MEGAN FOX has been known to say a few things. She says she's a tranny, she says she's a bisexual, she says she has "the libido of a 15-year-old boy," she says, "Actors are the worst assholes to hang out with... they're either narcissistic douche bags or raging alcoholics," she says most men are "weak like puppies," she says she has her boyfriend's name tattooed "next to my pie." She says all these wonderful, crazy things, which are most often accompanied by pictures of her in bra and panties, with her pillow-plump lips provocatively parted, and then she goes on about her business like she's said nothing of interest at all, leaving delighted tabloid editors everywhere dancing in her wake. But why docs she do this? What's the point?
The theory usually posited is that she's a slut for attention and that her ultimate goal is some kind of freakish worldwide celebrity domination. If that's indeed the plan, so far, so good. At the age of 23, she's already been called the Sexiest Woman on Earth, already been asked to host Saturday Night Live, already can't step outside her front door without being hounded by the paparazzi. And it hasn't taken much for her to get here, a couple of crummy sitcom parts, a couple of crummy movie roles and a couple of huge Transformers movies, all of which called for less acting and more skin.
As it happens, however, the theoreticians have it all wrong, because no one is more dismayed by the current turn of events than Fox herself. Ever since she leaned over the hood of Shia LaBeoufs '76 Camaro in the first Transformers flick, in 2007, baring midriff and cleavage galore, she says she's been beset by fears of too much, too soon, too early, leading to far too much press.
"I'm really tired of being exploited and having everything I say sensationalized," she says one warm afternoon in L.A., looking typically radiant, if a little drawn and pensive. "It's an unbearable lifestyle."
And now there's Jennifer's Body, which probably won't help any. It's screenwriter Diablo Cody's first post-Juno movie, and it's basically just a teen-comedy slasher flick, with Fox's demon-girl character chowing down on her horny high school classmates. She's got a few quiet moments in it, but mainly it's a good-time exercise in blood lust and lust lust and an excuse to show more bared Fox flesh than any previous movie. It also features a tongue-filled girl-on-girl make-out scene with co-star Amanda Seyfried that even Fox has some issues with.
"Amanda was not excited about having to do it, but I went for it," she says. "Clearly I can't argue that it's not gratuitous, because it is. We both look like children, so it looks like crazy kiddie porn. There's no music — it's just silence and the sound of spit. I feel weird watching it. It was just really uncomfortable. I felt like I was witnessing something I'm not meant to see."
Subtle Jennifer's Body is not. Nor, in Fox's mind at least, does it answer the question of whether she has chops as an actress. "It's a cool movie," she says, "but I don't think anybody's going to walk away from it and go, 'Wow, she's really talented.' I don't think it will propel me to a different level. Even I don't know how much talent I have or what I'm capable of. At best, someone might say, 'She was different in this movie than she was in Transformers’ I did an OK job. But I don't see myself accomplishing something amazing with it."
In fact, you could argue that Fox's movie choices, all of which obscure nuance with the fancy fog of CGI, have been deliberately chosen. Next out is the apocalyptic comic-book Western Jonah Hex, and down the road she'll be swimming around in some sort of aqua-girl-type role. Maybe it's fear, but she sure does seem to be avoiding real parts in dramatic movies. Meanwhile, every day brings fresh examples of the kinds of things that have gotten her here so fast. "As far as girls go, I have a really badass personality!" she will say. Or, "I have a mouth, and I'm not afraid to use it!" Who says that kind of stuff? It's great. It's dazzling. It's enough to make you lose your head. Then again, maybe that's why Fox really says the things she says. Maybe they're all meant to obscure, too.
MOST OFTEN, SHE SLEEPS naked, with two pillows cushioning her head, another pillow pinned between her legs and a fourth pillow clutched to her torso. "I like to feel like I'm in a cocoon," she says. "I cocoon myself. I have to feel like I can't go anywhere." Most often, she's found sleeping with her off-again, on-again boyfriend, original-90210-actor Brian Austin Green, 36, though never all that closely. "I can't deal with the body heat," she says. "I'll spoon until it's time to go to sleep, and then I can't touch anyone while sleeping."
This morning, the TV in her L.A. home is on, tuned to TLC's What Not to Wear. Actually, the TV's always on, because that's another one of her things. "I'm afraid of the dark and can't sleep without it," she says. "Yeah. If there's silence and darkness, I can't sleep."
Fox says she had a dream last night. She dreamed that a dragon was eating people at a theme park and that she devised a plan to get out alive. "We covered ourselves in mud and crawled away, and the dragon couldn't pick us out," she says. "I don't know what that means, but it's interesting."
It's time to get on with the day. She showers, drinks a cup of coffee, brushes her teeth, paints her lips a bright juicy-tomato red, slinks into a very tight cream-colored dress and tries to put her dragon dreams behind her. Then she heads off to Santa Monica to take care of some Jennifer's Body business. Stepping out of her car at a hotel, she smiles for the paparazzi, who within minutes splatter her image across the Internet, and whisks herself in- side. Soon she's facing a bunch of foreign press, with the reporters all telling her how much they like her new movie.
Several hours later, looking just as glossy as ever, she finds herself sitting in a straight-backed chair, arms and legs crossed, and saying, Tin really insecure about everything. I never think I'm worthy of anything. Like what those reporters said about the movie, all I could think was, They're mocking me.'" She leans forward. "I have a sick feeling of being mocked all the time. 1 have a lot of self-loathing."
"Well, self-loathing doesn't keep me from being happy," she goes on. "I have a lot of things to be happy about. But that doesn't mean I don't struggle. I am very vulnerable. But I can be aggressive, hurtful, domineering and selfish, too. I'm emotionally unpredictable and all over the place. I'm a control freak. My temper is ridiculously-bad. I've destroyed the house. I go batshit. I've had to say to Brian, 'You have to go andstop talking to me, because I'm going to kill you. I'm going to stab you with something. Please leave.' I'd never own a gun for that reason. I wouldn't shoot to kill. But I would shoot him in the leg, for sure."
When she says this she's got a frown on her face, but her voice is sparkly and alive.
"It's crazy," she says. "It's not really healthy." And then she says, "It's weird. On most things, I am a contradiction even to myself."
SHE NEVER WAS LIKE THE other kids. For one thing, she developed early, got her period when she was just 10, developed breasts and started masturbating shortly thereafter. "I've always felt different and alien, and that only confirmed my suspicions of being strange," she says. In middle school, the older girls pelted her with ketchup packets and called her "slut" and "whore," for reasons she can't fathom, since she didn't lose her virginity until she was 17. "Anyway, it spread like wildfire," she recalls. "As soon as you're established as the weak one, everyone preys on you."
According to her mom, Megan's first three days of life were spent screaming, until she turned purple, freaking all the doctors out. Born in Oak Ridge, Tennessee — "where they assembled the atomic bomb," Megan likes to say — she spent her early years in tiny Rockwood, Tennessee, where her dad was a parole officer. Her parents divorced when she was three, but her mom soon remarried, to a much older man, and the family, which includes an older sister, moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida.
Her stepfather was a strict disciplinarian. As a young girl, Megan wasn't even allowed to decorate her own room; everything was picked out for her. She started having what she calls "panic attacks that manifested themselves as violent, rageful temper tantrums. Like where I didn't know how to control myself or what to do." At some point, she started seeing a therapist to try to deal with these "real emotional problems," but it didn't seem to help.
Outside of school, she spent most of her teenage years at home, grounded for an apparent inability to stop stealing the family car and taking it for joy rides. At one point, she was caught shoplifting Mary-Kate and Ashley cosmetics from a local Walmart — and was banned from the store for life. She had a mind of her own, and it could be devilish. One day, a classmate told her that this boy named Ben Leahy liked her. She was 15, he was a year or so older. She realized right away that she had something on him that could be put to use. Her thinking was, "He likes me, I win. Now I'm going to go talk to him and see what happens." What happened between them lasted for three years. She would sneak out of the house at night and go lie in the grass with Ben, looking at the stars. "I loved him," she says. "He was very sweet and wonderful, really tall and big with a perfect body, and he was a badass. I was totally drawn to him."
Acting was what she wanted to do, though. She'd started when she was five and by the age of 16 had appeared in several Florida-based movies, among them Michael Bay's Bad Boys II, as an extra in a club scene. Bay got her all dolled up in six-inch heels, a red cowboy hat and a Stars-and-Stripes bikini, then shot her dancing under a waterfall, soaking wet. ("So that's sort of a microcosm of how Bay's mind works," she said not long ago.)
One year later, she moved with her mom to Los Angeles, and two months later got her official start, playing Lindsay Lohan's rich-bitch nemesis in Disney's Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. She was still going out with Leahy, long distance, but he soon broke up with her. "She seemed to get wilder and more obsessed with making it," he said recently. "It broke my heart, but I had to let her go. She was way out of my league."
Then, in 2006, the Transformers gig came along. To Fox, it seemed like just another pinup role, playing second fiddle to a bunch of robots, but it wasn't long until everything she said became news — and until she became the only actress considered for the part she plays in Jennifer's Body.
Says Diablo Cody, "The first time we met was at a bar, and the moment she walked in, I knew she didn't have the typical starlet attitude where they're giggly and eager to please. She was completely herself — smart and quiet and sarcastic. I was smitten with her immediately. She's outspoken. She's dark. She has this femme-fatale quality. She's special. Actually, like most people, I'm a little bit obsessed with her."
LATER ON, THIS SPECIAL femme fatale is standing in front of a full-length mirror. Her hair, long and black, cascades across one of her shoulders, old-Hollywood, Veronica Lake-style. She turns sideways, wobbling a little on the stiletto heels of her chunky-trunk, Forties-inspired pumps, then faces herself. What does she see?
"I see myself," she says. "I see what I look like, but there are things that I like and things that I dislike. My hair is good. The color of my eyes is good, obviously — that's a trait I have. I don't have things that are hideous. I'm too short. I'm naturally more sturdy. But overall, I'm not superexcited about the whole thing."
"No, not superexcited." She laughs and starts pressing on her hair. "Do you know the show Obsessed, where the therapist makes people with OCD confront the fears that cause them to have OCD? That's what you're doing to me right now." She presses her hair some more, then notices what she's doing and stops. "Playing with my hair is a tic I have. I touch it when I'm nervous and uncomfortable. I get very fidgety."
She fidgets a bit more, then flees the mirror and doesn't look back.
MOST PEOPLE ASSUME THAT Fox wants to be the next Angelina Jolie and is mimicking her style to get there. Witness her alleged bi-sexuality and her eight tattoos. But, really, the actress Fox most resembles, in attitude and outlook, is not Jolie, but Sharon Stone, who once frightened the hell out of Hollywood by saying, "If you have a vagina and an attitude in this town, then that's a lethal combination." Like Stone before her, Fox has a few things to say about the power of her sexuality, albeit in a less crazy and more amusingly smart way.
"I was 12 when I first started getting a lot of stares and attention from grown men, and for a while I misused that power," she says. "When you see 16-year-old girls in really short skirts and stripper heels and shirts that say WHITE TRASH WHORE on them — I was like that. But it's not empowering. It's the opposite. It's taking power away from you. I was like Jennifer in the movie. She's just so lost in her sexuality. What you do is harness your sexuality and use it to control your destiny. Like, if a conversation with a guy is going somewhere I don't like, you can manipulate it and build a dynamic that causes that person to fear you sexually. You do it with men by making them feel small, and men usually feel small when they're attracted to someone."
She goes on, "And that's what can happen when a girl or woman is completely in charge of her sexuality and embraces the power of her vagina. It intimidates men — not all, but some. Men are scared of vaginas. And then when you give them a powerful, confident vagina, they're terrified. They don't know how to deal with it. Look, I didn't figure something special out here. I wasn't born with a special vagina. All vaginas are created equal. But as soon as you love your own, you're good. You're set."
She pauses again.
There's a long, uncomfortable silence. So: Jack Nicholson, would she ever? "Isn't he in his 70s? Oh, my God, no!" she yelps. Warren Beatty? "Absolutely not!" George Clooney? "He's still relatively young. But, no, I don't see that happening. Look, I can never have sex with someone that I don't love, ever, ever, ever. The idea makes me sick. I've never even come close to having a one-night stand. I'd be terrified. I wouldn't enjoy anything about it. I'm not sexually promiscuous. I've only been single for the seven-month period between my first boy- friend and the one I have now. I'm a serial monogamist. There's nothing about being single that I enjoy."
What does she like in a kiss?
"Sometimes I like gentle, respectful kisses, and other times I like really deep aggressive ones. I don't like it when there's a giant ring of saliva around your mouth. That shouldn't happen. You're miscommunicating with your mouths if you wind up with spit all over your face."
This is fun. Fox seems willing to go anywhere.
Like her Jennifer's Body character, has she ever drawn blood during — ?
"Sex?" she volunteers. "Ummm, well, that's a dicey question. Not with knives or anything, no. I'm not going to elaborate."
And then she sits there, stonily silent for the first time all day.
IT'S STRANGE, THOUGH, FOX REFUSING to elaborate. It would seem her whole life has been an elaboration of one sort or other. She coolly elaborates on rumors that she hooked up with Transformers co-star Shia LaBeouf during a cooling-off period with Green: "Oh, man, I'm not going to say that I don't love him or that I've never loved him or vice versa. But it was never on that level." She happily elaborates on why she likes to listen to Britney Spears on her iPod while flying: "Flying really freaks me out, but I know that it's not my destiny to die while listening to Britney." She freely elaborates on her opinion of 'Transformers director Michael Bay, tossing in some self-analysis for good measure: "To be h-h-h-honest with you, I really do like Michael Bay. He can be a total dick, sure. But he's talented." She stops, grins and explains why she stumbled over the honesty word. "When I can't get the word out of my mouth," she says, "it's usually a key that I'm not being honest."
OK, but back to sex and the drawing of blood. If not with knives, how about with fingernails?
"Um, nnna, umm, nnno," she says, beginning to squirm. "You've got to be with a certain kind of guy that will put up with that. Anyway, blood usually makes me sick. I can't deal with it. I can deal with cutting, though. That doesn't affect me as much as needles."
Has she ever cut herself?
"Yeah, but I don't want to elaborate."
Was she a cutter as a kid?
"No, I would never call myself a cutter," she says. "Girls go through different phases when they're growing up, when they're miserable and do different things, whether it's an eating disorder or they dabble in cutting." Her hands flutter. She says, "Most people do something along those lines."
What about an eating disorder, then. Has she ever had one of those?
She kind of snorts and kind of laughs. "Not that I want to talk about," she says. "If I did talk about it, I'd be taking on a role- model status, and I'd have to choose my words very carefully, and I'd have to make sure I reveal it in a specific way, and I don't want to do it."
Right now, a great big elephant is storming around the room. Can Fox see it?
"Yeah," she says. And she is perfectly content to leave it at that.
IF YOU EVER WONDER WHY FOX SAYS some of the crazier things she says, one thing to know is that not all of what she says is true. Historically, she has made still up "just to fuck with the journalists." Most recently, she did this with GQ, which ran a story titled MEGAN FOX WAS A TEENAGE LESBIAN! that told of a hot affair between Fox and a stripper named Nikita. The problem is, that affair never happened. Fox conjured it. "The writer was pressing me, so I started talking about Nikita, making it spicier than it was," she says. "It wasn't a sexual thing at all."
When Fox tells a story like that and the world gets a hold of it, however, it suddenly takes over and becomes all anyone wants to talk about. Fox has dissed Scarlett Jo — how dare she! Fox wants to eat Rob Patterson — how kooky! Fox has the hots for Olivia Wilde — right on! And amid all the dust-ups and drama, further inspection of the woman behind the words is lost — which, as it happens, is exactly why Fox does it.
"It's a struggle," she says. "What I really want is to exist without having to acknowledge my own existence. I don't want to share myself with the public. I want to deflect attention from my reality. So I create these other things that I don't mind handing over. I'm appeasing and guarding everything else. Does that makes sense?"
It does make sense. And she's good at it. At the same time, consider how she sleeps, with the TV on, her body all cocooned; and how her dreams revolve around dragons that will eat her if she doesn't cover herself in mud; and how "not superexcited" she is with her body; and how violent she says her temper is; and how she brings up cutting and eating disorders, then refuses to elaborate. She seems to be leaking a little of her true self, despite herself. Consider also why she became an actor in the first place.
"Actually, I haven't figured it out," she says. "I was drawn to it for reasons I can't explain." She goes on, "It's a masochistic process, because it's this horrible cycle of having to watch yourself or talk about yourself, when you hate acknowledging yourself, and it's really awful..."
She stops suddenly, pulling back once more, like she's revealed too much. Then again, maybe this is all part of her game too, in some ultraconvoluted psycho-Hollywood way. Is that possible? "It's evident when I'm on and in show mode and entertaining," she says. "And then there's me like I am right now, when I'm not trying to entertain you. Today," she says, "you are just talking to me."