Michael Bay says Bad Boys 'literally changed the game on Black actors'
For short, we call it "Bayhem" — director Michael Bay's busy visual style, loaded with explosions, slo-mo running, lens flares, and flurries of edits. But he also has a few signature camera moves, including that famous circular tracking shot around his actors, first established in Bad Boys, his 1995 feature debut. (Here's a fan-made compilation of several of those spinning shots.)
When EW asked Bay to describe the genesis of that shot, Bay went a little further, explaining the uphill battle he had making the first Bad Boys.
"Sony didn't believe in the movie, because two Black actors don't sell overseas," Bay says. "They had no faith in it. I was watching James Cameron's True Lies and I'm like, 'Oh, my God, this guy has so much money. I have only $9 million.' And they shut me down, literally. They shut the power off. That's how rude they were on this movie."
Bay recalls how, during a van ride, his circular-shot idea came to him in a flash. "I'm like, 'This is going to be the trailer shot.' For some reason, I just came up with this shot as we're driving. And I said, 'Where's the circle trolley? Get the circle trolley.'"
Starring Martin Lawrence and Will Smith, Bad Boys ended up hauling $141 million worldwide, with an impressive $75 million from international territories (ultimately more than U.S. audiences), a relative rarity.
"People try to imitate [the circular shot], but it was a seminal moment," adds Bay. "Bad Boys literally changed the game on Black actors. It's the first movie that really traveled overseas."
Read our complete extended interview with Bay here.
Ambulance, Bay's latest, is in theaters now.
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