“Hollywood owes Megan Fox a big fucking apology,” tweeted a fan last June in response to a Jimmy Kimmel interview clip from 2009 that went viral after resurfacing. In the clip, Fox tells of being overtly sexualized in front of the camera at just fifteen years old, while Kimmel jokingly brushes it off. On YouTube, you’ll find videos racking up hundreds of thousands of views with titles like “Megan Fox Being Mistreated by Interviewers for More than Nine Minutes” and “Megan Fox Dealing With Creepy Paparazzi.” To say Fox deserves a big fucking apology is an understatement.
Fox’s early career, which budded during the early 2000s, was rife with movie roles that she says objectified and sexualized her at an age when she didn’t have the ability to advocate for herself. At the same time, she was grappling with the peak of paparazzi mania. Of course, the invasive and hypersexualized media behavior that Fox faced in those days was not exclusive to her—several of her peers such as Britney Spears and Lindsay Lohan were infamously mistreated by photographers and press in a way that feels criminal today. This voyeuristic desire to indulge in the failures of young women in Hollywood culminated in sexist interviews and headlines plastered across front pages, which are partly responsible for Fox’s exit from the public eye, and what she describes as a “genuine psychological breakdown.” She felt stripped of her autonomy when it came to her image in Hollywood, and sacrificed her career to protect it. “I had retracted from that kind of attention,” she says. “It had been so overwhelming and traumatic for me the first time around and I hadn’t learned how to process it or trust it or be open to it.”
Now harnessing her fame on her own terms, Fox is back and ready to take control of both her career and her image. “I think this was always coming,” she says, on the phone from her home in Los Angeles. Very early into our conversation, Fox begins drawing comparisons between her newfound freedom and quantum physics theories of consciousness and reality she’s studied. She’s calm, focused, and her tone is sharp—she knows exactly what she wants to communicate, and does so in a way that feels as if she’s putting pen to paper. “I just had to make this choice because our reality is a reflection of our consciousness,” she says. “For a long time I was making choices from a place of hurt or pain or suffering in order to hide or not be seen or not step into myself fully. I always knew that once I could get myself to let go of that belief system that wasn’t serving me anymore and get myself to a place where I was open, that discourse would follow, and this would be the result.”
Though Fox is opening up publicly again after being closed off for more than a decade, she admits there’s still a long way to go in terms of progress in our media culture. “I don’t sit here being of the belief that everyone’s ascended now to this new level of consciousness or that everyone’s transcended to this better place where we’re all more open and understanding and knowledgeable and loving,” she says. “That sort of archaic slut-shaming, mom-shaming, all of that still is pretty prevalent, at least for me in my experience.”
Fox’s resurrection has also reacquainted her with the harsh criticism that she once tried to avoid. What’s changed today is that she’s in a place where none of that matters. Her decision to resume her Hollywood career was one that began from within. “It’s a pretty obvious cause-and-effect. It started with my own mindset,” says Fox. “I was doing projects I was happy with, but I wasn’t ready to be seen yet.”
In the past year, Fox has gone from laying low to being catapulted back into the spotlight, with two upcoming films, a high-profile relationship with rapper Colson Baker a.k.a. Machine Gun Kelly, and some buzzy fashion moments, thanks to her collaboration with celebrity stylist Maeve Riley. From the provocative cutout Mugler moment at the 2021 Billboard Music Awards to her silky pink two-piece with bedazzled straps by Mach & Mach at the iHeartRadio Music Awards (one of Fox’s favorite looks as of late), it’s clear she’s having fun experimenting with fashion. “You have to understand how I was suppressed—all of the people who managed me were so afraid of me not being taken seriously as an actress,” she says. “‘Oh we’re fighting this uphill battle of people thinking you’re a sex symbol,’ so they were trying to dress me more seriously. I looked like I was always going to brunch somewhere and that did not represent me at all, so it’s nice to finally let that the fuck go!”
Working with Riley has given Fox the confidence to embrace her sense of style to the fullest. “I used to beg my other stylists for that. Bring me something that, when I’m on the carpet, it would be like, ‘Wow, that’s what fashion is about!’ It should be a talking piece. I’m brave that way, I don’t give a fuck if you like it, but you should be talking about it. Being boring and predictable and looking like every-fucking-body-else on the carpet was not something I was ever happy about.”
Fox and Baker prove their good-on-their-own-but-better-together relationship status by making a splash with their matching red carpet style. But beyond just serving looks together, Fox says that Baker has also helped her to step into her own when it comes to fashion. “That’s what’s going on inside of me, the way he dresses. He looks how I feel,” she explains. “When I was young I always had one really bizarre piece of clothing or some weird accessory that I would have on but it wouldn’t be a head-to-toe look, which is what he does! That sort of forced me to make different fashion choices because I do want our looks to make sense together.”
While Fox’s past fashion looks are admittedly forgettable, her presence in Hollywood has transcended generations. Currently, #meganfox has over 1.2 billion views on TikTok, and #jennifersbody (her cult 2009 film), has over 310 million views and counting. Perhaps it’s the image of Fox holding a lighter to her tongue in Jennifer’s Body that has become an iconic visual reference. Indeed, earlier this year, Olivia Rodrigo released her mega-hit music video “Good 4 U,” which replicates various scenes from the film, directed by Petra Collins, who photographed Fox for this issue.
Written by Diablo Cody and directed by Karyn Kusama, Jennifer’s Body follows nerdy Anita “Needy” Lesnicki, played by Amanda Seyfried, and her popular cheerleader best friend Jennifer Check, played by Fox, who turns into a boy-eating demon when a virgin sacrifice goes awry. The film, which Fox now cites as her favorite project she’s ever worked on, wasn’t well received by critics at the time of its initial release. “The movie is a trial to sit through, reminding us that just because something looks delicious doesn’t mean the taste won’t be rancid,” wrote one critic.
The film was clearly ahead of its time, and despite both male and female critics giving it a bashing for its take on female sexuality, it has become a cultural touchstone for the very reason that it grapples with the complexities of being a teen girl in a unique and jarring way. Sexual violence, friendship, beauty, sexual identity, and the power of the female gaze are all entwined in the film’s plotline to create a movie that diverts from the typical coming-of-age format for women. The film’s creators now agree that it was a poor marketing decision that salaciously sexualized the film to appeal to male viewers, which swayed critics’ reviews. “It was directed by a woman, written by a woman, and starred two women,” says Fox. “The fact that the movie itself was a discussion about the way women are sexualized in society…for the marketing to represent that exact issue is kind of necessary.”
When asked if her teen self was anything like Jennifer, Fox admits that she’s familiar with darkness. “I came into the world really bright and sunny and happy. However, at a certain point, I went through some trauma in childhood and I developed a pretty severe eating disorder and manic depression, which runs in my family, so there was definitely some wrestling with chemical imbalance going on.” She describes her younger self as loving, “but as I got into my early twenties, that hell-hath-no-fury, a woman scorned demon did rise up in me,” she says. “I did tap into that archetype a few times as well. That’s kind of what you see in Jennifer—that sort of nasty streak that can exist if you align yourself with that ancient energy.”
Back then and now, the genres of horror, thriller, dark comedy, and graphic novels are where she truly shines. Her latest project Till Death, released in July and directed by S. K. Dale, follows Fox’s character Emma, whose husband whisks her away on a secluded vacation where she awakens to find herself chained to his dead body in a not-so-humorous take on one’s partner weighing them down. “That area for me, because I love it, I’m always going to feel my best and give my best,” she says. Last month Fox also released Midnight in the Switchgrass where she plays FBI agent Rebecca Lombardi alongside partner Karl Helter, played by Bruce Willis. The crime-thriller based on a true story follows the detective team as they cross paths with the infamous “Truck Stop Killer” while investigating a sex-trafficking ring. Directed by Randall Emmett, the film was where Fox met Baker, who was cast to play a client whom she eventually fights while posing undercover as a sex worker.
In this new chapter, tapping into a higher self and maintaining positive energy is integral to Fox. “I developed it more after being in the spotlight because it was so difficult. Fame was so traumatic for me at that time that it forced me to dive deeply into different ideas and develop frameworks for what I believed existence is all about.” This awakening intensified when she had her first son with her now ex-husband, actor Brian Austin Green, who Fox has three children with: Noah, eight; Bodhi, seven; and Journey, five. “I had this undeniable, incredibly deep connection to him that was so intense that I was overwhelmed by my feelings for him before he was even born. It pushed me deep into astrology as one of those outlets because I felt like I was able to see what archetype I represented to him in his birth chart.”
The spiritual world is also a significant player in her relationship with Baker. “I think part of that comes naturally because our relationship is so karmic that our spirit, our souls, are so intertwined on that higher plane, a lot of it is handled for us by our ancestors and the spirits and energies that are watching over us.” Recently, Fox and Baker escaped to Joshua Tree National Park for a manifestation ceremony, following a trip to Costa Rica in May where the couple partook in an indigenous ayahuasca ceremony. “One of the things I put in my manifestation box was the word ‘surrender.’ I had intended it to mean any number of things, but we ended up being presented with a scenario that forced us to surrender right away.” Their car’s tire popped on route to their lodging, and with no spare, they had to tow the vehicle fifty miles to the nearest auto body shop. The couple proceeded to spend the weekend bumming rides and hitchhiking through the desert. “We had the best time!” says Fox. “We ended up having these really great experiences with strangers, which obviously, the two of us don’t get to do very often because of how our lives are and because you naturally become really guarded. That forced us to have no guard.” Her takeaway from the experience? “The obstacle is the way.”
When asked what the public gets wrong about Megan Fox, she says, after a thoughtful pause, that what bothers her most is people clinging to the narrative that she’s not an educated person. “I had always known that I was smart, so it was weird to have that one thing taken away from me now that I’m famous. When I was growing up, being smart was the only thing that I felt was a strong suit for me. I never resonated with being pretty or being popular, I was none of those things,” she says. “All of these other reasons that people recognize me, all of which I don’t resonate with or believe, and then to have the one thing that I do believe about myself be taken away, has been very challenging.”
“A mantra I’ve been repeating is that life is just a series of moments,” she says as our conversation comes to a close. “I’ve been in this moment that has been very proactive and rewarding both emotionally and spiritually. I’m really happy with this moment.” And that may just feel better than any big fucking apology possibly could.
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