To borrow a line from the theme song for the original Transformers animated series, adapted into a movie franchise in which she starred, there’s more than meets the eye with Megan Fox.
While she was starring in that action franchise, and then the 2009 horror-comedy Jennifer’s Body, Judd Apatow’s This Is 40, 2014’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and more, Fox was becoming interested in things beyond the big screen — namely some of the world’s great myths and mysteries, subjects scientists and archaeologists are still investigating to this day. Now, she’s exploring those in a new Travel Channel series, Legends of the Lost With Megan Fox, and EW has an exclusive first look at the four hourlong episodes (above).
The first episode of Legends, airing Dec. 4, finds Fox traveling to Scandinavia and England to learn more about emerging theories that there were female warriors who helped the Vikings rise to power, feared from 790 A.D. until the Norman Conquest in 1066. In subsequent episodes, she visits Stonehenge to find out why the monument was built and get the truth about the stones’ reported supernatural powers; seeks answers about new finds along the Savannah River in the Southeastern U.S. that some say indicate there was a migration of gigantic prehistoric versions of Homo sapiens more than 13,000 years ago; and tries to determine whether the Trojan War actually happened, using Homer’s Iliad as a treasure map, along with high-tech data and discoveries in modern-day Turkey.
Below, Fox tells EW about her burning desire to explore, her personal experience visiting some of these locations, and the skepticism she faced when pitching the show to networks.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Aside from posting some photos on Instagram from when you were filming this series, I think many people will be surprised to learn that all these topics you explore are things you are genuinely interested in. Was that also a surprise to network executives when you started pitching the show? How did they react?
MEGAN FOX: Yeah, I mean, there was a general [laughs] sense of disbelief that this is something I’m genuinely passionate about. And then, depending on which topic and which thing we’re discussing, I can be quite knowledgeable on archaeology and antiquities, and I think that was also really surprising for people. And I think it was also something that was maybe a deterrent in pitching the show because everyone has the same question, which is, “Is an audience going to believe that you know all of this stuff?” [Laughs] They needed a formula and a format where it would be easily digestible by an audience member, so the way we ended up doing these four episodes is that I serve more as the avatar for an audience, where I’m asking the same questions someone at home might be asking if they were there, and that seems to work for what it is right now.
This really seems like one of your dream jobs.
Yeah. I’ve loved these subjects for a really long time, and I’ve been passionate about it for a long time, and to be able to create and executive-produce the show, which it’s my first time doing that as well, to be able to have the experience and traveling the world, but also building the relationships with some of these very important, key people who are involved in this industry that I want to have more to do with, was really exciting for me. In my future, when I look far into the future, this is a world that I want to be a part of, and so to be able to build friendships with these people is very beneficial, and I’m really grateful. I didn’t go and get a traditional education in archaeology or paleontology. [Laughs] So to be able to speak to some of these people and learn from them and have a relationship with them was really amazing.
Where did that passion come from? When did it start?
One of the only school subjects I was ever interested in was Greek mythology, and from there… I wasn’t a good student. I didn’t even really graduate high school; I went to correspondence school and got a degree, but I didn’t stay in school. I always had that interest — anything that involved mythology or antiquities or religious mystery, anything like that I was always really drawn to and interested in. And then I started watching this show called Ancient Aliens when I was in my early 20s and… there are so many good questions there that that show actually put forward, regardless of whether you’re an ancient alien theorist or not, and that opened my mind just to the point where I was going, “If I’m going to create a project for myself, why don’t I create a project in this vein?” Because this is what I love, this is what I’m interested in. So instead of working on producing a movie for me to act in, I’d rather do this.
And then I had a bunch of kids [laughs], and then I woke up one day and I was like — it actually started with a passion for a different sort of quest that we didn’t do in these four episodes — but I decided this is something that I needed to do and this is an area of my life that I needed to explore. And I started pitching the show!
These first four episodes, were these legends and locations all on your wish list? Or did producers determine the best and most feasible shoots first?
Me and producers, but also you’re making a show for a network, so the network has to be involved as well, so the angle on these four episodes… some of the things I’m interested in may be a bit more difficult, and the logistics would be very hard for a network to make a shoot like that happen, and maybe some of the locations are dangerous, so we compromised and found things that people would recognize. Everyone knows about Stonehenge, but there are new discoveries going on at Stonehenge right now that could change everything we’ve previously thought and known about Stonehenge. So that was the window in: Here are these things and topics you heard of before, maybe many times your whole life, but there’s new stuff going on, and here’s what that story is. One of my favorite episodes is the Vikings story, obviously, because for me it’s more exploring the patriarchy which still exists within the archaeological community and why it’s so difficult to accept the idea that women were something other than housewives at a point in our distant past. And also there’s an episode we did about Clovis spurs [tools used by people who are believed by some to be the first inhabitants of the New World, in what is now the Southeastern United States, more than 13,000 years ago] where we also touch on the idea of giants being in America, and that episode was my idea also because it’s something I’m really passionate about.
Stonehenge is such a special place. I found it to have this energy that I can’t really describe, and of course it’s this incredible wonder, but you’re left standing there with so many questions. What was your experience like there?
We woke up at 2 in the morning and went before it was open to the public, so we got there right as the sun was breaking into the sky. That added to the atmosphere, obviously, and it was misty and foggy and freezing, and it looked magical. But my feelings were actually ambivalent. It was interesting because there was a part of me that was overtaken by the size of the structure and you wonder how it was really done — we still don’t really have an explanation for that — and why was it done, but also I felt a sense of sadness almost, because standing there I felt like we’re a long way away from really understanding what it was. I was conflicted. [Laughs] It was overwhelming, but at the same time it was — this is going to sound like a Buddhist philosophy — but it was nothing. Does that make sense? It was all things and nothing at the same time. [Laughs] So that was an interesting experience for me. The archaeologist who was giving me the tour, he said that was kind of the same thing for him the first time he got there — it’s so expansive that it’s almost so abstract that you can’t feel anything at all.
So, having done this and pursuing something you’re so passionate about, getting to see things that not many will ever get to close up, how did your expectations and hopes compare with the reality of what you got to see and experience and question?
I’ve traveled before, just shooting — we shot the second Transformers at the Great Pyramids in Giza, and we also were at the Temple Karnak in Luxor — so I’ve traveled and seen some of this stuff, which planted seeds along the way of things that felt places I need to go back to or sparked interest. I’ve never made a TV show, so that was a brand-new experience for me. I don’t love being produced, that’s not one of my favorite things, so that was an interesting experience for me. But just overall, to have the opportunity to, like you said, see some of these things that most people will never have the opportunity to see, and I know and understand that I didn’t earn the right to do that — I don’t have the education, I haven’t put in the hours and time and I haven’t sacrificed for it, and it’s a privilege — and I don’t take that for granted at all. There are so many more places I want to go and things I want to see, and I’m just grateful that I have this weird opportunity for some reason, just because I’ve been in a couple movies. [Laughs] I don’t know, it’s hard to explain. But one thing led me to another, one thing led me into my passion, and they are seemingly not connected at all, but they were.
Check out the exclusive first look above, and tune in to the Legends of the Lost with Megan Fox premiere at 8 p.m. ET on Tuesday, Dec. 4, on Travel Channel.