[by Dean Smith] I have always enjoyed Shia LaBeouf as an actor — from his childhood acting career in the TV comedy series “Even Stevens” to his role in “Transformers.” He is a great actor, but his life of late has been troubling.
Over the past year or so he has been accused of plagiarism for a short film he produced and even arrested for criminal trespass and disorderly conduct during a New York Broadway show — Cabaret.
So, I was a bit surprised to hear he had become a Christian during the filming of his most recent film “Fury,” a World War II epic.
In the movie — which also stars Brad Pitt who plays “Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier,” the tank commander — Shia plays “Boyd ‘Bible’ Swan” a member of the tank crew who is a Christian.
He was a Christian who swore and killed Nazis.
He clearly believed in Jesus as the way of salvation. He was very open about his faith. One, who talked to his crew member and others about needing Jesus to be saved. One who even shared his faith with dying Germans.
One who believed his place in this war was a divine calling. In the last battle scene – a suicidal mission against a crack SS troop, where the tank members struggled with holding their position or retreating — Shia or should I say Shia’s character quotes God’s commissioning of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8 as they decide to stay:
Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!”
This role seems to have profoundly affected Shia. In an interview with Interview Magazine, LaBeouf said:
“I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a f***ing bull***t way — in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it. It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control. And while there’s beauty to that, acting is all about control. So that was a wild thing to navigate.”
He said it in much the same way his character acted during the movie.
According to reports, two people on set during the filming of Fury helped LaBeouf in his decision. One was Brad Pitt, who grew up in a Christian home, but isn’t walking with God now and the movie’s director Brad Ayer who is a Christian. Both provided LaBeouf with a different perspective on the Christian faith.
Speaking of their influence, LaBeouf said:
“I had good people around me who helped me. Brad [Pitt] was really instrumental in guiding my head through this. Brad comes from a hyper-religious, very deeply Christian, Bible Belt life, and he rejected it and moved toward an unnamed spirituality. He looked at religion like the people’s opium, almost like a Marxist view on religion.”
“Whereas David [Ayers] is a full subscriber to Christianity. But these two diametrically opposed positions both lead to the same spot, and I really looked up to both men. It was nice to have conversations with Brad about the family he came from and what he was using to get through the day.”
“People don’t know this about Brad: He’s a very thoughtful actor. That’s not a motherf***er who just shows up and does the job. He puts a lot in, so you get a lot out. He’s hard on himself, very hard. I think every great artist is bipolar to some degree. To be great you have to have self-criticism, which, in that moment, becomes some sort of bipolar thing. You go from ‘That was f***ing great’ to ‘I’m f***ing shit.’ And Brad has a bipolar element to the way he deals with his work. We have a lot of similarities that way.”
In a bit of irony, Brad Pitt plays a similar role in the movie. His character portrays a man who also had a Christian upbringing, but one who clearly has been impacted in a negative way by the war.
I believe LaBeouf’s conversion was sincere, but it is just the start of a journey.
“I’ve been a runner my whole life running from myself, whether to movies or drinking and drugging or f*** calamity or whatever it is. I’ve always been running.”
- Shia LaBeouf: Interview Magazine