WARNING: The following interview contains mild spoilers for Bumblebee, in theaters December 21.
Bumblebee is the first big-budget franchise film Christina Hodson has written, but you couldn’t tell from watching the movie. The story's quiet confidence and strong heart makes this the first installment in the live-action Transformers franchise to be driven by the characters and writing rather than the spectacle and explosions.
Ahead of its theatrical release, CBR got the chance to sit down with Hodson to talk about the core of the film, the real world connections between the characters and her own life, and how Bumblebee takes the meaning of “more than meets the eye” beyond a simple catchphrase to sell shape-shifting robots to kids.
CBR: What surprised you the most about working onBumblebee?
Christina Hodson: How much I loved it, honestly. It was just such a joy to write, I totally fell in love with it. I mean, I’d always kind of loved Bumblebee. He was always my favorite Transformer. It was wonderful writing it and coming into a big existing franchise, but also being given the freedom to kind of just tell this smaller, totally different story that didn’t have to tie into the timeline, that was a prequel. It was just fun, it was great.
For a giant transforming robot from space, Bumblebee himself has a lot of personality. Was there anything you found surprising about writing the character?
It was tough writing a character who’s non-verbal for most of the movie. Constantly throughout the process, I was trying to find ways of getting him to communicate, whether it’s through little buzzes or things like cocking his head and making little movements or gestures. Also, using all the music in different ways over the course of the movie.
It starts with just mood and emotion when she introduces music to him. It’s about conveying your emotions rather than using the lyrics – and then the kind of fun [moment] at the end of the movie where he’s actually using the words. That was just a fun thing to do. When I went into it, I was like, “this is going to be so hard,” and in the end, that challenge turned into one of my favorite things about writing it.