Given the various controversies that have dogged the star for years, the idea of Shia LaBeouf playing a saint is guaranteed to generate plenty of headlines.
And yet, LaBeouf is on the path to sainthood.
Having taken a break from the acting game and checked into rehab following a recent set of serious accusations being leveled against him, it looks as though the 35 year-old could be set for the comeback trail already. Director Abel Ferrara, famed for a string of noir thrillers including King of New York and Bad Lieutenant, revealed that LaBeouf will play a younger version of Italian Saint Padre Pio in an upcoming biopic.
“We’re doing a film about Padre Pio, he’s a monk from Puglia. It’s set in Italy right after World War I. He’s now a saint, he had stigmata. He was also in the middle of a very heavy political period in world history. He was very young before he became a saint, so Shia LaBeouf is going to play the monk.”
Francesco Forgione was born in 1887 in southern Italy. He was one of the more polarizing religious “celebrities” of his era. He gained attention among the Catholic community by exhibiting stigmata, before becoming a hugely popular figure during the nation’s difficult period between the first and second World Wars. Padre Pio died in 1968 at the age of 81, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999, and finally canonized three years later.
Ferrara is no stranger to controversy himself, and the idea of a figure like Shia LaBeouf embodying someone who literally went on to become a saint is sure to ignite plenty of fury among his detractors. Willem Dafoe is also said to be circling a role in the project, which the director hopes will shoot on location as soon as October, pending financing and distribution deals being secured.
LaBeouf hasn’t publicly addressed the movie as of yet, but it’ll be interesting to see what his first comments are.