The director of Shia LaBeouf’s first movie in 3 years thinks the controversial actor deserves forgiveness
In 2020, Shia LaBeouf‘s career imploded after a series of disturbing abuse allegations came to light. His ex-partner – singer FKA Twigs – sued him for sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress, with specific allegations of strangling her and knowingly infecting her with an STD. This seemed to be part of the worrying pattern, with another former partner Karolyn Pho saying he once pinned her to a bed and head-butted her until she was bleeding.
LaBeouf admitted he’d been “abusive” and apologized, promptly entering rehab for alcohol abuse. His trial is scheduled for the end of 2023, though he’s already on the comeback trail. His first starring role in three years will be in Abel Ferrara’s Padre Pio, in which he’ll try to get audiences to forget about the shocking allegations of sexual abuse against him by playing… uh, a Catholic priest. Yeah, that’ll do it!
Ferrara has been asked by MovieWeb why he wanted to work with LaBeouf now, and he offered his explanation.
“He’d just had a religious conversion. He had just begun recovery. You know, I’m in recovery, so we had that in common. What I wanted, he got it, you know. And I didn’t know a lot about him. I don’t need to know about somebody’s work. I just go with my gut feeling man, especially with actors. I could feel it was right. I knew it was right. And he immediately jumped in his truck and took off for wherever, that mission outside of LA, with the Franciscan monks. And he just sat in the parking lot. Okay, finally they came out and said, ‘What are you doing?’ He said, ‘I’m gonna play Padre Pio. These guys, they’re not cynical, it’s not an attitude, so it’s like, ‘Okay, fine, come on inside.’ And then he began his new journey into Catholicism.”
The ability of white male actors to mount a successful comeback after doing truly heinous acts never fails to surprise, with even Mel Gibson just about managing to claw his way back into Hollywood’s good graces.
Ferrara was asked whether it’s really a good idea to cast an actor soon to go on trial for sexual, physical and emotional abuse:
“Forgiveness is what it’s all about, what Christ is all about. And you know, if you can’t find that… I mean, a lot of people can’t. I know it’s not easy. It’s very, very difficult. It’s the hardest thing to pray for your enemy, to turn the other cheek, find forgiveness, that’s like, it’s easy to say, not easy to do. But if you can’t find it, I don’t see any hope, because we’re all sinners. I mean, we all have the capacity to be sinners. Very few of us walk in Jesus’ shoes.”
True enough, we suppose. Hey, maybe if Jesus was around and looking for someone for a starring role in their movie, who’s to say he wouldn’t cast someone who (as per FKA Twigs) boasted about randomly shooting stray dogs? It’s also worth noting that he’s changed his tune, despite initially apologizing his legal team is now arguing that FKA Twigs suffered no “injury or loss” and that she’s not “entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever.”
Padre Pio hits theaters on June 2.