After setting ‘life on fire,’ Shia LaBeouf becomes Catholic

When it rains, it pours for Shia LaBeouf.

Just as the embattled ‘Transformers’ star revealed he was contemplating suicide before converting to Catholicism, he found himself locked in a war of words with his former director Olivia Wilde, who recently said she cast him from her new film Don’ Don’t worry, darling” because his creative process “wasn’t conducive to the ethos” she demands for her productions.

According to Variety, LaBeouf — who describes himself as an immersive actor — denied Wilde’s claim, claiming he “left the film due to a lack of rehearsal time,” citing 2020 emails and text messages he allegedly sent to the director before she replaced him with her now boyfriend Harry Styles.

Variety released an email that LaBeouf, 36, wrote to Wilde, 38, in response to Variety’s previous story about his departure in 2020, which he called “attractive clickbait” given that I’m still persona non-grata and could remain so for the rest of my life.” He also refuted the “fiery” narrative Wilde had laid out during the film’s promotion, and his writing included several new details about his professional and personal life.

“Firing me never happened, Olivia. And while I fully understand the appeal of moving this story forward given the current social landscape, the social currency it brings. It’s not the truth,” he reportedly wrote. “So, as a person intent on setting things right, I humbly ask that you correct the narrative as best you can. I hope none of this negative [affects] You and that your film is as successful as you want it to be.”

The ‘Honey Boy’ and ‘The Peanut Butter Falcon’ star also revealed that he has been sober for 627 days and has reunited with his wife Mia while they raise Isabel, their 5-month-old daughter, together.

A representative for Wilde did not immediately respond to the Times request for comment on Friday.

On Thursday, in a separate forum, LaBeouf opened up about the changes he’s been through after several years of PR crises, including allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct by former partner FKA branches and other legal troubles. Setting his “life on fire” eventually led him to Catholicism while working on the film Padre Pio, a biopic about Italian priest Francesco Forgione, who was canonized in 2002.

The themes of Catholicism and “trippy” acting trials also recently collided, as famed Method actor Andrew Garfield recently opened up about his trial when he played a Jesuit priest in Martin Scorsese’s 2016 film Silence — and the sobriety that came with it. LaBeouf said Thursday that he’s not at the level or in the “intellectual” and “stupid” school of thought of method acting. Instead, he described himself as “an unintellectual feeler” and an “immersive actor” during an extended conversation about acting, spirituality, and his conversion with Bishop Robert Barron, former auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and founder of the Word on Fire ministry.

“Pio is interesting because Pio saved my life too, it’s not just like a movie or anything. And I don’t mean that lightly. If you like immersive experiences and are given the task of playing Pio, your life will change,” said LaBeouf.

Pio, the Capuchin friar who died in 1968, is highly regarded in the Roman Catholic Church as one of the most spiritual men who ever lived. Bad Lieutenant director Abel Ferrara offered LaBeouf the role when the actor was at the lowest point in his life and career, even contemplating suicide. La Beouf credits the role with saving him.

“I had a gun on the table. I didn’t want to be alive when this all happened, OK. A shame like never before,” LaBeouf told Barron.

LaBeouf researched the role by staying at a seminary in San Lorenzo, California and living outside of his car in the parking lot before slowly being taken in by residents. He described himself as “nuclear” at the time and nobody wanted to speak to him – not his manager, his agent or even his mother.

“I got into this, my life was on fire. I came out of hell,” he said. “It wasn’t like I came here voluntarily [the church] on a white horse singing show tunes. I came here on fire. I didn’t want to be an actor anymore and my life was a complete mess. And I had hurt a lot of people, and I felt deep shame and deep guilt. I didn’t like going outside. I had no longing [to] not be here anymore, you know, I was on my way out.”

He also addressed some of the “disgusting, depraved” allegations against him, such as abusing women, shooting dogs and willingly giving women sexually transmitted diseases. (In December 2020, FKA Twigs accused the actor of physical, sexual and psychological abuse and sued him for repeated abuse and assault he allegedly inflicted during their relationship. He was also charged with assault and petty theft stemming from an altercation at the June 2020 resulted .)

The former Disney Channel star said his mother was not a practicing Jew but was Jewish in culture and that he had a bar mitzvah mainly to please his ailing grandmother. He later learned that his uncle had baptized him as a Christian. He said that his spirituality has long “felt wrong” and that he used to equate art, love and God as synonyms – and that acting makes him feel godlike.

“I know now that God used my ego to draw me to Himself, pulled me away from worldly desires,” he added. “It all happened at the same time. But there would have been no impetus for me to get in the car and drive up [to the seminary] if I didn’t think, ‘Oh, I’m going to save my career.’

“And what happened to me is … a switch happened.”

He said he was selfish in coming on board the film and saw it as a step to redeem his career by co-starring with Willem Dafoe. But the pain he’d experienced over the past few years prepared him to approach the role differently — particularly how he spent time at the seminary. That and Pio’s life helped him better understand suffering and use his destiny to help other people.

As he began to turn to religion, LaBeouf said he encountered a group of men in seminary who began talking to him about the gospel he had never read and was impressed by figures like John the Baptist and simply “let go” of the guideline. His stay at the seminary also introduced him to Barron, who helped him define how to pray during his time there.

“When I saw that other people who had sinned beyond anything I could think of were also found in Christ, I felt like, ‘OK, this gives me hope,'” added LaBeouf. “I started hearing experiences from other depraved people who had found their way here, and it made me feel like I had permission.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/movies/story/2022-08-26/not-so-fast-olivia-wilde-shia-labeouf-wants-to-clear-the-air-i-quit-your-film After setting ‘life on fire,’ Shia LaBeouf becomes Catholic

Sarah Ridley

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