The real reason why Hollywood dumped Megan Fox

Michael Bay's first Transformers movie turned Megan Fox into an instant star. Men's magazines couldn't get enough of her, and directors rushed to cast her in their action blockbusters and indie passion projects. Then she hit a snag when she ruffled the feathers of Steven Spielberg via her feud with Michael Bay. With that major Hollywood strike against her, Fox went on to a dismal streak of box office bombs, failed-to-launch projects, and critically skewered performances.

As a result, Fox can still be found playing second fiddle to CGI creations a decade after her debut. Outside of the running-on-fumes Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise, her box office prospects have been pretty dire of late. So what happened to the actress for whom the "Maxim Hot 100" list was basically created? What caused her tumble from the A-list? Find out below.

She publicly fought with Michael Bay

Fox's feud with her Transformers director is well documented, but the pair actually go all the way back to 2003's Bad Boys II, which featured Fox as a bikini-clad extra at the age of 15. When Michael Bay cast Fox opposite Shia LaBeouf in 2007's Transformers, she was a star on the rise with some modeling and television credits under her belt. (She reportedly had to wash Bay's Ferrari as part of her audition for the role of Mikaela Banes.)

By the time Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen rolled out in 2009, Fox was a mega-star and reports of tension between the actress and Bay had surfaced. Fox took shots at the special effects-heavy (and critically reviled) Revenge, telling EW, "People are well aware that this is not a movie about acting." Most infamous of all was her quote in Wonderland Magazine, where Fox said of Bay, "He wants to be like Hitler on his sets, and he is." (She also compared him to Napoleon, but the Hitler reference naturally grabbed all the headlines.)

She was fired from Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Bay told GQ that Fox was part of the rehearsal process for Transformers: Dark of the Moon early on, but seemed disinterested, and that Hitler comment didn't exactly earn her any brownie points with producer Steven Spielberg. Bay recalled, "[Fox] was in a different world, on her BlackBerry. You gotta stay focused. And you know, the Hitler thing. Steven [Spielberg] said, 'Fire her right now.'" (Spielberg denied saying this, but we imagine Fox comparing Bay to Der Führer didn't sit well with the director of Schindler's List.)

Fox was canned from Dark of the Moon, and a new love interest—played by Victoria's Secret model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley—was written for Shia LaBeouf's Sam Witwicky. Fox, for her part, said it was her decision to leave the franchise. Still, the damage was done.

She's difficult to work with

It isn't just Bay and Spielberg who've taken issue with Fox's attitude towards the franchise that made her a star—Dark of the Moon screenwriter Ehren Kruger said she "seemed like an actress who didn't want to be a part of it. She was saying she wanted to, but she wasn't acting like it."

Following Fox's Hitler comment, crew members on Revenge of the Fallen came to Bay's defense and blasted the actress, calling her a "grump" with "little interest in the crew members around her." While Fox's critiques of Bay's sexist directing style are valid, she didn't exactly come out of the Transformers films smelling like roses.

Jennifer's Body was a box office bomb

Fox's follow-up to Revenge of the Fallen seemed like a sure thing. Written by Diablo Cody (Juno) and directed by Karyn Kusama (Girlfight), the horror comedy Jennifer's Body was a low budget affair that attempted to build off Fox's growing star power by putting her front and center in the marketing campaign. But reviews were mixed, and the R-rated film earned a mere $6.8 million on its opening weekend.

While Fox isn't totally to blame for the film's failure (it didn't exactly help the careers of anyone else involved), its lackluster reception offered additional proof that the actress couldn't open a movie unless she was starring opposite a CGI robot.

Jonah Hex didn't help her box office clout either

Released before Warner Bros. and DC Comics started rolling out the DC Extended Universe series of movies, 2010's DC-derived Jonah Hex was a critical and box office disaster. As proof of how much easier men have it in Hollywood than women, star Josh Brolin has continued to work steadily in acclaimed film after acclaimed film. But for Fox, the film's failure was as damaging to her big-screen career as her character's corset was to her internal organs. She now openly admits Jonah Hex was a turkey, saying in 2016 that "no one should ever see that movie."

She was in a howlingly bad Mickey Rourke movie

On the heels of the Transformers movies, Fox made a stab for indie cred with Passion Play, a 2009 drama from writer/director Mitch Glazer (Rock the Kasbah). Despite a cast that includes Mickey Rourke, Bill Murray and Rhys Ifan, the film was critically reviled and only played in a handful of theaters before being dumped to DVD.

Critics lambasted the film, which featured Fox as a carnival freak with angel wings who also conveniently looked like a model, for its pretentious script and over-the-top performances. The movie was so bad, even Rourke slammed it, dubbing it "another terrible movie" on his résumé. And Mickey Rourke knows from terrible movies—dude was in Wild Orchid, after all.

She became seriously overexposed

Around the time of the one-two career sucker punch of Revenge of the Fallen and Jennifer's Body, the Megan Fox backlash started in. The combination of the rottenness of her movies and her appearance on every late night talk show, magazine and clickbait photo gallery caused serious Fox fatigue.

It got so bad, several men's websites called for "A Day Without Megan Fox" boycott. When even is tired of seeing Fox in various states of undress, something is definitely off.

Her solo comic book movie never happened

Fox has been linked to a number of would-be franchises over the years, including a film version of the '90s "bad girl" comic Fathom. Created by the late artist Michael Turner, Fathom revolves around an aquatic heroine named Aspen, a part Fox had hoped would lead to her own solo comic book franchise.

But the project stalled, with Fox admitting in 2014 that she may be getting too old to play the twentysomething character, and with so much of the film set underwater, "unless James Cameron is going to direct it I don't know how we're going to make it happen."

A third TMNT movie is iffy

Fox eventually made nice with Bay (apparently time and money heal all wonds) and returned to franchise filmmaking as April O'Neil in the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot. It was a box office hit, becoming the highest-grossing film featuring the heroes on the half shell.

But the sequel, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows, grossed half of what its predecessor made worldwide and received a lackluster critical and fan response. With the prospects of a third outing seeing less and less likely, Fox is without a blockbuster movie franchise for the second time in her career. Maybe it's time to convince Bay to bring Mikaela Banes back for the umpteenth Transformers sequel. Shia LaBeouf could also probably use a surefire hit right about now.

She's a victim of typecasting

Fox has frequently discussed the difficulties of being typecast as nothing more than a pretty face. Starting out as a model, Fox has rarely been given the chance to show off her acting chops. Even when she's taken roles in smaller films like the Ed Burns dramedy Friends With Kids, her looks are still what reviewers focus on. Since most of her films inevitably lead to Razzie nominations, Fox hasn't garnered many opportunities to flex her acting ability.

Comedy could be her second act

Fox has found success in recent years by taking supporting roles in comedies where she can tweak her aloof, glamorous image. She showed off her comedic chops with turns in This Is 40 and The Dictator, and joined New Girl as a regular cast member in 2016 while star Zooey Deschanel was on maternity leave. (Critics have credited Fox with breathing new life into the long-running Fox series.) Meanwhile, her role in the upcoming James Franco period comedy Zeroville proves that there's life after Bay for Megan Fox.