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Interview: Anthony Ramos Talks ‘Transformers: Rise of the Beasts’ and Bringing Diversity and Representation to the Blockbuster Action Franchise

June 6, 2023Ben MK

With a legacy that has taken it from toy store aisles to multiplex screens around the globe, the Transformers franchise has proven to be as spectacular as the Cybertronian heroes and villains that have battled each other for the past four decades. Whether you side with the Autobots or the Decepticons, there's no denying the impact these robots in disguise have had on kids and general audiences alike. And now, the Transformers are back on the big screen for an all-new adventure that aims to relaunch the series for a new generation of moviegoers. Starring Anthony Ramos and Dominique Fishback, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts follows a new pair of human protagonists, as they join forces with the Autobots and their allies, the Maximals, to stop the world-devouring Unicron and his monstrous Terrorcons. But with Michael Bay's Transformers films having already set the precedent, does Rise of the Beasts rise above expectations?

I caught up with Anthony Ramos to chat about Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the movie's 1990s setting, and how it brings some much-needed diversity and representation to the long-running franchise.

You're best known for your singing and for your roles in Hamilton and In the Heights. What is it about the Transformers universe that made you want to be a part of this film?

Ramos: I love Maximals, man. And it was just the opportunity to get involved in a movie like this. First of all, I've been a fan of the franchise since I was a kid. Beast Wars was one of my favorite shows of all time. So not only getting asked to do this film and being a part of Transformers, but being a part of a Transformers [movie] that's gonna introduce the Beast Wars — that was insane to me. It blew my mind when I read the script. It just got me excited about what we could do with this franchise and how we could really expand it.

The movie is set in 1994, and so it's very much a love letter to that time period. As a child of the '90s yourself, was there anything in the movie that really took you back to your childhood?

Ramos: For sure, the music. The music, definitely. Nas and The Notorious B.I.G., listening to that soundtrack, it's just crazy. And also, the clothes, man. Sergio Tacchini [tracksuits], and rockin' the Jordans, windbreakers and baggy pants — all that stuff reminded me of Brooklyn, New York in the '90s.

Compared to the previous films, Rise of the Beasts features a much more diverse cast of actors. What has it been like for you, to be able to help bring a whole new level of representation to the franchise?

Ramos: It feels good, man. This is the seventh movie, but it feels like the first. It feels like a new thing. And it's awesome to be able bring this new flavor. To have me, being Puerto Rican, have the opportunity to be the leader of this movie. I don't take it for granted. One of the first things I said to [director] Steven [Caple Jr.] was like, "Yo, we gotta incorporate all the culture. We gotta get the Puerto Rican flag in there, we gotta get the jokes in there, like [the stuff] we'd probably say in our house." I sent him pictures of my mom’s apartment that I grew up in. I was like, "Yo, this is what it looked like." Especially New York being a big character, too. He was like, "Yo, where should we shoot the car chase scene?" And I'm like, "Let's shoot it on the Williamsburg Bridge. That would be epic." I used to cross that bridge to go from Bushwick to Manhattan, so it's just really cool to bring all of that — this diversity and this diverse cast. That's what the world looks like, and this is a movie for the world.

Last but not least, I have to ask about Rise of the Beasts’ ending, which I'm sure will have moviegoers talking, and where the Transformers franchise goes from here. Can you comment on that?

Ramos: Yeah, that was Steven's idea. Steven was like, "Yo, [it's] already [been done] in the comics. We gotta do it. We have to do it." And I just couldn't believe it man, I was so excited. I was like, "Are you all really about to [do this]?" It's the first time we see that. And [there are] so many places to go now.

Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is in theatres June 9th.

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