Shia LaBeouf: CAUGHT IN A LIE &
Shia LaBeouf's first movie of 2007 is in theaters now, "Disturbia." But that's just the beginning. He stars in what Paramount Pictures hopes will be the biggest box office success of the summer, "Transformers The Movie," in theaters July 4th, and as the voice of Cody Maverick, in yet another animated penguin flick, "Surf's Up," also in theaters this summer. Wild About Movies first sat with LaBeouf right before the release of his Disney film, "The Greatest Game Every Played." We recently caught up with LaBeouf again, and are quite confident that the former child star, (yes, he got his break in Hollywood on the Disney Channel comedy "Even Stevens"), is, well, confident in his own skin. Today we bring you our interview with LaBeouf, where he talks about "Disturbia." Tomorrow, we have a separate interview with LaBeouf, in which he talks about the "Transformers Movie."
Shia Saide LaBeouf was born June 11, 1986, in Los Angeles, California, to Jeffrey LaBeouf and Shayna Saide, and is an only child. His parents are divorced, and he lives with his mom in Los Angeles. He started his career by doing stand-up comedy around places in his neighborhood, such as coffee clubs. One day, he saw a friend of his act on "Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman" (1993), and wanted to become an actor. Shia and his mom talked it over, and the next day he started looking for an agent. He searched in the yellow pages, called one up, and did a stand-up routine in front of him. They liked him and signed him, and then he started auditioning. He's well known for playing Louis Stevens in the popular Disney Channel series "Even Stevens" (2000) and has won a Daytime Emmy for his performance.
Shia LaBeouf is certainly opinionated and has a mind of his own. Don't let anyone ever tell you that he is a follower or someonw who listens to conventional wisdom! And, as you can see below, from what we gather, a very good liar, especially when it comes to talking about "Indiana Jones 4."
Wild About Movies: I recently spoke to DJ Caruso ("Disturbia" dirctor) and Ivan Reitman ("Disturbia" producer) about making the movie, earlier, and one of the things they said is that you brought a lot to the role in terms of your character. What was the sort of stuff that you noticed and wanted to change?
Shia LaBeouf: Well the script was a good script, but sometimes you’ve got these 30-year- olds writing for your age group and they don’t necessarily understand your age group as well as you do. But then again sometimes you don’t understand what’s going on as much as they do. It’s just very inclusive. DJ’s a very inclusive director.
You would have grips and electricians coming up to you and going, ‘you know, I’ve got a 10-year-old and a 12- year-old, and I’ve never seen them do that.’ Or you’d have, you know, everybody who was involved including the craft services would come up and talk about plot. It’s rare that you have sets like that. You don’t have those sets all the time. And humans are human. They’re experts at life. They know life as well as you do. So all the combined input was helpful. It wasn’t all me. There’s stuff I added, but that’s the job of the actors to color things in.
Wild About Movies: When you read the script, did you and the rest of the cast realize that there was an opportunity for this movie to talk to your generation more than, say, other movies?
Shia LaBeouf: Yeah. We realized there hadn’t been a movie like that in a while, a ‘Say Anything.’ It’s funny, you get these horror films that become so one notey like, ‘Oh, this is the terrible…’ It’s all like the terrifying, ‘let’s cut the arm off, let’s pull his teeth out.’ It’s just not scary anymore. There’s going to come a point where an audience is going to go ‘alright, I’ve seen it. Now what are you going to do? Are you going to pull something else out? Are you going to kill him with something else?’ And there’s never like thought that goes into it. Character study is where it gets scary. When you have somebody like David Morris who’s creating a scary guy, who’s got all these different layers, his hair’s just a little too long, you know, just the small stuff, he’s got an earring, he’s very subtle, but he’s very good at what he does. He’s one of the best character actors we have. So when you have a guy like that who’s involved, it just becomes something else, especially with that whole relationship. And you have Sarah who is wounded.
She’s a wounded girl. You can see she’s in pain. There’s something interesting about the fact that you can’t figure her out and she’s bubbly, but you know that something inside of her is wounded. There’s an interesting dichotomy with a person like that and how they think and how they go about dealing with life, how they always have their representative and their shield that never comes down. You only see what they’re projecting and you know that they’re projecting, so you never really get to meet them. And there’s something sexy about that. There’s a mystery to her. Usually, especially with roles like that, the girl in the horror film is always like the big titted blonde who’s screaming the whole time. And she’s lame. People have seen it.
Wild About Movies: Ivan said you’re still relatively young and you’re very grounded, very smart, very focused and that’s rare sometimes in this business. How do you stay grounded in this business when you read about Paris Hilton doing all these crazy things?
Shia LaBeouf: Well, Paris Hilton is not an actress. She’s a professional personality. There’s two different routes to this. You can be a personality or you can be an actor. You can’t do both. There’s different ways to do this. Look at 70s actors and you don’t know much about them, especially when they were doing movies like Dustin Hoffman when he’s going from The Graduate to Midnight Cowboy, then he was doing Papillon, and then he was in Kramer vs. Kramer.
You don’t know anything about him which is why you buy him in all these roles. Paris Hilton can’t play anything but Paris Hilton. There’s nothing wrong with that. I guess there’s an audience. That’s why she’s successful. That’s why people still read that. It’s not whether it’s right or wrong or this is a good type of art. Art is art. There’s nothing wrong in art. There’s good and bad, but that’s all personal. There’s nothing wrong in art. It’s art. You can’t say that. It’s a painting.
Wild About Movies: What about fame? Has fame become a little pain in the ass from time to time?
Shia LaBeouf: I don’t have any of it. I’m not like a celebrity or star. I’m an actor.
Wild About Movies: What did you learn from David Morris?
Shia LaBeouf: Not much. He didn’t talk to me for two months. He’s a method actor and he lives alone in his own world and we weren’t like on good grounds. He didn’t talk to me at all. Only time he was talking to me was when we were doing fight scenes and that would only be to say ‘this is real bad. Maybe you should duck.’ It wasn’t like a friendly thing. I remember there was one fight scene – this is how intimidating he is – I mean he’s 7 feet tall. That’s intimidating enough.
But there’s this fight scene where he takes my head, he slams me into a table, and we did that a couple times, and on one take his hand got lodged here and wound up going straight in. This finger got broken, this finger’s messed up, this knuckle’s here, and he looks at his hand. A normal person would not take the time to look. You’d innately respond just to the pain of it, and then you’d say ‘Hey, I’ve got to go to the hospital. Maybe we should stop doing these takes.’ He looks at his hand. You see that it’s broken and he looks at me and he goes, ‘Are you ready to go again? Good, let’s do it.’
Wild About Movies: So when did you realize that maybe he might not be an asshole?
Shia LaBeouf: He’s not an asshole. You know he’s not an asshole and you know that there’s leeway that certain actors need to take to get to where they’re going to go. And it wasn’t intentional. He didn’t go out of his way not to talk to me. He just wouldn’t participate.
Wild About Movies: He needed that distance from you as a character?
Shia LaBeouf: He just wouldn’t participate. Yeah.
Wild About Movies: There’s this line in the movie where you talk about the reality of what’s going on in your community. Your best friend comes over and you say, ‘check this out’ and you start sharing some of these lives. We live in reality, we live in reality TV and all this kind of thing. Yet this is a movie, this is a film, this is a story. How do you separate, where do you draw the line for yourself when it’s your reality vs. this is what you do?
Shia LaBeouf: Well, like right now it’s a performance. This is just a representative. This conversation that we’re having is far too important for me to be real. There’s too much riding on what your opinions are and what you people have to say about this movie for me to be honest with you. I can be honest with you and be truthful and tell you about my life, but there are just certain opinions I have that I can’t express here. Talk about Paris Hilton, I can go off on that for 30 minutes.
Wild About Movies: So you knew early on that you were going to set parameters for yourself?
Shia LaBeouf: Yeah, the party was never interesting to me. My dad was a drug addict. There’s something about watching your dad go through heroin withdrawals when you’re 11, it’s just not interesting any more. It’s all gone and you grow up real fast. You become a parent real quick. Not that I’m like… There’s a lot of kids who deal with this. I’m not like individualizing this one. You look at kids now, everybody’s coming from a split parenthood type of thing, and there’s a lot of drugs out there and I just happen to be … I’m an 80s baby. What was going on in the 80s?
My dad was … It was karate and heroin for my dad. That’s where he was at. The big reason people get into drugs is curiosity and I’ve never been curious. I’ve never had curiosity towards drugs for sure. Plus I put so much into this and I come from five generations of artists on both sides of my family who never succeeded, so this is not just big for me but big for everybody involved – everybody in my family, everybody in my lineage.
Wild About Movies: What expectations are you’re talking about for your lineage and for your family? There’s a lot that’s already being written about you in the industry, like the Wall Street Journal article that’s basically putting you on this pedestal already and comparing you to Tom Hanks. How do you control that yourself to say ‘Hey guys, what’s going on?’
Shia LaBeouf: You just don’t. You don’t believe the good stuff, you don’t believe the bad stuff, you just don’t believe any of it. It’s all a big game. This is a big play. This is just another… This is like a joke, man. I’m a real person. This stuff is all magical and fun, but at the end of the day, I have a Nissan, a two bedroom house, and I’m watching a Dodger game. I’m not at my home reading the Wall Street Journal. I see it and it’s fantastic and I’m honored by it, but I can’t buy into it and believe it because if I do that, then I go on Ain’t It Cool News and read the rumor, ‘Oh, he’s playing Indy.’ ‘No! Shia LaBeouf?! Fuck that piece of shit. He’s a fucking loser.’ And if you start believing this, then you got to believe that. Jon Voight always said don’t read any of it. Enjoy yourself.
("Editor's note: Steven Spielberg's people have confirmed to Wild About Movies that they have signed Shia LaBeouf "Indiana Jones 4.")***
Wild About Movies: What about "Indiana Jones 4"?
Shia LaBeouf: The Indy thing is just a rumor.
Wild About Movies: It’s a rumor even though it’s in both Variety and the Wall Street Journal - and we have confirmed reports from Paramount Pictures that you are signed on to play a role in the film?
Shia LaBeouf: Well yeah, I was also rumored to be in Superman and that was in Variety and the Wall Street Journal and all of these places, and it said that I was going to play Jimmy Olsen and then that didn’t happen. It also did the same thing with Natalie Portman. It said that she was going to play the daughter and Hayden Christensen was going to play the son. Now they’ve announced Cate Blanchett and they’ve announced Ray Winstone, but what is it saying? I’ve read it too. It’s stating a rumor and then it says that it hasn’t been confirmed by the studio, but it’s been confirmed by a good source. Who’s the good source? Tell me because I’d like to know that guy so I can be involved in the information that he has. I’m a loud mouth. I’ll tell you. If I have a contract, I will tell you.
Wild About Movies: Well there’s a difference between a contract and having conversations.
Shia LaBeouf: I’m not having this conversation. I’ve never had the role. I’ve not had the meetings.
Wild About Movies: What did you have the most fun doing on Disturbia?
Shia LaBeouf: We were shooting the movie during the playoffs. Clippers were in the playoffs and DJ is a huge Clippers fan and I’m a pretty big Clippers fan and then the Dodgers were in the playoffs. I’m the biggest Dodgers fan you’ve ever met. So it was a real cool vibe because we’d be working and at lunch we’d all be together, so it was never like we all took our separate time.
DJ had the TV so the whole crew was in his trailer watching the playoffs. And then when we weren’t on set, it was just like a family. Very familial. You felt like you knew everyone and knew everyone’s life. It was the type of set where you’d come to set and say ‘How are your kids?’ and really mean it, not just say it to say it. It was like a really cool vibe. Batting cages, golfing together. It was a real inclusive, tight knit group.
Wild About Movies: How was it working with Carrie-Anne Moss?
Shia LaBeouf: Well it was like jarring because of what you know of Carrie-Anne Moss even before the Matrix. She’s got a great repertoire of films and a lot of diverse characters, but you don’t expect her to come to set and be so mom-like. But she had just given birth and she was nursing her baby in the rehearsals, and there’s something that clicks in your mind when you see a woman nursing a child where you innately feel like ‘Oh, this woman can protect me, she’s a nurturer,’ and you hug her and she felt like mommie, and especially when you’re expecting Trinity to show up. It was just jarring. It was like wow, this is going to be fun.
Wild About Movies: You had a nice chemistry together.
Shia LaBeouf: Yeah, we had a good time. But we had a lot to figure out. It was like who’s going to take the reins here. How do we deal with the guilt of the fact that you’re my mother, you know that I have something to do with the loss of my own father, how much leeway are you going to give me? At the same time, I’m the one who killed the love of your life. How are you going to play that? How are we going to have a conversation? So we’d be doing rehearsals where I’d be having Carrie-Anne against the wall punching the wall, and then we would be flipped and she’d do the same thing and we would tone it down. It was like trying to figure out who’s wearing the shoes here. Who’s going to control this? What are our discussions like? What’s the guilt like? Are you dating?
How do I feel about that? You know, just a lot of talking, a lot of conversation. And she was great about it, you know. At the same time, she’s nursing a newborn so how much time do you have to be able to indulge in something like this when you’ve got a kid that’s got to take priority. But she’d be there with her kid and that did something to my head and she did it intentionally. She could have easily just kept the kid at home, or the trailer, or kept it with a nurse or with the husband, but she intentionally brought it to set all the time. It was always around. Let me hold the kid. It just became like… It felt very like we were in a family.