Travis Knight’s BUMBLEBEE breathes new life into the TRANSFORMERS franchise. Michael Bay’s films emphasized the spectacle of the war between Autobots and Decepticons. BUMBLEBEE, however, is a more personal, intimate film. Don’t worry — that doesn’t mean there’s no spectacle, just that there’s more balance.
Set in the ’80s, BUMBLEBEE is based on the friendship between a young human woman and the giant robot she befriends. Director Travis Knight has assembled an all-star cast for the movie, with choices that blend experience and youth in a seamless combination. Here’s a quick guide to the stars of the film.
Hailee Steinfeld (THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN, PITCH PERFECT 3) plays Charlie Watson, a teen who winds up owning a beaten-up Volkswagen Beetle. She gets a shock when the new car turns out to be a robot in disguise.
Steinfeld was sold on the film because of a script that emphasized family and friendship, rather than focusing in on the spectacle of the previous movies by Michael Bay. December is a good month for the young actress; she’s also one of the main characters in Sony’s SPIDER-MAN: INTO THE SPIDER-VERSE, in which she voices Spider-Gwen.
Jorge Lendeborg Jr.
Jorge Lendeborg Jr.’s career seems to be going from one strong outing to another. Over the last few years, he’s had parts in everything from SPIDER-MAN: HOMECOMING to the brilliant LOVE, SIMON.
This is his first time as the male lead in a blockbuster, although so far little has been revealed about the role. We do know Lendeborg plays a character named Memo, who’s been described as Charlie’s “sidekick.”
In a surprising twist, Dylan O’Brien (TEEN WOLF, MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE) voices Bumblebee. It’s the first time the Autobot has been given a voice in the entire TRANSFORMERS film franchise.
Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura told IGN that the decision wasn’t made lightly. “Since we were approaching this as an origin story,” he said, “we felt that it was appropriate that you got to hear his voice. We really are resetting the mythology, essentially, of who Bumblebee is. And so, that seemed to us to be the appropriate [time] to get the chance to hear what he sounds like.” That said, there won’t be a continuity error here. Trailers have already made clear that the plucky Autobot will be damaged in a scrap early on, presumably meaning he loses the ability to speak.
WWE superstar John Cena has a key role in BUMBLEBEE. He plays Agent Burns, a Sector 7 agent tasked with bringing the Autobot in to the authorities. So far, trailers have made it look as though Sector 7 will be manipulated into working alongside the Decepticons, with Agent Burns going up against Charlie and her new robot friend.
Peter Cullen has long been associated with the character Optimus Prime. He voiced the Autobot leader in the original 1980s TRANSFORMERS TV series, and returned for the Michael Bay films. Fans were delighted to hear he would reprise his role in BUMBLEBEE. The choice is a good one, as this film feels like a love letter to that classic 1980s series. It wouldn’t be the same without Cullen.
Award-winning actor, writer, and director Justin Theroux, appears as one of the main villains of BUMBLEBEE. He voices Dropkick, one of the Decepticons hunting the Autobot hero.
Another high-profile win for the cast of BUMBLEBEE is Angela Bassett (BLACK PANTHER, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: FALLOUT). She provides the voice of Shatter, the second Decepticon agent on Earth to capture our Yellow hero.
David Sobolov is an experienced voice actor, having played Gorilla Grodd on The CW’s FLASH and LEGENDS OF TOMORROW, as well as voicing Drax in the animated GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY series. Here, he voices the villain who may be the most dangerous Decepticon on Earth – the airborne Blitzwing.
BUMBLEBEE transforms on December 21.