Shia LaBeouf Explains His Existential Crisis, How Finding God 'Saved' Him

The actor also discusses his past bizarre behavior

Photo: Courtesy Interview Magazine

Not surprisingly, Shia LaBeouf looks up to actors who he says have dealt with darkness: Gary Oldman, Sean Penn and Joaquin Phoenix.

But the man he credits with helping him early on? Ben Affleck, who produced his 2003 comedy-drama The Battle of Shaker Heights.

“Ben is a really charming dude,” he says in the November cover story for Interview, on newsstands Nov. 11. “He was the first guy who really took me off to the side and made me feel like I could do it.”

What Affleck told LaBeouf proved to be sage advice, especially as the former child star recovers from a year of bizarre behavior and brushes with the law.

“[He said,] ‘Keep your head on straight, kid, and don’t let all this get to you.’ He knew that I had cameras in my face and that there were expectations to perform. I think that’s always been my issue. I’m prone to theatrics in my life,” LaBeouf, 28, tells the magazine. “Ben saw that and was trying to curb it before it became an issue.”

“He was unsuccessful,” he adds, laughing.

LaBeouf’s recent antics are well-documented, from fighting with Alec Baldwin during rehearsals for the play Orphans (they’ve since made peace) and plagiarizing his apology for plagiarizing a graphic novelist (he says he was trying to be ironic) to being arrested for disturbing Cabaret (he was drunkenly trying to create performance art).

Now, LaBeouf says he’s taking control and coming out of an “existential crisis” caused by fame.

“I’ve been a runner my whole life, running from myself,” he explains. “Whether to movies or drinking and drugging or f—ing calamity or whatever it is, I’ve always been running. I’m a dude who loves delusion. It’s why I love being an actor – I never have to actually look at myself or be faced with my s— or take responsibility.”

Playing a religious soldier in the Brad Pitt-led World War II drama Fury also influenced his new view on life.

“I found God doing Fury,” he says. “I became a Christian man, and not in a f—ing bulls— way – in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it. It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.”

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