The Most Overqualified Performances In The 'Transformers' Franchise
Vote up the prestigious actors who classed up the Transformers franchise.
After years of making testosterone-infused action films à la The Rock and Bad Boys, director Michael Bay decided there was “more than meets the eye” and re-launched the Transformers franchise in 2007, about two decades after the theatrical release of the animated Transformers: The Movie. The live-action films are, of course, based on Hasbro's toy line, comic book series, and animated series - which many of us either played with, read, or watched in the ‘80s and ‘90s. The films were bound to make money, and did they ever, garnering a combined box office gross of over $4.8 billion (it’s no wonder Bay has Bumblebee in his house) - a number that attracts a lot of attention from top-tier talent.
Unfortunately, while some franchises achieve both critical and commercial success, the Transformers franchise hasn’t fared too well on Rotten Tomatoes over the years. This is why it feels necessary to pay respect to people like Anthony Hopkins, Frances McDormand, John Malkovich, and John Goodman, who were, quite frankly, overqualified. Why Angela Bassett's significant talents were needed to voice a giant alien robot, we’ll never know.
- 119 VOTESPhoto: Transformers: The Movie / De Laurentiis Entertainment Group
When you're the director and star of arguably the greatest movie of all-time - not to mention directing The Trial, The Magnificent Ambersons, Chimes at Midnight, and Touch of Evil, and starring in The Third Man, among others - voicing a planet-sized robot in an animated movie based on a line of toys probably isn't the way you saw your film career wrapping up. Nonetheless, Orson Welles brought his trademark baritone to the role of Unicron in 1986's Transformers: The Movie, and decades later fans of the movie still remember his voice performance fondly.
Lest one assume he was simply slumming for the film, Welles was reportedly very gung-ho about his work; one person who worked on the film said Welles came onto the set and enthusiastically declared, “I'm playing an entire planet!” And in conversation with famed playwright Henry Jaglom, Welles made it clear he was up to date on not only his character but the other Transformers as well:
“I play a planet that is a robot that eats a planet of robots. The best robot is named Shockwave. He turns into a large gun. The other robot is named Megatron, he turns into a small gun, so Shockwave is better, he's the bigger gun.”
- 220 VOTESPhoto: Transformers: Age of Extinction / Paramount Pictures
The late Leonard Nimoy is a science fiction legend thanks to his role as Spock in the Star Trek franchise. That said, he also voiced Galvatron in Transformers: The Movie (1986) before returning to the franchise a quarter-century later to voice Sentinel Prime in Dark of the Moon.
Nimoy’s return to the franchise, let alone genre, was a big deal, and one would think he’d be the perfect person to voice the only known remaining Prime, who is wise, compassionate, and respected by everyone - including both Optimus Prime and Megatron. However, Nimoy’s reassuring voice got lost in the shuffle like so many others on this list.
- 330 VOTESPhoto: Transformers: The Last Knight / Paramount Pictures
As one of the greatest of his generation and yours, Sir Philip Anthony Hopkins is arguably one of the most recognizable actors on the planet. The man can make any monologue earth-shattering as seen via Oscar-winning feature performances such as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs or Anthony in The Father. Suffice to say, he basically needs no introduction.
Eerily similar to his seemingly omnipotent role in HBO’s Westworld, Hopkins played Sir Edmund Burton in The Last Knight - the man who knows all about Transformers and their history on Earth. Oh, and he just so happens to be related to Shia LaBeouf’s Sam Witwicky. Factoring in that scene where he shoots Megatron with a cane, Hopkins absolutely steals the show. Hopkins has said The Last Knight is one of the biggest movies he’s ever done and, while he’s amazing in it, the film might also be his worst.
- 419 VOTESPhoto: Bumblebee / Paramount Pictures
Angela Bassett was nominated for an Oscar, and she won a Golden Globe for playing Tina Turner in What’s Love Got to Do with It and an Emmy for playing other biographical figures like Rosa Parks, Betty Shabazz, Katherine Jackson, Coretta Scott King, and Voletta Wallace. More recently, she’s appeared in acclaimed blockbusters like Black Panther and Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
In Bumblebee, Bassett’s significant talents were needed to voice the Decepticon, Shatter, who is sent to Earth to hunt down the eponymous Autobot. While certainly one of the franchise’s most cunning, sadistic, and downright scary villains, it would've been nicer to see Bassett do her thing.
- 531 VOTESPhoto: Transformers: Dark of the Moon / Paramount Pictures
John Turturro has made a name for himself throughout the decades as one of the finest and most underrated character actors of his generation via roles in films like Do the Right Thing, Miller’s Crossing, Barton Fink, and The Big Lebowski. Most recently, he appeared as Carmine Falcone in The Batman, which granted him well-deserved attention.
Fifteen years ago, he made his Transformers universe debut as Chief Agent of Sector Seven’s Field Agents Seymour Rutherford Simmons - a character Turturro said he based on Michael Bay himself. After getting peed on by Bumblebee and having a smidgen of characterization in that first film, Simmons and his clip-on ties experienced diminishing returns in Revenge of the Fallen, Dark of the Moon, and The Last Knight.
- 635 VOTESPhoto: Transformers: Dark of the Moon / Paramount Pictures
Let’s just start by saying Frances McDormand graduated from Yale, and that’s not even remotely the most impressive thing about her. She’s also achieved the so-called triple crown of acting, having won four Oscars, two Emmys, and one Tony. That said, she’s the second woman in history to win best actress at the Academy Awards three times for Fargo; Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri; and Nomadland, behind Katharine Hepburn (eat it, Meryl Streep).
While her filmography includes many small-budget indie films, McDormand’s worldwide box office gross exceeds 2.2 billion, which was helped by her appearance in Transformers: Dark of the Moon - in which she played the overbearing Director of National Intelligence Charlotte Mearing. Again, McDormand was eccentric and demanding in the film. However, as a major protagonist, her role in a film unworthy of her talents is negligible compared to the rest of her indelible filmography. Granted, we barely remember that film at all.