Actor Jack Reynor is having a big moment now because of his role in the summer horror flick Midsommar. But, it’s his “problematic” part in 2014’s Transformers: Age of Extinction that he’s being asked to answer for.
In Age of Extinction, Reynor played Shane, boyfriend to Tessa (Nicola Peltz), who is also the daughter of Mark Wahlberg’s Cade. While many fathers have trouble with the guys their daughters date, Cade’s main issue with Shane upon meeting him and finding out that he’s dating his daughter is that she’s 17-years-old, while Shane is a grown man of 20.
Instead of either making Shane 19 or aging Tessa up to 18-years-old, Age of Extinction decided to include a scene where Shane supposedly explains to Cade (and the audience) why it’s really O.K. for these two to date. After Cade threatens to call the cops on Shane, he tells him that their romance is protected by Texas’ so-called Romeo & Juliet law, which states that since the two dated briefly when they were both still in high school they “have a pre-existing juvenile foundational relationship.” And, just so Cade knows this is a real thing, Shane pulls a laminated version of the law out of his wallet for show and tell.
Obviously, some folks still weren’t cool with this idea, and Jack Reynor has spoken about his thoughts on the matter during filming and now.
That wasn’t something that came up until we were in production. Initially, it wasn’t really in the script. Realistically, I was 21 years of age, making this huge franchise film, and doing what I was told, because that’s kind of what you do when you get on one of those films. When you look at the culture of it now, especially given the advent of the #MeToo era, yeah, it’s definitely a problematic joke, but I’m not the writer of the film. I was a 21-year-old actor coming in from independent Irish cinema, and it didn’t really feel like my place to comment on what these guys wanted to do. It’s their film and their responsibility, really.
As Jack Reynor noted in his talk with The Hollywood Reporter, the fact that Shane was 20 and Tessa was 17 wasn’t even originally a part of the story, so there was nothing for him, or anyone else involved to have second thoughts about until filming began. But, as he also told the outlet, he was young and making his first big Hollywood film after doing small movies in Ireland, and he did what most people in his position would likely do and simply kept his mouth shut when the age difference scene was added.
Reynor is probably very correct in saying that the advent of the #MeToo era absolutely makes people realize how the scene in question is “problematic.” Plus, a lot of actors now, even if they are starring in their first big movie, would feel more comfortable saying they have an issue with something like that.
I also think it’s pretty easy to agree with Jack Reynor’s bottom line on the whole situation, which is that he didn’t write the movie and it wasn’t really his responsibility to take care of the problem with Shane and Tessa’s romance. The fact that it wasn’t in the script at first really makes me wonder why the writers (or whomever made the decision) thought the age difference needed to be added at all. I’m sure they could have found another, less icky, way to created tension between Cade, Shane and Tessa.
Luckily, this Transformers: Age of Extinction relationship issue is unlikely to follow Jack Reynor for the rest of his career. You can catch him right now in the “traumatic” horror hit Midsommar.