‘You Don’t Really Know What It Is To Be A Man’: Actor Shia LaBeouf Discusses Cultural Absence Of Masculinity

"There's no puberty ceremony for a young man, today"

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 03: Shia LaBeouf attends the 23rd Annual Hollywood Film Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on November 03, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California.
Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic via Getty Images

Actor Shia LaBeouf discussed the absence of discussing and understanding real masculinity in our culture during a sit-down conversation with Bishop Robert Barron published this week.

LaBeouf has recently opened up about finding hope in God and converting to Catholicism. The conversion came while the 36-year-old actor was preparing for his role as the late mystic St. Padre Pio in the upcoming film, “Padre Pio.”

“He keeps saying to me, ‘don’t make him [St. Padre Pio] weak’ — like, meek and weak are two different things,” LaBeouf told Bishop Barron, recalling what priest Father James told him during his preparation for the role.

LaBeouf explained to the bishop that he, as a person who was never taught real masculinity, didn’t understand the difference between the two.

“’Let me explain the difference to you between being meek and being weak,’” the “American Honey” actor recalled Father James telling him. “’Meek is to be treasured, meek is to be valued, meek is a submissive respect; weak is having no faith’ — he starts explaining stuff like that to me.”

LaBeouf said his understanding of meek was far different, noting that he never had a “puberty ceremony,” though he had participated in the Jewish ritual of a bar mitzvah at age 13.

“It’s not like I wandered off into the woods and I came back with a lion’s head,” he explained. “There’s no puberty ceremony for a young man today.”

“That’s a problem in our culture,” Bishop Barron interjected. “We’ve forgotten how to do that.”

“Yes, and you don’t really know what it is to be a man,” LaBeouf asserted.

The actor said Father James likened masculinity to a mountain, “because it’s immovable; wind is not going to move a mountain.”

“And then we start talking about my wife, and what a wife wants in a man, and being stable, and where that stability comes from in a man,” the 36-year-old continued, “and that it’s not going to be something you will, it’s going to be something you lean on. And that mountain is in that chapel.”

As highlighted by The Daily Wire, during the same sit-down, LeBeouf talked about how his sufferings are a gift, specifically referencing his ex-girlfriend, singer FKA Twigs, and accusations of abuse she’s leveled in a civil lawsuit against the actor.

“The suffering is actually a gift … you blessed me with this,” LeBeouf told Bishop Barron. “Old me, when I walked in, was so upset, so resentful of the woman who accused me of all this. I wanted to go on Twitter and write all these things, and I wanted to justify this, and explain all this. And now, I actually see, like, the woman saved my life.”

“She is, for me, a saint in my life. She saved my life,” he continued. “And that perspective switch feels miraculous.”

“What a spiritual experience is for me is not like talking to a cloud, or like supernatural; in my life, it’s a change in perspective,” LeBeouf added. “That feels miraculous to me. There’s no other way I could have done it on my own.”

FKA Twigs, real name Tahliah Debrett Barnett, filed a civil lawsuit against her ex LaBeouf for alleged abuse, sexual battery, assault, and emotional distress, according to Pitchfork. A court date is slated for April 17, 2023.

“What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life,” the singer told The New York Times in 2020. “I don’t think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody.”

LaBeouf the same year told the Times via email, “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”

During the sit-down with Bishop Barron, LaBeouf repeatedly alluded to and discussed his past, which he said was filled with him hurting the people he loved the most. He also recalled a fallout with his mother sparked by his ex-girlfriend’s accusations, which included LaBeouf shooting at stray dogs to get into a role and knowingly giving Twigs an STD.

“I had a gun on the table. I was outta here,” LaBeouf said of his low point. “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.”

Related: Shia LaBeouf Discusses Role That Led To His Conversion To Catholicism, ‘Saved My Life’

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