fox wins that many awards in a afew years she will be HUGE. Hell if I win that many award I will be famous.

    Also Angelina can carry action films like Wanted and get more than 300mil in the box office worldwide, if any actor do this he/she will be famous. Angelina may be a big gossip item, but dont tell me that she isnt famous for her work. People still can name the film that gave her an Oscar.

    Can people do the same with Denzel?

  • 15 11-13-2009 at 5:29 am

    M said...

    Well she is terrible at acting, but still gets the roles. She should go to acting classes and then come back again, because no one takes her seriously including me. It’s how she chose to came in the acting world, that is screwing her over now.