Earlier, it was reported that two men, who are brothers, walked up to director Michael Bay and assaulted him. There are different accounts of what went down on the Hong Kong set of ‘Transformers: Age of Extinction’. One of the brothers apparently works out of a nearby, ground floor office and claimed the massive production has hurt his business. The pair demanded $100,000 HK ($12, 900 US) in damages/lost income. One went so far as to threaten to “inconvenience” the shooting. When Bay failed to pay up, the older brother punched him in the face, causing minor damage.
When police arrived, the pair got into an altercation with three officers. Eventually they were arrested and charged with suspicion of blackmail and assault. According to this report, Bay suffered mild injuries which halted filming, but didn’t require hospitalization, and filming resumed soon after the incident.
However, in a statement release by Paramount, there is a completely different story. According to this report, Bay was not injured when one man, who had earlier accosted other crew members attacked him along with others, using an air conditioning unit (!!!) as a weapon. The man appeared to be under the influence of a narcotic. He hurled the a/c unit at the director who ducked and escaped injury. In this version, Bay wrestled with the attacker until the movie’s security team subdued him. The man and two companions were arrested and filming resumed.
(This was the first day of filming in Hong Kong, after shooting in the US, including Michigan, over the summer.)
So what the heck is going on in Hong Kong? Both stories are pretty wild! As far as the first, I can’t believe two strangers would just be able to walk up to the movie’s director and demand money. (Or even to expect him to have that kind of cash on him.) This is especially suspect when you factor in that this was the first day of shooting, so how much business could the brothers have actually lost. But movie sets have security! But there were so many specific details, like the amount of money they wanted, that it helps make the story somewhat believable.
But the second tale, about a drug-crazed maniac slinging an air conditioner around, only to have Bay dodge it like Spider-Man and pounce on the guy (also like Spider-Man), while much more colorful makes me wonder if this is studio “spin”, an attempt to turn something negative into positive (and free) publicity for Bay and the film. Hmmm…
But that’s the official word and since none of us were there, I guess we’ll have to take their word for it. (However, if you were there, let me know. I want the juicy details!)
UPDATE: Michael Bay has issued a statement further clarifying the incident on his blog:
Hi, it’s Michael.
Yes, the story is being passed around is not all true! Yes, some drugged up guys were being belligerent asses to my crew for hours in the morning of our first shoot day in Hong Kong. One guy rolled metal carts into some of my actors trying to shake us down for thousands of dollars to not play his loud music or hit us with bricks.
Every vendor where we shot got paid a fair price for our inconvenience, but he wanted four times that amount. I personally told this man and his friends to forget it we were not going to let him extort us. He didn’t like that answer. So an hour later he came by my crew as we were shooting, carrying a long air conditioner unit. He walked right up to me and tried to smack my face, but I ducked threw the air unit on the floor and pushed him away. That’s when the security jumped on him. But it took seven big guys to subdue him. It was like a Zombie in Brad Pitt’s movie World War Z—he lifted seven guys up and tried to bite them. He actually bit into one of the guards Nike shoe, insane. Thank god it was an Air Max, the bubble popped, but the toe was saved.
Then it took fifteen Hong Kong cops in riot gear to deal with these punks. In all, four guys were arrested for assaulting the officers.
After that, we had a great day shooting here in Hong Kong.”