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Shia LaBeouf Gets Candid About Padre Pio, The Movie That Got Him Out Of Acting Exile

Shia LaBeouf in The Peanut Butter Falcon
(Image credit: Roadside Attractions)

Shia LaBeouf was on the verge of making a great comeback in Hollywood with movies like Honey Boy, The Peanut Butter Falcon, and Pieces of a Woman until various allegations put him at the lowest point of his career. With all of the trouble that has followed the former Disney Channel star’s reputation in recent years, he’s been trying to earn forgiveness. He was almost ready to throw in the towel until he was approached about a new film opportunity that would get him out of his acting exile called Padre Pio. 

When Shia LaBeouf was hitting rock bottom in his career and his life in general, he joined a spiritual Zoom meeting where fate led him to director Abel Ferrara about taking on a role in Padre Pio. The 36-year-old said in his interview with Bishop Robert Barron that it didn’t feel like a simple coincidence to get offered a role like this when things were going so terribly for him. In the actor's words:

This is early days in my what now looks like a salvific journey from my side. I was still egotistical; I was still grasping at straws. How do I hold on to what I’ve lost? How do I build a career again? How do I… and so when this director that I respected, I had known he made movies that I really loved. Bad Lieutenant for me is one of the greatest performances ever made. And I know he’s an actor’s director and the fact there’s this director reaching out to me – because at this point I’m nuclear, no one wants to talk to me, including my mother. Manager’s not calling. Agents not calling. I’m not connected to the business anymore. So the fact this man reached out to me felt like something like in my egoic mind, ‘Well this is a miracle. This is my chance.’ … Great, now I can get back on the horse.

While trouble has followed Shia LaBeouf in the past as he's faced petty theft and battery charges, what’s been taking over the headlines with LaBeouf more recently was a lawsuit that claimed he abused former girlfriend FKA Twigs, which removed him from the publicity and awards campaign of Pieces of a Woman. Not to mention that there’s also the conflicting stories of what really led to LaBeouf’s exit from Don’t Worry Darling. He told Bishop Barron that he lost direction in his life and felt like he couldn’t even go outside. Despite the Transformers actor seeking help in rehab, the underlying trauma and anger he was experiencing was enough for him to consider taking his own life.

What started as simply preparing for the lead role in Padre Pio led to a life-changing decision on his beliefs. The Jewish-born actor needed to learn about the Catholic faith and the Capuchin order to see where his Catholic saint character belonged. This led to him to driving to San Lorenzo Seminary in Santa Ynez, California, and from there, LaBeouf lived in the monastery amongst the Capuchins. He also learned how to say “Mass,” which was the center of St. Pio’s life. Over the course of several months, all of his research into the role turned into something much more at the point where he converted to Catholicism. LaBeouf continued to talk in the interview about what really grabbed his attention towards his newfound faith:

I started reading about a route. I started reading a map. Like towards something that felt like ‘let go.’ That’s really what I got out of the Gospels. If I could wrap it up in two words, it was ‘let go.’ And at that time that I was reading it, I was holding on so tight to a life that I was slipping away through my hands to 35 years of management that the Gospel gave me this invite to just let go.

It appears that Padre Pio really was the saving grace that Shia LaBeouf needed in order to keep pushing forward in life. The Catholic-themed biopic made its debut at the Venice Film Festival with not-so-favorable reviews from critics. 

However, Shia LeBeouf ended up landing another role in Francis Ford Coppola's upcoming movie Megalopolis, which is about an architect who wants to build New York City as a utopia. If this actor learns how to stay away from controversy from here on out, he could end up having a very promising career for years to come. 

Carly Levy
Entertainment Writer

Just your average South Floridian cinephile who believes the pen is mightier than the sword.