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Shia LaBeouf goes hard. He doesn’t know the meaning of light preparation or minimal effort. If he commits to something, he’ll go over and above to make it happen. If he’s committed to doing a silent performance art apology and someone takes off his clothes and has sex with him, he’s going to let it happen. And if he needs to play a soldier in a realistic, gritty film, he’s going to get on his boots and simulate war as best as he can.
Over the course of an extended, two week interview with Dazed, Shia LaBeouf opened up about his experiences filming Fury. Some of the anecdotes, like how he cut his face, have come out already, but the actor was kind enough to paint a quick, blunt picture of the whole process. It’s nothing short of shocking.
"David (Ayer, director) told us right from the gate: ‘I need you to give me everything.’ So the day after I got the job, I joined the US National Guard. I was baptised – accepted Christ in my heart – tattooed my surrender and became ?a chaplain’s assistant to Captain Yates for the 41st Infantry. I spent a month living on a forward operating base. Then I linked up with my cast and went to Fort Irwin. I pulled my tooth out, knifed my face up and spent days watching horses die. ?I didn’t bathe for four months."
Now that’s old school dedication. It reminds me of the stories of Nick Nolte living as a homeless person or Robert De Niro actually working as a cab driver. Hell, it reminds me of LaBeouf himself who once dropped acid for a role. I’m not advocating anyone needs to go to these lengths to give a great performance, but you certainly have to respect someone who puts in as much preparation work as he or she feels is needed.
Without question, the worst part of this whole experience had to be watching multiple horses die. I find it traumatic enough when a horse falls during a race and has to be put down. God only knows how brutal it is to actually watch it happen in real time. That was a regular occurrence back in the day during wars though. Most people think military horses were a thing of the past by World War II, but in actuality, the Germans and Soviet Union used the animals extensively for transportation, among other things.
Shia LaBeouf is really good in Fury. Here’s to hoping he eventually finds a project that will show the world how talented he is.