When out­laws be­come heroes

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE -

SHIA LaBeouf is shift­ing. Af­ter carv­ing out

a ca­reer in the Trans­form­ers films, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and In­di­ana Jones and The King­dom Of The Crys­tal Skull, the 26- year- old is en­joy­ing a run of indie flicks.

The first is Law­less, a pro­hi­bi­tion- era drama which pre­miered at Cannes in May, where it was nom­i­nated for the pres­ti­gious Palme d’Or award.

LaBeouf, who has made jokes about the Trans­form­ers films be­ing ‘‘ rub­bish’’ and will not be re­turn­ing for the fourth in­stal­ment, was the first ac­tor to join the cast of Law­less three years ago – af­ter the Aus­tralian di­rec­tor John Hill­coat and screen­writer Nick Cave, bet­ter known for his mu­si­cal projects with The Bad Seeds and Grin­der­man.

‘‘ I was the first per­son in,’’ LaBeouf de­clares proudly.

‘‘ That’s my squad. If I could work with them for the rest of my life, I would.

‘‘ I’d seen all of John’s work and I loved it, and I re­ally wanted to work with him be­cause I think he’s one of the very best.’’ The deal was agreed over burg­ers. ‘‘ He took me to Ham­burger Ham­let and said ‘ Let’s make Goodfel­las in the woods’. And I was like, ‘ Word! Let’s do that’,’’ LaBeouf says.

De­spite two years of set­backs and near-starts, the ac­tor, who is to­day sport­ing slicked- back, wavy hair to his shoul­der, and stub­ble, re­mained com­mit­ted to the project, even when his star sta­tus rose with the Trans­form­ers se­ries.

Ac­tu­ally, the tim­ing ended up hav­ing ad­van­tages, he now thinks.

‘‘ Law­less is closer to my own sen­si­bil­ity but I’ve been work­ing on things that you can’t say no to, be­cause they’re in­cred­i­ble op­por­tu­ni­ties, and help to make films like this pos­si­ble,’’ LaBeouf says.

‘‘ Had Trans­form­ers not been a suc­cess then I don’t think Law­less would have hap­pened. So ev­ery step is linked and I don’t re­gret any of it.’’

LaBeouf plays youngest brother Jack Bon­durant, along­side Tom Hardy and new­comer Ja­son Clarke as elder sib­lings For­rest and Howard, in Hill­coat’s big- screen adaptation of Matt Bon­durant’s true- to- life novel The Wettest County In The World.

‘‘ I hadn’t been given a lot of op­por­tu­nity to make a film like this. This is a boy be­com­ing a man in many ways,’’ he says.

‘‘ He has his first drink of moon­shine, his first kiss. Jack finds an ap­petite for vi­o­lence and this gang­ster life and it’s like he’s trans­formed from a teddy bear into a rock star and out­law.

‘‘ It’s the most tan­gi­ble, rooted char­ac­ter I’ve ever been able to play in my life.

‘‘ When you work on some­thing that is char­ac­ter- driven, ev­ery­one is hy­per fo­cused on the lit­tle de­tails, like the way you move your fin­ger.

‘‘ It’s just a com­pletely dif­fer­ent way of work­ing and I loved it.’’

It was LaBeouf who took it upon him­self to get Hardy on board. The pair be­came friends af­ter LaBeouf sent the British ac­tor a fan email about his per­for­mance in crime biopic Bron­son, and they later for­warded scripts to each other. LaBeouf sent Bon­durant’s novel and Cave’s screen­play to Hardy, who loved them both.

‘‘ I love him, he’s in­cred­i­ble. I look at Hardy like a hero, he’s one of the best ac­tors around,’’ he says.

In fact, for LaBeouf, it was a dream cast all round.

‘‘ When you have ac­tors of the cal­i­bre of Gary Old­man and Guy Pearce in there, it does some­thing for your con­fi­dence level,’’ he says.

‘‘ It was an ex­tra­or­di­nary op­por­tu­nity for me to work with kings and gods.

‘‘ Be­ing around them, I was ob­vi­ously ap­pear­ing like a young buck, but I was the hap­pi­est guy in the world.’’

While LaBeouf ev­i­dently rel­ished the role, he didn’t en­joy hav­ing to put on weight and train for around two months to tone up.

‘‘ I had to gain 40 pounds. That was prob­a­bly the most phys­i­cally ar­du­ous. It’s some­thing to get used to,’’ he ad­mits.

How­ever, the reg­u­lar train­ing ses­sions did en­sure that LaBeouf, Hardy and Clarke were able to bond like broth­ers.

‘‘ We were al­ways in the gym, that was like our community. Our brother­hood started in the gym,’’ he re­calls.

LaBeouf says a fight scene with Guy Pearce, who plays Spe­cial Agent Charley Rakes, turned out to be quite spon­ta­neous.

‘‘ The fight scene I did with Guy was re­ally or­ganic, it hap­pened re­ally fast,’’ he re­calls.

‘‘ That’s the way John Hill­coat does his vi­o­lence. It’s messy, dirty and re­al­is­tic, and so it’s not re­hearsed like a bal­let. It’s rough around the edges.’’

Fans who are used to see­ing LaBeouf in boy- next- door roles may well be shocked by his new di­rec­tion.

Hav­ing stripped bare for Sigur Ros’ mu­sic video Fjogur Pi­ano , he will next star in Lars von Trier’s erotic drama Nympho­ma­niac, for which he may have to shoot real sex scenes.

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