Actor Jack Reynor has admitted that weird age gap joke in Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction was “problematic” in hindsight.
The joke in question makes light of the gap between the ages of the film’s romantic leads. In the movie, Reynor played Shane, a 20-year-old man in a relationship with Tessa, a 17-year-old played by actress Nicola Peltz.
When Tessa’s dad Cade (played by Mark Wahlberg) objects to their relationship and threatens to call the police, Shane says it wouldn’t work under the “Romeo and Juliet law,” quipping: “We’ve got a preexisting juvenile foundational relationship, statute 2705-3”.
To which Cade replies: “Romeo and Juliet, huh? You know how those two ended up? Dead.”
The joke made enough uncomfortable rounds that Honest Trailers called it out (see clip below starting at 1:35) stating: “If only they had spent as much time justifying the plot as they did for having sex with a minor.” Ouch!
“I was 21 years of age, making this huge franchise film, and doing what I was told, because that’s kind of what you do when you get on one of those films,” Reynor explained, noting the joke wasn’t in the script initially.
“When you look at the culture of it now, especially given the advent of the #MeToo era, yeah, it’s definitely a problematic joke, but I’m not the writer of the film.”
The actor added that he didn’t think it was his place to call the less-than-stellar piece of dialogue out.
“I was a 21-year-old actor coming in from independent Irish cinema, and it didn’t really feel like my place to comment on what these guys wanted to do,” he said. “It’s their film and their responsibility, really.”
Reynor’s comments raise some interesting points about how the #MeToo movement has amplified existing protestations to age gaps between male and female leads (especially when romantic) and about what responsibilities actors have to object to problematic dialogue or content when they sometimes don’t hold the power in that context.