Photography by Matthias Vriens-McGrath
Shia’s next film to be released is
THE WETTEST COUNTY IN THE WORLD
Directed by John Hillcoat from a screenplay by the rocker-poet Nick Cave, the film stars Tom Hardy, Jason Clarke, and LaBeouf as bootlegging brothers in Prohibition-era Appalachia…
He’s bulked up considerably since he first achieved notoriety as the dandelion-headed wisenheimer Louis Stevens on the Disney Channel series Even Stevens—though he’s not quite as jacked up as he was when he was working out twice a day and gulping down creatine and protein shakes to prepare for Wettest County. “Dude, I was 185 and ripped,” he says.
“He will say what he feels, almost too much so,” notes Wettest County director Hillcoat. “He wears his heart on his sleeve, and it can sometimes blow back. But it’s the same thing that also lets him access the truth of his emotions.”
Such truth telling hasn’t always amused his colleagues. After being anointed by Steven Spielberg, LaBeouf gave a lukewarm review to Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, blaming himself as well as the legendary filmmaker for its failings (“When you drop the ball, you drop the ball,” he said at the time). “I got lambasted for that, and understandably so,” he says, smiling. “Because you can’t be an actor and be honest—that’s crazy!” Although LaBeouf tells me that Harrison Ford privately applauded his outspokenness, Ford recalls the conversation differently. “I think I told him he was a fucking idiot,” the famously reticent star says. “As an actor, I think it’s my obligation to support the film without making a complete ass of myself. Shia is ambitious, attentive, and talented—and he’s learning how to deal with a situation which is very unique and difficult.”