Hitting rock bottom and wanting to end it all, Shia LaBeouf is opening up about how the gospel of Jesus radically changed his life.
LaBeouf plays the lead character in a new film called Padre Pio and the Friars. Coming into acting this part, Laboeuf was in desperate need of help.
"When I walked into this, my life was on fire," says Leboeuf in an interview with Bishop Barron Presents. "I was walking out of hell. It wasn't like I willingly came in here on a white horse singing show tunes. I came in here on fire. I didn't want to be an actor anymore and my life was a complete mess."
The actor goes on to explain that he was struggling with deep depression and shame that even kept him inside often.
"I had a yearning to not be here anymore. I was on my way out. I was experiencing the kind of shame where you forget how to breathe."
That's where Laboeuf was mentally when he, for some reason, said he would take on this new role in the film.
"Pain made me willing to go about this in a different way than I had previously. My opinion about God before the pain struck, before my world crumbled was, art, love, and God, they all mean the same thing. As an artist that creates art, I found myself in a 'godly' position often, where I was in charge."
The way he was raised, LaBeouf was under the impression that everything he did fell on his shoulders, which added weight to his life, and made it hard for him to believe in God.
"When all of my designs failed, when all my plans went out the window, when my life had led to serious pain, damage, and infliction onto other people, I threw up my hands. I thought, my plans are garbage and I don't want to be here anymore."
The film is based on the book Padre Pio: Man of Hope by Renzo Allegri and it depicts the real-life events of a Roman Catholic friar and later Saint Pio of Pietrelcina.
Working on the film opened LaBeouf's eyes to the fact that God was real. He started doing research and went to the nearest seminary called Saint Lorenzo. He got to know some of the priests, particularly one named Brother Jude.
"He started talking to me about the gospel. He said, 'If you're going to be playing Pio, you need to read the gospel.' Things started to strike me."
Reading the book of Matthew for the first time, LaBeouf says it came alive to him.
"If I had to wrap up the gospel in two words, it would be 'Let go.' At that time when I was reading it, I was holding on so tight to a life that was slipping away through my hands and the gospel gave me this invite to just let go. Complete surrender for real."
LaBeouf found a community that loved him at a time his own mother wouldn't speak to him. A quote spoken by Mother Teresa about prayer changed his life.
"A thought came to call my mother. I said, 'I don't have much to say to you but I love you and I'm safe.' She says, 'I'm so grateful.'"
After getting off the phone with his mom, LaBeouf felt a peace he'd never experienced before.
"Before this, my purpose was just to be a good actor, like the dream of an ant. Doing this movie, they asked me what I'm good at. I said 'I'm good at bleeding.' So the question was, you're good at suffering, so how are you going to help other people with that? That's your purpose."
Continuing through filming this role, LaBeouf was almost no longer acting, but living a new-found faith and hope.
Listen to the whole interview in the video below.