AUSTIN — After playing it safe in Nicholas Sparks weepie Safe Haven, Josh Duhamel lets it all hang out in Scenic Route, a new indie thriller premiering on Friday at the South by Southwest Film Festival, for which he was required to sport a mohawk.
“I was excited about [shaving my head],” Duhamel tells The Hollywood Reporter at the Driskill Hotel shortly before the film’s SXSW premiere. “The whole script was one of those things that I was looking for for a very long time, and the mohawk was just the icing on the cake. I would recommend one to anybody, because it makes you feel cool.”
Written by screenwriter Kyle Killen (Fox’s Lone Star and NBC’s Awake), the movie strands two best friends — played by Duhamel and Dan Fogler — in the middle of Death Valley, where they proceed to hash out long-simmering resentments. Dehydration under the desert sun quickly begins to go to their heads, and the two begin to act out in increasingly strange and violent ways (hence the hairstyle).
Duhamel adds that a crew member offered to adopt the hairstyle as a symbol of solidarity, and he was happy to do the honors.
“I grabbed clippers and a towel and laid it over the barstool, then he sits down and I start cutting a mohawk. Then they all started lining up — crew members and locals,” Duhamel says. He estimates about a dozen people discovered their inner Mr. T that night.
“She loved the mohawk,” Duhamel says. “My wife is very rock n’ roll that way. I’m surprised she’s actually with me, because I’m so square. She came up to visit and she was like, ‘Oh, my God.’ She was probably more excited about it than I was.”
Does that mean the baby might have a mohawk, as well?
“She would definitely be down for that. That’s already a bone of contention. We talk about names, and hers are a little bit more elaborate than mine,” he says.
The couple knows the baby’s sex, but Duhamel isn’t talking.
“She would have my balls,” he says. “No more babies.”
The happy news earned a congratulatory call from Michael Bay, who directed Duhamel in the first three Transformers films, and is currently readying a fourth. And while the franchise is looking to reboot — “They’re going younger,” the 40-year-old actor says — that doesn’t rule out a cameo.
“[Michael] said he wants to put me in it someplace. I don’t know if he was just saying that because he had me on the phone and he felt obligated or what, but you know what? I got to do three of those. It changed my career, it changed my life getting to be a part of something that big, so I’m grateful for even doing the first three of them,” Duhamel said.
He then politely left to meet Fergie for the film’s premiere.