The actor, who will give the saint's face in his next film, has begun a journey of faith. Known to audiences, among other films, for starring in the first three installments of Transformers, Shia LaBeouf a radical transformation has indeed been experienced, but on the set of his next film, Padre Pio. The 36-year-old actor has always described himself as Jewish, so much so that he contributed an essay to Judea Pearl's book I Am Jewish. And he has repeatedly made it clear that religion "never made sense to him." Now, however, he has revealed that he converted to Catholicism precisely while preparing to play the saint of Pietrelcina in Abel Ferrara's film.
Shia LaBeouf converted to Catholicism
Shia LaBeouf talked about his conversion during a Youtube interview with U.S. Bishop Robert Emmet Barron, known as the "bishop of social media" because of the huge following he gets on the Internet through his videos. The actor explained that he had his first real contact with the Catholic Church while living in a monastery of Capuchin friars to better understand the personality of Padre Pio.
The actor recounted that his encounter with God came as a surprise at the end of a search that began during the darkest moment of his life, after a series of public scandals. In fact, the actor was arrested several times from 2007 to 2017 for affray, harassing conduct, outrage, and resistance during demonstrations. In 2020 he was accused by his ex-girlfriend of harassment and battery.
Finding meaning in existence
At that time, he recounted, "I had a gun on the table. I didn't want to live anymore. I felt shame like never before, the kind of shame that makes you forget to breathe. You don't know where to go. You don't know what to do." But at the same time, "I also had a deep desire to endure." And so, to rise from the abyss, he joined different religious groups to find meaning in existence.
Encounter with God
"Now," he explained during the interview, "I know that God was using my ego to draw me to himself. I was totally focused on my career. And I would never have gotten in the car to drive to the monastery if I hadn't thought 'Oh, this way I can save my career'" thanks to an extraordinary performance by Padre Pio. But when he arrived, "a change happened." As, in contact with the Capuchins, he studied to get into character, the actor explains that he felt "deceived by God. Not in a negative way, but in a way I could not understand."
Between sin and forgiveness
What pushed him toward conversion, he revealed to the bishop, was above all his understanding of the Christian way of interpreting sin and forgiveness. A vision capable of lifting him up and bringing him out of the darkest period of his life. The actor explained that he never felt worthy of getting any kind of mercy. Until he met other people who had struggled, in a moral sense, in ways he had never seen before, and who had achieved peace.
"I saw other people who had sinned beyond imagination finding themselves in Christ, and that that gave me hope. I started to listen to the experiences of other people who had found their way, and that made me feel like I had permission to do that too." And in his faith journey, (for which he stressed that the traditional form of the Mass celebrated in Latin was crucial) he even discovered that he had already been baptized, "I didn't even remember, but my uncle had."