‘Transformers’ stars Isabela Moner and Santiago Cabrera are thick as thieves. The actors share South American roots, and also share the experience of working on one of the year’s biggest movies Transformers: The Last Knight .
Both shine in the film’s massive action sequences. They bring warmth and humanity to a robot-laden world. You’ll find yourself rooting for them – even though Santiago plays an at times heartless mercenary. Can’t choose who you love, you know?
They sat down to talk about working with director Michael Bay and bonding on set while promoting the film’s DVD release on September 26, 2017.
Isabela you brought a lot of soul to this role. What did you do to prepare? Were you drawing from your personal life?
Isabela Moner: I already felt like I had a prior connection to these guys, mostly because I grew up watching it. Every actor has that thing that they do to access that dark space where you can just cry on command. I can tell you right now they weren’t fake. They weren’t fake tears.
Santiago Cabrera: They didn’t seem fake. They didn’t look fake, they felt very real. Very authentic.
Santiago your character transforms over the course of the movie. Is it weird playing a villain? You don’t strike me as the villainous type.
Santiago Cabrera: It’s great fun. It’s easy to sort of justify in my mind because he had instructions to follow and also he didn’t know the full picture. So I love that he had a journey in the movie, because you want characters that kind of go through something in a film. So I like that he had his own arc in the movie and it was nice to see that that came through. I liked that part of it.
I saw you have a background play futbol. Did you bring that into the action scenes?
Santiago Cabrera: Yeah I’ve been quite athletic because of that. Real navy seals worked with us. Me and Josh were training with those guys pretty much every morning before set. And just being around them, talking to them and getting tips from them really helped create that military side of the character. I’d say that’s what my work went into; sort of finding out about that world which I wasn’t so knowledgeable about. So that was great. And to share with these guys was amazing.
I heard you two in particular have a really strong bond.
Santiago Cabrera: We do. Her mother’s from Peru, I’m from Chile. We all spoke Spanish on set.
Isabela Moner: We’re neighbors.
Santiago Cabrera: So it’s nice to have that. You’re on a Transformers movie and suddenly you’re seeing a neighboring South America country.
Isabela Moner: You’re automatically a little more friendly, I’m not gonna lie. (laughs)
Santiago Cabrera: She was very difficult. (laughs)
Isabela Moner: It was nice working with you, too. (laughs) Obviously he’s really humble, really cool. A really cool guy. I wish I could’ve done the entire press tour with you.
Santiago Cabrera: Yeah it was a shame I missed a lot of that. But you guys did a great job. I watched them from a distance.
Isabela Moner: He has a baby boy to take care of. I don’t have anything to take care of. I have homework.
There are obviously some big action sequences in this movie. But you’ve done a little action before. Was this next level for you? Or was it easy or old hat?
Isabela Moner: A lot of it was imagining. But Michael Bay likes to do as much as he can before actually putting CGI Transformers in. He’ll make sure the camera shakes a bit to create that rumbling effect. He’ll make sure every single bomb is placed correctly.
Santiago Cabrera: The pieces are there. The cars are there. They’ll have the face of the robot. They break up and they’ll have pieces around. And you’re in real locations as well. You’re not in a studio. There was some studio, but when you’re in the studio they build the whole ship. And then we’re in Stonehenge. You’re outdoors. You’re on the racetrack. So it feels very real as well. And Michael loves Detroit because he’s allowed to blow up a lot of stuff there. We were in the old Packard plant which was in a couple of his movies already. It’s so great. It’s this abandoned car plant full of old cars and just this run down building. That early sequence where she’s running around…
Isabela Moner: Where I save the boys.
Santiago Cabrera: And my team panic that there’s kids in there…See I’m not such a bad guy in the movie. (laughs)
Isabela Moner: But after you worry about kids you kill my best friend.
Santiago Cabrera: I didn’t know it was your best friend.
Isabela Moner: It’s fine. I’m over it, ok?