How Megan Fox Stopped Being Afraid and Learned to Embrace Her Life (Exclusive)

Megan Fox in December 2019
Rodin Eckenroth/Getty Images

The actress opens up to ET about her biggest life changes and going 'Rogue.'

Megan Fox, after months of sheltering in place here at home, has found herself halfway around the world in Bulgaria, where she is still cooped up indoors but with a group of girlfriends who -- at the moment -- are making her especially giggly. "It's 8 p.m. here. I'm not this excited at seven in the morning or whatever time it is there, just so you know," she clarifies by phone with ET.

Yet, she has reason to be. As the global film industry begins to reopen, Fox is among the first to return to work, first on a film in Puerto Rico then another in the Republic of Bulgaria. "It's been a long road of quarantine," she says, having self-isolated in Los Angeles to ensure she arrived in Puerto Rico COVID-free, and then again before flying to Europe. "I just got let out of quarantine here."

"I'm interested to see what happens once s**t starts hitting the fan and our feet are to the fire a little bit," Fox muses. "Once it starts getting tough, is everybody going to be as stringent with all the protocols and everything? I'm sure they will be -- that's the requirement. But it's a weird job. Like, I'm an actor. It's my job to be in a scene with another actor where I have to touch and kiss that person in the time of COVID crisis."

The 34-year-old weathered enough proverbial poo hitting the proverbial fan during quarantine, navigating a split from husband Brian Austin Green after 10 years and later becoming Instagram official -- to much tabloid tongue-wagging -- with rapper Machine Gun Kelly. After managing co-parenting and dating again amid a literal pandemic, she can face any uncertainty the future holds.

"My life changed so much during the quarantine. It's crazy," Fox says. "I'm not somebody who's ever done well with authority or being restricted by authority, so this has been really challenging for me. It's taught me a lot of patience, honestly, and I had to surrender. This is something I can't fight. I had to surrender to it and trust that the universe is carrying me."

In the meantime, Fox has a new movie ready for release: Rogue, a survival thriller about a band of mercenaries on a rescue op in Africa who must fend off a gang of rebels and one killer lioness when the mission goes awry. (Watch an exclusive clip above.) It's a genre Fox is well-versed in, having broken out in the Transformers franchise with turns in Jonah Hex and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In those, she was largely relegated to the sexy sidekick or damsel in distress, allowed in on the action to an extent but never truly responsible for saving the day. In Rogue, Fox is the hero -- battle-hardened soldier Samantha O'Hara -- of a female-fronted film within a genre that is still dominated by men. "I've been doing this for a while," Fox acknowledges, "and it's nice to see the change occur."

Director M.J. Bassett tells ET, "It was very important that [O'Hara] wasn't a sexualized female action character. I'm tired of seeing women going into combat situations in flimsy clothes and high heels (and I have been guilty of it myself on occasion)." She hadn't pictured Fox in the role, but when the opportunity presented itself, Bassett realized casting her would double down on what she wanted to do with the movie.

"Casting Megan was an additional attempt to subvert expectations of who she is perceived to be in the media. She's been an iconic sex symbol for so long now that I thought it would be really fun to try and do something different with her energy and image," Bassett explains. "She has a naturally compassionate, soft and youthful energy which is polar opposites of who the character is, and I think, in the end, it was really that challenge that drew her to come on board."

Fox agrees. She'd turned down countless military roles by the time Rogue came to her. "I was like, 'I would just never, ever be believable. I know I can't do it. I won't get the body language correct. I won't get the voice correct,'" she says. "I didn't have the confidence." This time, she felt compelled to push through since the challenge came with a great opportunity.

"I had a sixth sense Africa was going to change my life," Fox remembers. "I knew the universe was calling me there for some reason."

So she went. "And I had a huge breakthrough there." Well, first she had what she reckons was a full-blown breakdown. "And then immediately transcended into a higher space where I decided that I've lived so much of my life from a place of fear, from a place of making myself small," she reveals. "And I'm tired of doing that. I wanted to live a different way. I made that choice while I was there and I've been making that choice every day since then. And everything has changed."

There was the breakup. A new relationship. A string of new movie roles in Till Death, the horror movie she is shooting in Bulgaria, and Midnight in the Switchgrass, the crime drama she shot with Bruce Willis, Emile Hirsch and Machine Gun Kelly in Puerto Rico. ("I'm used to being around a lot of male energy," she says of the transition from Rogue.)

Fox says she is also feeling support in ways she never had before amid Hollywood's reckoning with its own shameful past. She previously told ET that she didn't feel she would be embraced by any of our current movements calling for gender equality and calling out predatory behavior against women. Those are topics she had been speaking out about for years only to feel silenced.

And she's still guarded about opening up too much. "Because honestly, some of my stories are horrific," Fox says. "I still don't feel comfortable sharing my real story. And honestly, I wouldn't anyway, because I'm not ever trying to take someone else down. It's not my place now -- all these years later -- to ruin someone's lives or try to throw them at the mercy of cancel culture."

"And I'm still not really sure to what degree I would be supported, because I'm going through some stuff right now where perceptions are still very misogynistic and sexist and one-sided," she points out. "For whatever reason, people are very trigger happy to call me stupid or call me vain or call me a slut, which is crazy. I was in the same relationship for 15 years, you know? It's bizarre, this image that gets projected onto me that people have just accepted and that's lived for over a decade. And that I never really did anything to earn in the first place."

Not that it ultimately matters what anybody else says about her. "I would never fill my brain with anything trolls have to say," Fox adds matter-of-factly. If it isn't already clear, she would rather put her stock in the universe -- and herself -- to create the life she wants. That started somewhere in Africa, a breakdown that became a breakthrough; now, it just is.

"My reality is obviously going to shift to fit my own belief systems," Fox offers. "When I stopped being afraid and I started embracing life and being excited about life, then my life became more exciting."

— Additional reporting by Desiree Murphy

Rogue is on demand Aug. 28 and arrives on Blu-ray and DVD on Sept. 1.