Anthony Ramos and Director Steven Caple Jr. on Adding Their Cultures to 'Transformers: Rise of the Beasts'

Complex caught up with Ramos and Caple about choosing the right leading man, the pressures of taking on a franchise film, and their experience filming in Peru.

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Creed II director Steven Caple Jr. left the boxing ring behind for an even bigger adventure. Caple is directing the upcoming Transformers: Rise of the Beasts film, which is the seventh live-action project in the Transformers universe, and it arrives in theatres on June 9, 2023. 

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts will take audiences and the Autobots on a ‘90s adventure around the world and will take place in different parts of Peru and New York City. The film will introduce a whole new breed of Transformers known as the Maximals as they join the existing battle on earth between Autobots and Decepticons. The first teaser trailer for Caple’s film arrived on Thursday, Dec. 1, and gives a glimpse into the action-packed and star-studded experience that fans who love these movies are in for next year.

In the trailer, the special effects already look out of this world, and Notorious B.I.G’s “Juicy” serves as the song in the background, as a clear reminder that these characters and this story are taking place in ‘90s Brooklyn. “You definitely go to a movie theater to get a sense of wonderment,” Caple tells Complex in a recent interview. “But now that we’re on the screen more and getting this bit of our culture on the screen and embedded within this genre has been crazy for this film itself.”  

In April 2021, it was announced that Anthony Ramos would star as the lead Noah, alongside Dominique Fishback as Elena. With Caple at the helm, he was intentional about the diverse casting in order to reflect the moviegoers who have continuously supported these films over the years. “The people on the screen should reflect how we are and who we are as people, especially this generation,” the director adds. 

And the rest of the cast is equally stacked with incredible talent, including Pete Davidson, Tobe Nwigwe, Peter Cullen, Ron Perlman, Peter Dinklage, Michelle Yeoh, Liza Koshy, Michaela Jaé Rodriguez, Cristo Fernández, and more. Some of those stars will be lending their voices to the Autobots, and Caple previously revealed on Instagram that Davidson would be voicing Mirage and Yeoh will be the voice of Airazor.

Rising of the Beasts is taking us back to the Transformers world for the first time since 2017’s The Last Knight and taking us back to the films that have captured moviegoers around the world since 2007. Complex caught up with Ramos and Caple about choosing the right leading man, the pressures of taking on a franchise film, and their experience filming in Peru. Check out our conversation, which took place ahead of the trailer’s release, below. 

What do you think it is about the Transformers movies that make people just flock to the theaters to see them? And why do you think it’s important to see these kinds of films on the big screen?

Steven Caple Jr.:
Oh, well all right Anthony Ramos, I’ll let you answer that. You’ve done more than me.

Anthony Ramos: I mean there’s a movie about these fantastical alien robots from another planet. They do all these amazing things. They’re larger than life and I think there’s something exciting about seeing larger-than-life characters on the big screen because that’s what we go to the movies to see. I think there’s this escapism that we get when we go to the movies that Transformers and these kinds of movies give us. We get to see a depiction of the world that in a way, it’s a what if? “What if the world was like this?” kind of way to watch a movie.

There’s an excitement for me ever since I was a kid watching a movie like that. And then we get to see these characters. We relate to Bumblebee and Prime and we get to know them and they have these personalities and we feel like we relate to them. Then there’s the human element and how they connect to the robots and I think that’s what makes these movies so special. And not to mention the special effects and the cool stuff that they do in post and the crazy fights and all that.

SC: And how we’re in there. So that makes a whole difference as well. To your point about the depiction of reality and stuff, I think you definitely go to a movie theater to get a sense of wonderment to everything Anthony was saying. But now that we’re on the screen more and getting this bit of our culture on the screen and embedded within this genre has been crazy for this film itself. We take place in the ‘90s, we’re in Brooklyn, New York, which Anthony claims to be from. [Laughs.] So we got to do our background check on him. But just to have that on a big screen mixed with little places like Peru and Machu Picchu, it’s extraordinary. And we got a chance to visit that and get out of our own comfort zone and actually shoot there. So to bring that to the big screen so people can experience that, I think that’s huge, especially through our lens.

You have chosen a very diverse cast and you already talked about that a little bit, but was that intentional and what does it mean for you to be able to have that control to bring these characters to life but to represent a whole new generation of people?

Yeah, no I think it feels like I’m just in there with my family, you know what I mean? One, it’s just the vibe of energy on set. But two, I love to surround myself with people that I’m constantly talking to in my everyday life. And so again, trying to blend in this sort of reality to this big scope, it’s like all right, the people on the screen should reflect how we are and who we are as people, especially this generation. So, the casting could just like, I don’t want to say begun, but we just started leaking out stuff. 

We also have Peter Dinklage, who’s an extraordinary actor. He’s playing one of the voices. People don’t even know that. So we are allowed to put that out there now to the universe. We have MJ Rodriguez. So we have a really amazing cast that people don’t even know but it’s just a taste. And so I’m really excited to really get the word out there but also see what they bring to the film. It’s just super important making sure that we’re on there.

Steven, there have been six films prior to this one. Were there any nerves or pressure that you felt going in?

Oh man. Yeah. Plenty, always, every day. It’s six films, everyone has their favorite. Crazy enough, I’ve been in this situation before in the Rocky franchise where it’s like got Rocky 1, you got Creed I. How are you going to step up to the plate? And honestly, it all comes back to being yourself, finding your voice, and putting it on the screen. I feel like I’m very drawn to these films and these franchises because there’s something that pulls me in and this case it’s the—you kind of nailed it, Ant—it’s that blend of humanity and robots like this super alien sort of species outside of our universe connecting with us this human sort of element to it. 

So blending those two and then finding the emotions in that felt like the real challenge. I don’t want to lose that. And that’s kind of what I was drawn to the cartoons back in the day and I feel like I really brought that to life in this one. Beyond the action and the scope, you’re going to get all of that and big fight battles, but that heart is there.

Anthony, we’ve seen you go from Broadway to musicals to drama and now we see you as an action star. How are you feeling about your career trajectory so far?

It feels amazing. It feels good. I mean I love this stuff. I was just talking to someone today and just talking about how grateful I am for these opportunities I’ve been given. And I don’t feel like I’m going to work. We’re working, we’re working hard, but I am genuinely grateful to be there every day. 

I have grown a deep love for action movies, especially while I’m able-bodied and I can do this now, I’m like, “Yo, let’s jump off of— let’s do everything.” I want to do everything. I want to do as many stunts as I can. I want to get physical. I want to incorporate that, challenge myself, and my craft. I feel like this was the next level when Steven gave me this opportunity and I’m grateful to him and grateful to everyone else who gave me this shot. I really got to push myself. Push myself to a crazy limit on this one. I love action movies.

SC: He’s done a lot of the cool stunts, I’ll vouch for that. You’ve done a lot of your own stunts.


You were actually in Peru filming this. Can you talk a little bit about that experience? What was it like to film this movie there?

Well, for me it was overwhelming. To your point, there’s so much beauty down there and the culture and we’re trying to make sure we get as much of it as we can. If there’s just one picture. I would say it was beautiful, the people were beautiful. We got the people speaking Quechua in the film, the whole nine. So we really went deep and without spoiling too much, we got to see some really cool locations and actually shoot in locations that have never been shot before. One of them being Machu Picchu, which we’ve heard films weren’t even allowed there. So it was a challenge because you have 30-foot robots and things of that nature and you’re like, we can’t even put down a techno crane or anything. You can’t bring equipment up. So we had to really be on our toes and really try to plan this out to really execute this thing.

Luckily it was during COVID so it wasn’t massive people there because there are a lot of tourists that come to Peru because it’s such a beautiful place. But I think we really sort of captured the spirit of Peru in many ways. And I can’t wait for people to check it on the screen. It’s truly some breathtaking visuals. We were there on a day on set and there’d be moments where we’re at four o’clock in the morning getting ready for a shot and we’re looking at each other as the sunrise over the mountains and we’re like, “This is crazy. We’re actually here.” We never visited, let alone just to be there for our first time there, we’re shooting.

What about you Anthony? How did you feel being down there?

It’s special. I mean it was special. I think Peru is a very deeply spiritual place, you know what I’m saying? And again, to Steven’s point, being able to shoot a Machu Picchu where almost no one has ever done anything there. And we got to tell our story there and having the blessing, we did a ceremony with a shaman, and we got our production blessed. We really wanted to come in there with open hearts. We wanted the people to know that “Yo, we’re here, we’re on your land, we want to be a part of your story and we want to tell your story in the most authentic way. And so please like we come here humbly and we ask you to guide us and you help us through this process.

I know there are robots in our story, but there’s again, at the core of it is the heart of the story. And Peru itself and the people and the culture and everything about it is such an important and pivotal part of our story. So I’m grateful to the people of Peru. They were so beautiful and so supportive and amazing. I mean we did a scene where we threw a parade and I’m talking about we did take after take after take and just the commitment, yo. Right Steven? 

SC: We had people from different regions come to this parade, actually true regions. And so it’ll be like a float dealing with agriculture, people from the Andes, and the whole nine. So they were all spread out and they were all kind of repping where they were from during the parade. Playing music, there was food there, and the whole nine. So they were truly portraying and showcasing how they would sort of celebrate. So you just had a line of the parade, it’s in the film. A huge festival that was, we were capturing each sort of region and what they were proud of and what they represent and spiritually what they were connected to. So again, we haven’t seen that on screen before. So it was really cool to capture that. And they were working like crazy. We were shooting for hours. It’s cold. High altitude. To them it was nothing, but to us, we couldn’t even breathe walking down the street, but they were dancing on top of a float and yeah, it was crazy. Crazy experience.

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