Robot in Disguise: Dr. Zahi Hawass

When director Michael Bay (Armageddon, The Rock) and his enormous production team were shooting Transformers II he managed to persuade the great Dr Zahi Hawass, the most famous of Egyptian archaeologists, to support his request to the Egyptian Government. That request was to film at the Giza Pyramid complex and allow some of his actors to actually climb a pyramid!

The rare exception was made for the Robots in Disguise at a time when computer imagery is becoming so powerful on the big screen that its nearly impossible to spot CGI in films that dont intentionally spell it out for you.But of course nothing but the authentic locations will do for a Hollywood budget.

Some things certainly had to be shot in digital though. Bay said, “Dr Hawass did put his arm around me when I introduced him to Shia and Megan and he said, ‘Young boy, don’t hurt my Pyramids!’ I didn’t actually tell him that the top was going to come off one of them – digitally!”

So did the ever-interesting Michael Bay seem more worried about damaging the Pyramids or just damaging some of his more expensive A-list-ish cast?He went up quite high, he says talking about actor John Turturro, I think he is careful enough.The one I worry about is Shia [Labeouf] because he is always very adventurous.He is a kid and does stuff and I tell him not to because he will hurt himself.Kids feel they are invincible.

If you believe reports then Dr Hawass, the Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities, is a big Transformers fan which is kind of cool if you think about it.His official website certainly seems to be proud of the fact that he offered permission to the production the first time anyone has been allowed to shoot on the pyramids in around thirty years. According to film producerLorenzo di Bonaventura, the shoot was highly secretive for security reasons: “A crew of 150 Americans and several dozen local Egyptians ensured a remarkably smooth shoot.” Although how secretive it could have been with 80ft-crane shots and helicoptersis anyone’s guess.

The first Transformers film grossed $700m worldwide and Bay is on record as saying of the franchise, I could see myself doing a third. I just want to take a year off from doing the third. Well see how the second does.So, who knows?Maybe the Autobots could drive along the Great Wall of China, or Shia and the crew could descend on Machu Picchu or Chichen Itza?