Troubled Jewish Hollywood Star Goes Christian

Shia LaBeouf gets into new role by having tooth pulled, cutting face with knife, getting tattooed - and converting to Christianity.

Ari Yashar,

Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf

Hollywood star Shia LaBeouf, born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father, has recently suffered an "existential crisis" while displaying ever stranger and stranger behavior, including plagiarism and disorderly conduct.

Speaking to Interview Magazine, the child actor who launched his career at the age of 12 and made it big with the Transformers series revealed the latest in his series of unexpected moves - converting to Christianity.

LaBeouf's decision to convert came while playing Boyd "Bible" Swan, a devout Christian in his new World War II movie Fury that was released this month, and which he filmed with co-star Brad Pitt and under director David Ayer.

"I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a (expletive) (expletive) way - in a very real way," LaBeouf told the magazine. "I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me."

The actor continued "it’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control. And while there’s beauty to that, acting is all about control. So that was a wild thing to navigate. I had good people around me who helped me. Brad (Pitt) was really instrumental in guiding my head through this."

Pitt was raised in an evangelical family, but left the religion while maintaining his spirituality, while LaBeouf says Ayer "is a full subscriber to Christianity...these two diametrically opposed positions both lead to the same spot, and I really looked up to both men."

This was not the only startling change LaBeouf made to get into his role for the movie - he also had a tooth removed, cut his own face with a knife repeatedly to put scars on his face, and got a tattoo.

"I kept thinking, 'oh, man, something has to happen,'" LaBeouf said in the interview. "So, I took this tooth out. I tattooed ‘Surrender to Jesus,’ and I felt that. Yeah, you give it everything you got."

A "cocky" Jew going through crisis?

LaBeouf had previously described himself as both Jewish and Christian, saying he was raised on "both sides," having a Bar Mitzvah ceremony and also being baptized.

In contributing to a book called "I am Jewish" in 2004, he wrote it was "beneficial to be Jewish" and that he had a "personal relationship with God that happens to work within the confines of Judaism."

The actor also wrote "really, I feel cocky when I say I am Jewish, not bad cocky, but good cocky. Because what I am really saying is that I am one of the few chosen ones out there."

However, in recent months LaBeouf has been spiraling in ever more bizarre displays accompanied by checking into rehab, after being arrested in New York for criminal trespassing, disorderly conduct and harassment for shouting out curses during a Broadway performance of Cabaret.

LaBeouf was also found to have plagiarized his 2012 short film from Daniel Clowes's 2007 graphic novel Justin M. Damiano, and he apologized for it on Twitter - with apparently plagiarized apologies.

He also appeared at the Oscars with a brown paper bag over his head with "I'm not famous anymore" written on it, part of a performance art installation in which he had people come into a room where he sat in a chair with the bag over his head crying.

"I’ve been going through an existential crisis,” LaBeouf admitted to Interview Magazine. “If you look at my behavior, it’s been motivated by a certain discourse. Metamodernism has influenced a lot of my action in the public in this last year and a half - the idea of diametrically opposed ideas happening all at once: the irony and the sincerity, birth and death, the immediacy and the obsolescence."