Even Shia LaBeouf would likely agree he’s playing against type as the actor tackles the role of a saint in his new movie.
But he may be on the road to Hollywood redemption.
For the past year and a half, LaBeaouf has shunned the spotlight after being accused of sexual assault by singer ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs in a case that could soon see them go head to head in court.
During that time he’s reunited with wife Mia Goth and, as he recently revealed, they have a 5-month-old daughter, Isabel, whom he says has given him a “new purpose.”
He revealed in an open letter to actor-director Olivia Wilde, defending himself in a simmering feud, that he has been sober for more than 600 days.
And multiple sources told Page Six that the 36-year-old former child star is is getting back into Hollywood’s good graces — including the announcement this week that he has been hired by Frances Ford Coppola for the director’s $100 million epic “Megalopolis,” also featuring Adam Driver, Forest Whitaker, Nathalie Emmanuel, Jon Voight and Laurence Fishburne.
In LaBeouf’s latest film, “Padre Pio,” which debuted at the Venice Film Festival this week, he plays the real-life 20th-century “radical-rebel saint” who battles both his spiritual demons and burning rage on screen.
The actor — who comes from a Jewish family — recently told Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire Catholic Ministries that he had converted to the Roman Catholic Church while studying for the role of Pio.
Now he is even claiming that Twigs, and her accusations, saved his life.
LaBeouf told Bishop Barron that “suffering is actually a gift,” adding of Twigs: “When I think about what’s happened in my life this way … Old me, when I walked in, was so upset about, so resentful about the woman who accused me of all this.
“I wanted to go on Twitter and write all these things. I wanted to justify this and explain all this. Now I actually see: the woman saved my life. She is, for me, a saint in my life. She saved my life. That happened, the perspective switch feels miraculous … There’s no other way I could have done it on my own.”
He also said he has reached out to his mother, Shayna Saide — with whom he’s had a fraught relationship — after a message popped into his head while learning to recite the rosary: “Call your mother, tell her you love her.”
“I had been abusive to women, and had been shooting dogs and willingly been giving women STDs,” LaBeouf confessed to the bishop. “It’s disgusting. It’s depraved. My mother is embarrassed beyond imagination.”
Despite the actor’s public prostration, his ex Twigs — real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett — is still going ahead with the lawsuit that she brought against the actor in December 2020 for sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.
The two met on the set of the 2018 movie “Honey Boy” and dated for eight months. She has accused him of “relentless abuse,” including choking her, threatening to crash the car they were both in and knowingly giving her a sexually transmitted disease. Twigs also said the actor kept a gun by the bed. LaBeouf has denied her claims, although the actor seems to be publicly confessing a lot.
A court date has been set in Los Angeles for April 17, 2023. (Twigs now lives in London.) Asked about the actor’s comeback, a former LaBeouf confidant told Page Six: “Shia is very much on his redemption tour. He plays a saint in his new movie and he’s taking on that persona, which he tends to do a lot with his movies. But just because you play a saint doesn’t mean you are one.”
“All Twigs has ever wanted was for Shia to get the appropriate help and take responsibility for his actions,” said a source familiar with the situation. “She wants to prevent any others from getting hurt and to give voice to survivors.”
Sources close to the “Cellophane” singer previously told Page Six that she had been left “traumatized” by the relationship with LaBeouf and still suffers PTSD from their time together.
Reps for Twigs and LaBeouf did not comment.
The revelation of LaBeouf’s path to enlightenment was, in part, triggered by Olivia Wilde, the actor/director who has long claimed that she forced his exit from her upcoming film, “Don’t Worry Darling” because of her “No a–holes policy.”
That has become part of the fable of the movie, which stars Wilde’s real-life boyfriend — Harry Styles, who took over LaBeouf’s role — and Florence Pugh.
However, when Wilde repeated the claims, adding that that his process required a “combative energy,” to Variety magazine last month, LaBeouf hit back with a vengeance.
In an email to Wilde and shared with Variety, LaBeouf denied he was fired, instead claiming he “quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time.”
He said: “I have embarked on a journey that feels redemptive & righteous (dirty word but fitting). I write to you now with 627 days of sobriety and a moral compass that never existed before my great humbling that was the last year and a quarter of my life. I reached out to you a few months ago to make amends; & I still pray one day, you can find space in your heart to forgive me for the failed collaboration we shared”
LaBeouf also used the email to speak of his ex.
“My failings with Twigs are fundamental and real, but they are not the narrative that has been presented. There is a time and a place to deal with such things, and I am trying to navigate a nuanced situation with respect for her and the truth, hence my silence,” he wrote.
The familiar source said that Twigs has been concentrating making her music and videos, but added: “She’s tried to carry on but, of course, any time these types of things come up, it can’t not be hard.”
“In all of these stories, he says he’s doing the work, but she has no idea what he’s doing,” said the former LaBeaouf confidant. “Going to AA is not the same as anger management.”
A source who knows LaBeouf told Page Six that he is “completely committed to a healthy life, to making better decisions and taking care of himself and his family.”
The actor has previously been arrested 11 times and had numerous other run-ins with the law for offenses ranging from public drunkenness and disorderly conduct to attempting to stab a neighbor.
But as he wrote in his email to Wilde: “I have a little girl, Isabel; she is five months old and just beginning to develop the last half of her laugh; it’s AMAZING. Mia, my wife & I have found each other again & are journeying toward a healthy family with love and mutual respect.”
Addressing how he had “f–ked up” and “hurt a lot of people” before the birth of his daughter, LeBeouf this week told podcast host Jon Berthnal that becoming a dad was like hitting “some kind of weird reset button” in how he lives his life.
“She’s testing me,” he explained. “It’s almost like having the ultimate parole officer. I need someone to keep me accountable.”
LaBeouf said that he’s “learning to be a man of principles” and plans to make amends with a “long list of people” he’s hurt in the past. “I was a pleasure-seeking, selfish, self-centered, dishonest, inconsiderate, fearful human being and I was operating on a survival instinct,” he said. “All my loves and friendships were transactional.”
He added that, “For my wife, I’ll be making amends for the rest of my life.”
The actor also said he was inspired to clean up his act by the thought of his daughter one day Googling his name and finding out her father was seen as “a deplorable, disgusting piece of s–t … I have now until she’s literate to create a relationship with her where she knows me more than this idea of who I am in the public.”
Despite Wilde claiming LaBeouf was difficult on set, “Pio” director Abel Ferrara told Variety this week he had no reservations in working with the actor: “I know the journey he’s on. I’ve struggled with drugs and alcohol, and I’m sober now for 10 years … This film is about Shia’s struggle, as much as it is about Padre Pio, because… there are scenes where he’s him, working his own s–t out.”
One top Hollywood production source told Page Six that “Shia’s a genuine talent, so it’s exciting to see what he’ll do next. His email to Olivia seems to honestly take responsibility for his past behavior and that he has remorse. Actions speak louder than words, so let’s see how he behaves on the set of upcoming projects.”
But another industry insider, while optimistic, suggested caution.
“Shia’s chipping away, and showing that he can do films and not get trashed or called out is helpful,” the insider said. “But it’ll be awhile before studios trust that 100 percent.”
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