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Actor Shia LaBeouf opened up about the role he said led to his conversion to Catholicism and helped him find faith during a time in his life he called very dark. He said he always had a belief, but no connection.
During the 36-year-old actor’s appearance on Bishop Barron Presents “Conversations at the Crossroads,” LaBeouf talked about studying for his role as the late mystic St. Padre Pio in the upcoming film, “Padre Pio.” He said he was “never an atheist,” but instead agnostic and credited “Pio” with saving his “life” at a time he described as “nuclear” because roles had dried up. In 2021, LeBeouf was facing a variety of allegations, including abuse.
In preparation for the role he believed would finally restart his career, the director told Shia he would need to do some research and go to a seminary. LaBeouf ended up going to a seminary near his home and met Brother Jude, who told him if he’s going to play Pio, he needs to read the Gospel. LeBeouf started doing just that at a time when he felt hopeless.
“I had a gun on the table. I was outta here,” the “Holes” star admitted. “I didn’t want to be alive anymore when all of this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe. You don’t know where to go. You can’t go outside to get like, a taco. But I was also in this deep desire to hold on.”
“It stops being this prep of a movie and starts being something that feels beyond all that,” he added. “The reach-out had happened. I was already there; I had nowhere to go. This was the last stop on the train. There was nowhere else to go — in every sense.”
“I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him,” LaBeouf continued. “Drawing me away from worldly desires. It was all happening simultaneously. But there would have been no impetus for me to get in my car, drive up [to the seminary] if I didn’t think, ‘Oh, I’m gonna save my career.’”
The “Transformers” star said he almost felt like he was tricked in some way, but “not in a bad way.” He said that was because he couldn’t see that he was being brought to God at the time because he was “so close to it.” He added that he sees “it differently now because time has passed.”
“It was seeing other people who have sinned beyond anything I could ever conceptualize also being found in Christ that made me feel like, ‘Ok well, that gives me hope,’” the movie star explained. “I started hearing experiences of other depraved people who had found their way in this, and it made me feel like I had permission.”