A Victoria’s Secret model starring in a Transformers movie? Check and check. Gentlemen, meet Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, the lady who’s turning your adolescent wet dreams into reality.
This feature appears in Complex's June/July 2011 issue.
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley was looking for work while she was in college, so she applied for and was hired as a booker at a modeling agency. When she showed up for her first day of work, the agency heads immediately fired her as a booker and hired her as a model. Then the other models from that agency exploded.
A few years later Rosie became a Victoria’s Secret Angel, therebyentering the fantasies of millions of normal and weird men. Now she’s the female lead in Transformers.
Preparation, struggle, rejection? Bah! All jokes aside, the girl is friendly, silly, and easy to talk to. The 24-year-old Brit grew up on a farm, which goes a long way toward making someone totally normal…or completely batballs crazy. You draw your own conclusions, but at the photo shoot for this piece, she talked about killing chickens (normal, to us) and how she didn’t feel like she looked her best that day (batballs crazy, clearly).
Did you watch Transformers cartoons to prepare for your role?
No. I’ve seen the Transformers movies before, but I haven’t seen the cartoons or played with the toys. I grew up on a farm in the southwest of England. I think I had about two toys my whole childhood. I was in the woods, riding my bike and my horse.
Do you think Transformers role-play when they have sex?
Do I think they role-play when they have sex? [Laughs.] What, like Bumblebee and Optimus Prime? No! ’Cause there’s no lady Transformers!
Yes there are.
I don’t know. It’s not in the movies. They’re all males. No, I don’t reckon they do. I don’t think they have sex.
That seems like an unfair existence.
Well, I’m sure they find enjoyment in other ways.
How’s working with Michael Bay?
Michael was great. We shot a commercial in 2009 for Victoria’s Secret, that’s where we met. Then he sent me an email last summer. He said, “I’d like to put you on tape for this role for Transformers.” I figured it was going to be a small role, or an extra. I didn’t jump on the idea, but I believe you should always take a meeting, so I went to the casting and went on tape. A couple days later, Michael sent me a message saying, “We want you for the female lead, is that something you’d consider?” I met Shia that evening, then a week later I was doing a screen test, and two weeks after that I was doing my first scene. So it happened really, really quick.
Do you have any insight as to how that role opened up?
Well, the character Carly is Sam’s new girlfriend, and she’s a British girl. She’s a new character so I got to really put my stamp on it.
That’s a question for the filmmakers. I haven’t given it much thought.
Have you ever heard of Unicron?
Unicron? No. What is it?
It’s a Transformer.
Is it? Unicron! Don’t test me on Transformers!
Are you a fast runner?
Yeah, I had to get really fast for this role. We closed down all these major streets in Chicago. We shut them down for weeks at a time, and I had to run, a lot, and in heels.
Have you ever had to run for your life?
I had to run from a bull once.
No, on the farm back home, on Christmas actually. In the mud, in Wellington boots, and I was running fast.
Why was he chasing you?
’Cause he’s a bull! That’s what they do. You step onto their land and they’ve got their lady cows with them.
I had to! I jumped over a fence. [Laughs.]
What does your family farm produce?
My parents have [other] jobs. It’s just a small farm that we eat from. We don’t sell produce or anything.
But it’s self-sufficient?
Yeah, so it’s eggs, pigs, sheep, and chickens.
Do you get sad when it’s time to kill a chicken?
That’s good. There’s a disconnect in this generation about where food comes from.
No, I know where my food comes from. I don’t get sad ’cause you don’t build relationships with those animals. I’m a farm girl; there’s the pigs, that’s the dog that I play with and love, but it’s the pig that’s gonna be in the freezer next month.
Have you killed any of the animals?
I’ve shot a few pheasants and a few rabbits. I’m probably gonna be hated for that.
Why? Hunting is more humane than getting meat from factory farms.
Yeah, everything gets eaten on the farm. It’s where food comes from.
Have you ever seen a ghost?
Do you believe in ghosts?
No. I believe that there’s something else out there, but...I don’t know what I believe in. That’s a good question. I haven’t seen them and I haven’t met anybody who I would really trust telling me that they have. I believe in aliens...and spirits, but I’m not sure in what form a ghost would be.
Are you ready for a natural disaster?
No way. Are you ever ready?
You can prepare.
Do you know CPR?
All you do is press hard and deep between the nipples.
Really? And then blow, in the mouth? Or is that just a Baywatch thing?
Now they say to just do compressions. Have you ever met a Beatle?
Um. No. Not a Beatle, no.
Have you ever been to Buckingham Palace?
I’ve been outside it, of course. I’m English.
I’d like to go inside.
Yeah, I’d love to.
What is the line between high art and pornography?
When does a nude shot go from being artistic to being pornographic? I don’t know how to politely say it, but I suppose when you start to see the insides of the female or male. [Laughs.] But it’s all in the eye of the beholder, right?
I think that’s right.
It’s definitely porn if you’re picking up a porn magazine. I’ve seen a lot of nude stuff that’s art.
Do you have a good sense of humor?
Yeah, I think so.
Can you laugh at yourself?
Yeah, all the time. If you can’t laugh at yourself what can you do? I’m a walking joke! [Laughs.]
Do you have a horrible temper?
Yeah. I have a short temper.
It doesn’t take too much to set you off?
I only let my temper go off around people I’m really close to. I’ve never lost my temper at work, or in a social situation where it would be unacceptable. Those closest to me get the sting. I usually bottle it all up at work or at a place where I can’t release it, and then yell at my mum on the phone. [Laughs.] She’s like, “Um, OK?”
Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you were going to die?
No. But I went scuba diving for the first time in January. I went down 90 feet and I hadn’t done my PADI. You’re only supposed to go 40 feet without your PADI.
What the hell is a PADI?
That’s the license you have to have to be able to scuba dive. We were down there swimming with sharks and I thought, “What if I were to freak out right now?” Because it’s too far to get to the surface without oxygen. So that was pretty scary, but it’s also what makes it so buzzing. But no, I don’t think I’ve ever had a moment where I thought, “This is it.”
Are you a risk taker?
Yeah. I like to think I’m realistic and sensible, but I take risks with a lot of stuff.
Are you a brave person?
I’d like to think that I’m brave. That’s a really wonderful personality trait to have. I would love to think I’m the type of person to go rescue someone.
Have you ever had a person offer a backrub as an excuse for contact?
Oh, that happens to me every day! [Laughs.]
Right, but how about on a date? Has an innocent backrub ever led to sex?
I don’t know if I’ve been on a date, but I’ve had guys say that as a chat-up, or a pickup line.
Does the backrub offer ever work?
No! [Laughs.] Pickup lines are not the way to get to me.
Did you have to learn that crazy model walk when you started your career?
No. You know who taught me to walk? Two Jamaican gay guys, who I lived with for a brief time in London when I was 16. One was a model and one was a model agent. They were called Humphrey and Donin.
Were they the best walkers you’ve ever seen?
Gay men are usually pretty good at the model strut.
No, I never fell on the runway, but I had my shoe fall off a few times. I had my top fall off. [Laughs.] Just wardrobe malfunctions. I might have tripped once or twice, but I never fell over, thank God.
Can you do impressions?
Yeah, I can do impressions. I can do an Australian accent. I can do a good Southern accent.
Let’s hear it.
[Beaming.] Hi, Ms. Rosie, y’all lookin’ pretty today. Y’all better be eatin’ up in New York City.
Used to be better!
There’s such a hierarchy in the entertainment world. Do you see people mistreating each other?
Of course. There are a lot of power trips. There are a lot of exploded egos.
It’s probably hard to resist if you’re making a lot of money and people everywhere are catering to you.
That is one thing I’m really thankful for. I’ve had nine years of working before this kind of movie happened to me. I’m really glad I’ve had struggles in my career. When success finally hits you, it helps put things in perspective. We’re so small. You see these kids get success straight away or they grew up with it, and I feel for them ’cause how do they gauge any sense of reality?
Do you make a conscious effort to stay grounded?
Absolutely. I come from a farm in the middle of nowhere in England. You have to remember where you come from and who you are.
In modeling, does it take time to become comfortable with your body?
Well, it’s a day-to-day thing. I don’t feel comfortable in my body today at all. Any woman will tell you she has her good and bad days, and today I did not feel like I looked my best or felt radiant inside or outside.
You looked pretty good to me.
WATCH THE BEHIND-THE-SCENES VIDEO:
(PROP STYLING) Justin Allen. (HAIR) Yiotis. (MAKEUP) Kathy Jeung. SECOND, FOURTH & FIFTH IMAGE: Vintage dress by Azzedine Alaia from New York Vintage / Earrings and rings by Neil Lane. THIRD & ELEVENTH IMAGE: Dress by Suzy Turner / Earrings and rings by Neil Lane. SIXTH & COVER IMAGE: Blazer by Julien MacDonald / Earrings by Neil Lane. SEVENTH & TENTH IMAGE: Dress by Emilio Pucci