Tyrese Gibson on 'Transformers' and the Hollywood hustle

By Tatiana Craine

The Decepticons are back… with a vengeance.Kids across the nation grew up watching the sometimes hokey, always entertaining cartoon “Transformers.” In 2007, blockbuster director Michael Bay directed the live-action film adaptation of the cherished cartoon series. The film was riddled with robots, explosions, eye candy and humor. Overall, “Transformers” was received well by audiences as a rousing sensory experience-the perfect summer blockbuster.

Two years later, Optimus Prime and the gang are back to battle the Decepticons in Egypt. Yes, Egypt. This time around, the Transformers are revealing secrets about their origins hidden within the Egyptian hieroglyphs. Dorky-but-lovable Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) and Mikaela Banes (Megan Fox) stir up their sizzling on-screen chemistry again. Meanwhile, Captain Lennox (Josh Duhamel) and Master Sergeant Epps (Tyrese Gibson) return donning their military garb and kicking robot rears.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with “Transformers” star Tyrese Gibson about his role in the film, and how he manages his sundry roles in the entertainment industry. Gibson has been in the industry since he was a teenager, first starring in a Coke ad before becoming a Calvin Klein model. Later, he released some hit hip-hop albums before being cast in the 2001 film “Baby Boy.” He skyrocketed to fame after “2 Fast 2 Furious” and “Transformers.” Gibson is currently focused on his acting career, but he’s also delving into a new realm of the entertainment world-comic books. “Mayhem,” his original comic, will be released later this summer.

Tatiana Craine: You started your career pretty young as a model, eventually branched over into music and now you have a few blockbuster hits under your belt as an actor. How has that evolution shaped your career, and are there any particular aspects of your career that you’ve absolutely loved?

Tyrese Gibson: You know, no two days are the same. I would say that, you know, people always say it’s a jungle out here. But the problem with most people’s careers is that they’re swinging from the same vine. And so I told people all the time, they should have never let me get into show business because I’m not going back to Watts [Los Angeles, California]. You know, like, I’m not going to be broke and damn near homeless ever again. [. . .] I’m going to go from one thing to the other, and figure out a way to stay relevant so people can call me back. So I love what I do; I love all of these opportunities. And you know, a lot of these opportunities are created from just being at the right spot at the right time, you know? It’s all about hustle, you know what I mean? If you sit back and say, I’m really good at this or I’ve got a degree in this and so these opportunities are going to come, then you’ll be waiting forever. You’ve got to get out there and hustle, socialize, be at the right spots and opportunities are created.

TC: What drew you to your role in “Transformers” as Sergeant Epps, and how do you usually make the decisions to play certain roles on films?

TG: Well, my title has been upgraded. I’m actually Master Sergeant Epps now.

TC: Oh really?

TG: That means I run the [United States] Air Force. I’m the youngest Master Sergeant there is, but I’m the Master Sergeant. One of the dudes on the set said, “Yo man, how are you the Master Sergeant? Most Master Sergeant’s are like, 50 years old.” I said to him, “Well it takes them that long to become a Master Sergeant because they’re fighting humans. I’m fighting robots, okay? I got upgraded, okay?” [Laughs.] You know, the way I pick these roles it’s not really me, you know? Honestly, I got a great team in place over at UTA, my agency. And you know, for me, I make the ultimate decision if I want to do it or not but they just approach me about great projects. And other times, I’m at the right spot, I’m at the right time and engaging in conversation and things just kind of happen. So you know, I’m not necessarily into doing films that are only box office huge-big huge box office films. I like the independent films, you know, I get to brush up on my acting chops and stay sharp. But these types of films are definitely fun.

“Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” hits theaters on June 24.