The Transformers star, American actor Shia LaBeouf, converted to Catholicism after studying the life of "Padre Pio" to play the character of the Franciscan Capuchin.
LaBeouf, 36, told Bishop Barron of the Dioceses of Winona-Rochester, that the traditional Catholic Mass in Latin was the key to his [LaBeouf's] conversion and his performance as an actor playing Pio.
The director of the "Padre Pio" film, Abel Ferrara, met an atheist LaBeouf at the online Zoom meeting of "Fellowship of the Down-and-outs" and asked LaBeouf to play "Pio" in the film.
Ferrara guided him through the film's planning and suggested research at a Capuchin monastery. It was the starting point for a big change in his attitude toward God.
LaBeouf lived with a monastery of Franciscan Capuchin friars to understand more about the life of the late mystic St. Padre Pio (1887–1968), whom he will play in the movie.
"The reach-out had happened to me. 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," LaBeouf said.
He said that he saw the outreach as "a miracle."
"I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him, drawing me away from worldly desires," he continued. It was all happening simultaneously."
In the last few years, before he met with Director Ferrara in the zoom meeting, LaBeouf was so depressed because of his public scandals.
In October 2020, he was charged with misdemeanor battery and other cases after verbally and physically fighting with Tyler Murphy in June 2020. This fighting resulted in LaBeouf stealing Murphy’s hat.
A few months later, Tahliah Debrett Barnett, known professionally as FKA Twigs, an English singer, songwriter, and dancer, sued him with the accusation of "relentless abuse."
Another former girlfriend and stylist, Karolyn Pho, also accused him of abuse in the lawsuit for head-butting until bleeding.
During these dark days, he revealed how he was so depressed that he almost committed suicide.
The actor recalled, "I had a gun on the table. I was outta here. I did not want to be alive anymore when all of this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before—the kind of a shame that you forget how to breathe."
La Beouf admitted his feeling of losing his future due to the failure of his designs, the disappearance of his plan, and serious pain and damage to other people. He did not want to live anymore.
His life was changed from hopelessness to hope by staying with the Franciscan Capuchin Friars in a monastery to study the life of "Padre Pio."
"It was seeing other people who have sinned beyond anything I could ever conceptualize also being found in Christ that made me feel like, ‘Oh, that gives me hope,’" LaBeouf told the bishop.
LaBeouf admitted that he was "tricked" by God in a good way, which he did not realize until some "time had passed."
"I did not know I was baptized. I had been baptized earlier in my life and did not even remember it. My uncle had baptized me in the [Trinitarian formula]," he said.
The "Padre Pio" movie is set for release in the United States in September, and it marks the return of actor Shia LaBeouf to acting again in 2020.
Francesco Forgione, OFM Cap, is better known as Padre Pio and also as Saint Pius of Pietrelcina. He was a popular Italian Franciscan Capuchin priest known for his stigmata, or crucifixion wounds on the body of Jesus Christ. He died in 1968 at the age of 81 and was canonized in 2002 by Pope John Paul II. - With inputs from independent.co.uk, ew.com
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