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Why rising Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf will be the next big thing since Indiana Jones


Last updated at 17:47 03 May 2008

The problem: you have a lucrative movie franchise ... but your leading action man is increasingly creaky and unconvincing. The solution: hire a new young blade ? Spielberg's favourite coming man, Shia LaBeouf...

"Shia LaBeouf lights up the first of many cigarettes, leans towards me and carefully weighs up how good I look in his shades.

Pretty cool," he purrs approvingly. "In fact, you look way cooler in them than I do. They're yours now. For keeps."

It's less than a minute since I was first introduced to Hollywood's fastest-rising star at the door of his LA hotel suite and already he's gifting me his customised Diesel wraparounds.

But nothing is standard about Shia LaBeouf. From the crazed surreality of his childhood to his unlikely emergence as a child TV star, LaBeouf's journey to the threshold of Hollywood's A-list has defied convention every step of the way.

Now he's motorcycle delinquent Mutt Williams in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull.

The movie franchise has grossed $1.2 billion, won seven Oscars and rivals Star Wars in terms of its iconic status in popular culture. Director Steven Spielberg remarked, "Shia was my one and only choice for Mutt."

LaBeouf grew up in Echo Park, Los Angeles ? an impoverished, overwhelmingly Latino neighbourhood ? the only child of a drug-addled Vietnam-vet father and a bohemian mother.

His Cajun father trained chickens in a circus before deciding to become a professional clown, meanwhile peddling drugs to support his own escalating cocaine and heroin habit.

Shortly after LaBeouf's second birthday, the family took to working the streets in clown costumes to sell hot dogs. Quickly, he became the main attraction.

By the time he reached ten, his parents had divorced and LaBeouf was increasingly exposed to adult pastimes. When his father wasn't in rehab, he'd take his son to AA meetings and Rolling Stones concerts.

After starting in stand-up comedy as a child, LaBeouf starred in ER, The X Files and Disney films.

Spielberg cast him in Disturbia and Transformers, which earned him £200,000 and £250,000 respectively. Indiana Jones brings him his first seven-figure pay cheque.

He has made a relatively smooth transition from child actor to Hollywood star, though there have been a couple of blots on his copy book.

In 2005, he was charged with assault with a deadly weapon after allegedly ramming his car into a neighbour's vehicle, then threatening him with a knife.

The charges were later dropped. In November 2007, following a night of clubbing in Chicago, he was arrested after repeatedly refusing to leave a chemist.

More recently, a judge issued a warrant for his arrest after he failed to appear in court to face a charge of unlawful smoking.

Now 21, he lives alone in a two-bedroom house in Glendale, California.

Shia plays motorcycle delinquent Mutt Williams in Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull. Director Steven Spielberg remarked, 'Shia was my one and only choice for Mutt'

(Everything below is Shia saying it in his own words :) )

Working as a street clown at two seemed completely normal to me. I didn't know any other way of life. The way I looked at it was that when my parents were in clown make-up they weren't fighting. Nobody wants to buy hot dogs from fighting clowns. On the street everything was OK. It was a release from the tensions of home. The street was where we felt safe. That's about as normal as it got. Back home, I'd watch my father going through heroin withdrawal. That kind of thing makes you grow up fast.

Violence is something you just get used to while growing up. As a kid, I'd regularly see people get stabbed in the park across the street from our LA apartment. I was six when the LA riots broke out. The Latinos in my neighbourhood didn't want the blacks invading their turf, so they lined up along the boulevard to stop these armed gangs coming in. I remember sitting on my father's shoulders, watching from our terrace as the confrontation took shape. But I wasn't scared. It was like watching the circus. I was hardened to certain things by then.

I got into acting for the money, not the art. It was a purely financial decision. My family were broke and I didn't like the life we had. I didn't believe anything was owed to me and I knew that opportunities weren't going to drop into my lap. If doors were going to open to me, I had to force my way in there.

I had to pay my dad to be a father to me. Before I landed the role in the Disney series Even Stevens, I barely knew my dad, but because I was a minor I needed to have an adult on the set. Dad had just been released from a veterans' hospital, where he'd gone through drug withdrawal. So I paid him £400 a week to be with me. For him it wasn't about being with a son that he loved. He was rent-a-dad. He was getting some money and he was staying off the drugs. For three years we lived in a motel and that''s when I started to develop a relationship with him. In a very real sense, this business gave me my father back and I'll always be grateful for that.

It's a lot easier for me to act than to be myself. Maybe because of everything that happened to me as a kid, I've always felt more comfortable behind a veil. If acting is lying, then maybe I'm more comfortable with deceit. Which means my goal is to be the best possible liar.

If I want a movie role badly enough, I've been known to punch my way through a wall. The part of the disaffected teenager in A Guide To Recognising Your Saints strongly appealed to me because it reflected a lot of the things that had gone on in my life, particularly the difficult relationship with my father. I did one audition and they turned me down because they didn't think I was tough enough. I convinced them to give me another audition and I was determined to show that I wasn't this little Disney actor. So I walked in, looked around the room and said, "This place is so clean and tidy. But I'm about to ruin it." Then I started punching a hole in the wall. They seemed surprised, but gave me the part. Just as well, really, because otherwise I'd have been the idiot who punched a hole in the wall and still didn't get the part.

Preparing for this movie was like going into battle. I'm used to demanding shoots. For Transformers, I was required to hang from the side of a tall building and skid down a street on a Teflon plate. I've still got the scars to show for it. But Crystal Skull was something else. I've never trained so hard in my life ? working out for three hours a day, seven days a week. Harrison Ford is a badass when it comes to action scenes and he takes some keeping up with. He'll turn up in his helicopter, jump out, grab his whip and go straight to it. There was a scene early in the schedule where I had to zoom through Yale on my bike with Harrison riding shotgun. I needed to be on my A game that day.

If you want to feel real pain, try a sword fight with Cate Blanchett. It worked for me. I sustained my biggest ever injury on this shoot when fencing with Cate. My feet were awkwardly positioned; one of them slipped and I tore some muscles in my hip. It was extremely painful to walk and the pain started spreading to my groin. Now you don't want your groin to be non-operational at any time, but especially when you've got an Indiana Jones film to complete.

There's nothing cool about getting arrested for stupid stuff at my age. But it keeps happening to me. I could pretend I find all that highly amusing, but I'd be lying. It's deeply embarrassing. I decided a long time ago to stop doing stupid things, so clearly I've still got some work to do on myself. I'm not anonymous any more. When nobody knew who I was, I could afford to indulge in the kind of hedonism that teenagers have fun with. Now, I light up a cigarette in the wrong place and suddenly I'm on a crime spree. Overnight, I'm the Al Capone of misdemeanours. I'm growing up in public. What I've got in terms of acting is too important for me to jeopardise.

I'm a pretty decent drummer. I'm not in the league of guys like Buddy Rich and Keith Moon, but I'm more than capable of holding a beat. I played drums in my high school band and loved every minute of it. Like every other Jewish guy, I went through a period of wanting to be black. A few years ago I convinced myself I was a gangsta rapper and I started writing songs. But I realised it wasn't my forte.

I have my vices and that includes women. Not that I have time for relationships as such, but that doesn't mean I have to live like a monk, right? As vices go, women are right up there with my favourites. In fact, women are the best vice in the world. But I try to be respectful. Sometimes women are looking for more commitment than I'm able or willing to give. I can't commit myself to one woman for any length of time. But I love their company immensely. Being the hyper-sensitive type makes living hard and acting relatively easy. I feel everything in a major way. No matter how hard I try, nothing is casual for me. In terms of living a comfortable life, that's a disaster. In terms of acting, it's a fantastic way to be. To be a true actor, I honestly believe that you need to be broken-hearted. My own past has been rich in pain and so there's no shortage of experience to draw from.

If this is not the biggest Indiana Jones movie yet, I've got to paint Harrison Ford's garage. If it's a flop I've actually got to build him a new garage and then paint that, too. But this film is gonna be huge. It has to be ? I'm not too keen on the idea of all that painting.

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/moslive/article...iana-Jones.html

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