Birthdate: February 17, 1965
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, USA
Michael Bay (adopted name: Michael Benjamin Bay), the filmmaker behind the Transformers and Bad Boys series as well as high-octane action movies The Rock (1996), Armageddon (1998), and Ambulance (2022), is two things at once. Bay is one of this era’s most commercially successful producer-directors (with a total global b.o. cume of nearly $8 billion) and one of its most reviled by journalists: His movies average a poor score in the low-to-mid 40s (with individual movie scores as low as the 20s) on the web aggregator site of critical reviews, Metacritic.com, and he has been nominated twice by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists for the Sexist Pig Award.
Michael Bay’s first moviemaking gig was at age 15 as a storyboarding intern with producer George Lucas on director Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Certain that the movie would fail, Bay was surprised at the final results and determined that he would become a filmmaker. He studied cinema at both Wesleyan University and the Pasadena-based Art Center College of Design before launching a lucrative career as a music video and commercial director, winning multiple Cleo awards for his TV ads.
Across a decade and five enormously successful blockbusters, Michael Bay teamed with producer Jerry Bruckheimer for one of the highest-earning director-producer partnerships in recent Hollywood history. They included Bad Boys (1995), launching Will Smith’s career as a bankable movie star; The Rock (1996), starring Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage, and Ed Harris; disaster movie Armageddon (1998), starring Bruce Willis, Ben Affleck, Liv Tyler, and Billy Bob Thornton; his first-period movie, Pearl Harbor (2001), starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale; and Bad Boys II (2003), reuniting Will Smith and Martin Lawrence.
Working apart from Bruckheimer, Michael Bay’s output has been more erratic, with his subsequent four Transformers sequels from 2009 to 2017 increasingly bemoaned for their lack of narrative logic in favor of pure action spectacle. Nevertheless, Bay displayed an entirely different side to his filmmaking personality with the wonderful and underrated crime comedy, Pain & Gain (2013), starring Mark Wahlberg and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
While investing in businesses creating interactive media, the technologically-savvy Bay has turned his moviemaking attention to streaming as a producer in partnership with actor-writer-director John Krasinski (Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (2018-2019)) and with Krasinski on the successful A Quiet Place series, and also as director-producer on Netflix’s 6 Underground (2019), starring Ryan Reynolds. In 2022, Bay returned to the theatrical big screen with a typically brawny entertainment, Ambulance, starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Yahya Abdul-Mateen, and Eiza González.
Los Angeles-born Michael Bay was an adopted child, raised by Jim and Harriet (Markowitz) Bay, a bookstore owner and child psychiatrist. His cousin Susan is the widow of Star Trek star Leonard Nimoy. A graduate of Crossroads School, Bay attended Wesleyan University as an English and Film major and studied film as a graduate student at the Art Center College of Design. He had a relationship with sportscaster and ex-Playboy Playmate Lisa Dergan. He is not married and without children. His height is 6’. His net worth is estimated as of 2022 at $450 million.
Action Director in Training: Bay claims that his interest in action moviemaking began when he used his mother’s 8-millimeter camera to film a toy train that he set on fire with firecrackers, which caused an emergency call to the fire department.
Ouch: Michael Bay is a four-time nominee and two-time winner of The Razzie Award for Worst Director.
Double-ouch: Bay is a two-time nominee for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ Sexist Pig Award.
Dog lover: When Michael Bay participated in the traditional hand and footprint ceremony in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre, he planted the paw of one of his three English Mastiffs, named Rebel, in the cement. He donated his Bar Mitzvah money to an animal shelter. Bay frequently casts dogs in his movies.
Teacher’s Pet: Despite being a target of film critics’ snubs, Michael Bay was a favorite student of respected film historian Jeanine Basinger at Wesleyan University.
Transformational: Michael Bay directed and produced five Transformers movies, from 2007 to 2017.
Not a fan: Before he directed Transformers, Bay was not a fan or follower of the Transformers product and comic franchise.
Boys and Their Toys: Michael Bay has owned or currently owns two Camaros, a Ferrari, an Escalade, a Range Rover, a Lamborghini, a Bentley, and a Gulfstream G550 plane.