Q. How did you get involved in this project?
A. My whole story with Transformers: Age of Extinction started at the end of 2012 when I was in New York shooting another movie and, as I had a 2-week break from filming, I flew to Los Angeles. And then, because Superstorm Sandy happened, I had to stay another two weeks and ended up meeting Michael Bay and going through the whole audition process in L.A.
Q. How was your first meeting with Michael Bay?
A. It was great! We sat down and had a long conversation, and I got along really well with him. I was obviously incredibly interested to be a part of this, so after leaving that meeting I taped myself a couple of times and then flew back to New York. And then on my last day there he called me to tell me that I had the part!
Q. What did you feel when you found out you had the role?
A. Well initially he told me that I didn’t get the part, and then he was silent for about 10 seconds and said that he was joking. So, my emotions were all over the place. It was an amazing feeling! Then it takes a long time to really grasp what you got yourself into. Actually, I still think it’s an on-going process for me…
Q. What excited you the most about being a part of a production of this magnitude?
A. Being part of a movie like Transformers: Age of Extinction is a shock to the system; but at the same time you have to rise to the challenge that is presented to you and grab the bull by the horns, which is what excited me the most about it. The only way to reconcile with what you are doing in a case like this is by just throwing yourself into it.
Q. Because you have never done anything like this before…
A. No, I haven’t. I come from the world of micro budget Irish films and then jumped into this, with a movie like Delivery Man in the middle that led up to it.
Q. Why do you believe Michael Bay picked you?
A. Apart from whatever he saw of me as an actor, I also believe we got along really well on a personal level. We saw eye to eye in a lot of things, and I think he just maybe liked some of my characteristics as a person.
Q. And what did you think of the script when you first read it?
A. It’s incredible to read a script for a Transformers film, because it is so technical. You can get half a page of dialogue followed by three pages of description of an epic battle going on between giant robots that you can’t really visualize. At the end of the day the only person who can clearly see it all is Michael Bay, which is amazing. That’s why I think he is the only person that can do it.
Q. And following up on that, what is it like to shoot those scenes in which you can’t visualize what you are fighting against?
A. Initially they are quite difficult, because you don’t have much to feed from; but Mark Wahlberg was no stranger to that world and was able to come in with great energy and help us.
Q. Who is Shane, your character?
A. He is a young racecar driver that lives in Texas, where he meets this girl he has a secret relationship with because the father doesn’t really have any interest in her having a boyfriend.
Q. But he ends up meeting him in extraordinary circumstances…
A. Yes because when Tess and her dad get into trouble I come in to rescue them, and from that point on it is disclosed that she is in a relationship.
Q. What do you like about Shane?
A. I like that he feels a bit displaced, as if he were kind of in a world he doesn’t belong in; but he has talent. And he knows he is the right guy for Tess, and he is determined to prove that to her father.
Q. That leads to some great banter with her father, played by Mark Wahlberg.
A. Yes, there is great humor and banter between them.
Q. And how would you describe his relationship with Tess?
A. They just really adore and support each other. It’s clear that my character will do anything for her and go to any length or cost to make sure that she is safe, and vice versa.
Q. How much action are you involved in?
A. The movie is non-stop action! There is never something not being blown up…
Q. So, how did you prepare yourself for a role like this?
A. First I spent a couple of months in Ireland training and trying to get into the right headspace, preparing myself physically and mentally, and then I moved to LA and joined a boxing gym. In the end I found out that the most important thing was stretching, because you have to make sure that all your muscles are warmed up all the time to avoid injuries.
Q. And how physically demanding was the shoot then?
A. It was incredibly physical. There are so many practical stunts in this movie, and Mark, Nicola and I did an awful lot of them! There was a lot of sprinting, climbing, hanging on wires…
Q. It must be fun to play a racecar driver…
A. Yes, because I have always loved driving too! But I came into this not knowing what stunt driving is, so to prepare the role I learned how to drift; but then it was very different on set, as it is incredibly technical and it all has to be perfectly timed. I had to drive a lot of different vehicles in the movie, so I just went for it.
Q. So, what can you say of Mark Wahlberg?
A. Mark is incredibly professional and always prepared for what he is going to do, and he is very generous. We got along really well.
Q. And how was Nicola Peltz –your girlfriend in the movie – like to work with?
A. Nicola is brilliant, and she was also very committed to what she was doing. We kept each other company and sane when we were shooting those incredibly long days, which I was very grateful for as well.
Q. Why do you believe Michael Bay is the right person to make these films?
A. Because he sees them and believes them. I’ll never forget the moment when Mark, Nicola and I had to run through this big explosion and immediately after Michael came to us, asked us if we were OK and then shouted, “That was awesome!”
Catch Transformers: Age of Extinction in local cinemas on Friday, 20 June 2014