Pete Davidson, roll out! The ex-Saturday Night Live star has his biggest movie role yet — in terms of character scale, anyway — in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, the seventh entry in the film franchise based on Hasbro's beloved toy line of transforming robots. Davidson lends his signature vocal stylings to good guy Autobot, Mirage. Now you can see the actor rocking the recording booth mic in this exclusive clip from a behind the scenes peek at the box office hit, which will be available with the film's July 11 release on most Digital services.
"Pete Davidson be off the wall," Rise of the Beasts director, Steven Caple Jr., remarks in the clip. "When he came into the room, I had the script and I'm like, 'This is the direction we're going, but I want you to bring you to the table.'" That gave Davidson license to improvise many of Mirage's hilarious quips and banter with the film's robot (and human) cast.
Watch an exclusive clip from a Rise of the Beasts special feature available with the film's Digital release
As far as Davison is concerned, Rise of the Beasts may be his best performance yet. At least, that's what he confessed to Caple after seeing the film following its premiere in June. "He's seen the movie and he was like, 'It's the best work I've ever done, and I'm not really in it!'" the director tells Yahoo Entertainment with a laugh. "And I was like, 'True, true.'"
According to Caple, Davidson worked particularly hard on his alter ego's more dramatic moments in the film's third act. For most of the movie, Mirage is a happy-go-lucky kind of 'bot, not unlike the person voicing him. But during the climactic battle that pits the virtuous Autobots against the evil Terrorcons, the character has to make a difficult choice that impacts the human he has befriended and sworn to protect, Anthony Ramos's Noah Diaz.
Watch the Transformers: Rise of the Beasts cast and crew praise Pete Davidson's performance
"He hasn't really gone too dramatic," Caple says of Davidson, whose previous (human) performances include The King of Staten Island and Bodies Bodies Bodies. "So the more intimate parts towards the third act of the film were probably the more challenging stuff. That's the stuff we spent the most time on because we were both trying to figure it out."
While Ramos never acted opposite Davidson on set, he did hear his co-star's performance whenever he re-recorded dialogue during post-production and gives the actor a big thumbs-up. "I'd be dubbing my voice and watching our scenes thinking 'Pete is absolutely killing this right now,'" the In the Heights star raves. "He's so funny, and he's so New York. You could feel that Staten Island vibe from him. He's super-talented and perfect [for that role]."
But Davidson's casting wasn't guaranteed. Transformers producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura reveals that Paramount wasn't convinced that Davidson fit the profile for Mirage. "It was definitely a conversation with the studio," the producer remembers. "They were like, 'We've never seen him in something like this.' They were looking at it from the perspective of the role being voiced by a traditional comedian, and Pete's not a traditional comedian. That's what makes it feel unique."
Caple lobbied hard for Davidson's casting, and that enthusiasm won over Paramount. "I wanted an outcast and a rebel as an Autobot, and as we started looking at names [of actors], I saw Pete Davidson's face on a card one day, and I said, 'Pete Davidson feels like a rebel.' The studio thought it was an interesting touch."
To seal the deal, Caple convinced Davidson to audition for Paramount and says that he more or less won the part on the spot. "He just killed it," he says of that audition. "He was doing a little bit of ad-libbing and free-styling and we brought that into the movie as well," the director says. "When we were in the booth, he kept trying to top his jokes in the moment. Pete Davidson really did his thing as Mirage."
— This post originally published on June 8; it has been updated to include the new Davidson clip
Transformers: Rise of the Beasts arrives July 11 on most Digital services and October 10 on 4K Ultra HD SteelBook, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD