When he’s not battling CGI Decepticons, actor Shia Labeouf can be found playing PC games or Xbox 360 online. With his $200 million movie, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, opening June 24, LaBeouf pulled double duty, working with Activision to fine-tune the second Transformers videogame experience. In addition to adding his voice work and likeness to the new game (co-star Megan Fox also went virtual), LaBeouf told the game makers what he did and did not like about the original game. One new feature that resulted from these conversations was the new online gameplay. LaBeouf talks about his love of videogames, what he played on set, and why he prefers Civ IV to Wii in this exclusive interview.What videogames did you like playing growing up?
Mortal Kombat, Doom, Donkey Kong, Sonic the Hedgehog, Mario Kart
What’s your favorite videogame memory from when you were younger?
I remember playing Mario Kart with my Dad for the first time and this is after years of my Dad just s****ing on videogames. Just like you’re a loser. Finally, after playing Mario Kart, my Dad looks over at me and says, “I like playing as the mushroom.” That’s all he had to say. It’s one of those memories you remember for the rest of your life like when your Dad uses a cell phone for the first time or text messages you for the first time. That type of stuff. Yeah, I like playing as the mushroom.
What’s the last game that really impressed you?
Sid Meier’s Civilization.
You play everything including real-time strategy?
Buddy, I’m a gamer. Not just the fake ones you read about.
How much time do you spend gaming these days when you’re not acting?
Oh man, last night I spent all night playing The Godfather II game. It’s solid. I like that game because I like Godfather. I really like the map. My problem with Grand Theft Auto is the map is too large. It takes too much transit time to get into action. Godfather, it’s large enough to be interesting and have variety, but not too large to where you feel like you’re driving the whole game. Which is cool. In the first Godfather game the cars were too slow. In this Godfather game the cars move faster. Not that this is what we’re supposed to be talking about, but it validates my gamer cred.
What are your thoughts on Activision’s new Transformers game?
Just in terms of the variety of choices with the Autobots and Decepticons that you can play, the movie has been infused with a bunch of new faces and the game is the same world. A lot of the updates you have in the movie you have in the game, so it should be a better game.
Have you checked out the Wii Transformers game?
I haven’t been able to play the Wii game because my hand is broken. I’ve just been playing Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. I would imagine that the Wii experience will be like…I don’t mess with the Wii, to be honest with you. It’s kind of an amateur console. I’m not into the Wii thing.
What’s wrong with the Wii?
This is how in a simple way you can find out if it’s a gamer you want to play with. Ask them if they have a Wii. If they say yes, get the f*** out of there.
Is that why you wouldn’t play LEGO Star Wars with Megan Fox on the set of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen?
Correct. Who wants to play the Wii version of LEGO Star Wars. I’d rather eat glass.
So I guess you didn’t play LEGO Indiana Jones?
The LEGO Indiana Jones I’m not going to speak on, but my feelings aren’t very different.
Did you play any videogames on set?
We played Madden.
Who’s your team on Madden?
Giants. See, Ramon (Rodriguez) is big into sports games. I’m not necessarily. But to keep it copasetic on set you had to have a game for everybody. So of course there was LEGO Star Wars for Megan, which is fantastic and she could play that in solitude. Ramon loves sports games and I’m into Sid Meier’s Civilization. So we had all of it covered. Transformers is a cast of gamers. I’m not the only gamer. Literally, there’s nobody in the cast who doesn’t play games except maybe (John) Turturro.
What are your thoughts on the fact that kids today not only have the Transformers toys, but these cool videogames to play with?
Toys aren’t enough.
Do you wish you had these games when you were a kid?
I did have these as a kid.
But these games today are way better than what you had as a kid?
Yeah, but if you start comparing NBA Jam, for instance, 1998, hot title. And I put that up against Madden 08, I love NBA Jam. I’d take NBA Jam over Madden 08. If you were to ask somebody who grew up with Centipede to put that game up against Sid Meier’s Civilization, they’d probably go with Centipede. You don’t just enjoy playing the games. I know every theme song to every Super Mario game you can ever think of and I’ll sing them to myself. I’ll be in the shower and I’m not singing Bryan McKnight or Neil Diamond, I’m singing Mario Bros. songs: dee..dee.dee.dee.dee…deet. I swear to God, man. It’s weird. I have this special place in the lexicon of my information that is specifically game. I don’t think I’m alone in that. I think there’s a whole generation of dudes just like me.