Next Big Thing: 'Transformers' Star Jack Reynor on His Risky Move to L.A. (Video)
The Irish-American actor, who stars in Michael Bay's bot reboot, came to L.A. with $40 and quickly landed a role in Hollywood's No. 1 franchise.
A version of this story first appeared in the June 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In 2012, Jack Reynor flew from Ireland to the Toronto Film Festival for the premiere of What Richard Did. Strong reviews encouraged him to continue to Los Angeles with only $40 in his pocket, lent to him by Richard director Lenny Abrahamson. Just three months later, Michael Bay cast him opposite Mark Wahlberg in Transformers: Age of Extinction (out June 27), which led to fall's Macbeth alongside Michael Fassbender. He'll follow those up with Irish indie Glassland and Girls' Night Out, a fairy-tale reimagining set during the celebrations marking the end of the Second World War.
Why did you decide to come to L.A.?
In Ireland, over the last couple years, it's been a bad economic climate. I was going through a rough patch, and my family was in a bad spot as well at the time. I spent eight and a half months with no work, and I was losing faith. After Toronto, I went to L.A., and I did an audition for a film called Starbuck. I'd spent $25 out of my $40 at that point. I got a call that Steven Spielberg watched my tape and loved it. That [project was renamed] Delivery Man, and that was the one that teed me up to come back out and meet Michael for Transformers.
Would you recommend other aspiring actors take that risk?
No, I certainly wouldn't. (Laughs.) That would be incredibly irresponsible of me. But I was really fortunate and I feel very blessed.
Transformers launched Shia LaBeouf. Have you learned anything from how his career has unfolded?
I just started my own production company. More so than trying to make money, I'm in it to fulfill my creative desires.
What movies did you grow up loving?
The first movie I really clicked with was Die Hard when I was 6 years old, which is crazy that I was watching it that young. That was the one that made me want to become an actor. As I've gotten older, my taste has expanded and matured a bit. I was always a big fan of Charlie Chaplin movies. I love The Great Dictator and City Lights.
Did you have experience with Shakespeare before working on Macbeth?
It was the first time I'd ever performed Shakespeare, and it was my first period film. Michael Fassbender is a really great guy and a fellow Irishman. He's very supportive of me and he's always full of great advice. I felt really confident in my ability after talking with him.
What are your plans after the Transformers premiere?
I've been working for a year and a half straight now. It's time for me to go home and spend some time with my family and just get back in touch with myself. You can overexpose yourself very easily, and you can burn out if you keep going and going. I'm making a very conscious decision to take a little time off, and then I'll head back to work toward the end of the year.
Your name came up in Star Wars rumors. Was there any truth to that?
Star Wars was something that I was definitely interested in. Whether or not I was really involved isn't something that I should probably disclose. In terms of doing another franchise after Transformers, I don't know if that would be best for me. I'm really happy to inhabit the world of independent film. I think for now one franchise is probably enough.
Born Colorado, raised in Ireland
Big break Irish pic What Richard Did (2012)
Reps WME, the U.K.'s MacFarlane Chard Associates, Sloane Offer Weber & Dern