‘Transformers’ Optimus Prime honored at Hollywood’s famed Chinese Theatre

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What’s better than grossing $1 billion worldwide?

If we’re talking about the mega-hit feature film “Transformers: Age of Extinction,” the answer just might be obtaining immortality — in cement.

That’s precisely what happened today at Hollywood’s TCL Chinese Theatre, where Optimus Prime, um, cemented his place in movie history during a handprint-footprint-tire tread ceremony to coincide with the release today of the Blu-ray/DVD release of “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

Also on hand, and in cement, was the voice of the mammoth Transformer, veteran actor Peter Cullen.

In a phone interview, Cullen talked about his love for the character he has brought to life since its earliest cartoon days in the 1980s.

“Back in 1984 I went to a cattle call in Hollywood where actors had the chance to look at storyboards and see what this thing looked like,” Cullen said. “[In the end] I was auditioning to be a truck!”

Cullen knew nothing of the “Transformers” but took to heart some advice his brother Larry, a U.S. Marine captain, gave him just prior to the audition.

“My brother said, ‘If you’re going to be a hero, be a real hero. Don’t be a Hollywood stereotypical thing with the yelling and screaming. Be strong enough to be gentle.’ And that’s the advice I took with me into the [booth] where I started reading the script. I heard my brother’s voice and [the words] just flowed.”

The rest is Hollywood history. Cullen has gone on to voice Optimus Prime in all the feature films, including the latest directed by Michael Bay.

Though Cullen has also voiced other film characters such as Eeyore (From “Winnie the Pooh”) and The Predator in “Predator,” among others, his favorite remains Optimus Prime.

“I would have to say he’s my favorite because of the tremendous impact he’s had around the world,” Cullen said of the towering Prime. “He’s a positive character who stands for all the virtues of life.”

The DVD/BluRay combo pack includes an in-depth interview with Michael Bay about his approach to the film’s action sequences, a crash course on the “Bayhem” of being on set for the massive, global production, a revealing look at the design process inside Hasbro Headquarters, and more.

So what’s Cullen’s all-time favorite line of dialogue uttered by Optimus Prime?

“Hold on to your dreams,” Cullen said without hesitation, in that instantly recognizable booming Prime voice. “The future is built on dreams.”

Follow @MiriamDiNunzio


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