The line between Shia LaBeouf the actor, and Shia LaBeouf the person, is a thin one — if it exists at all.
“I don’t have a big line, like this is the work and this is the life part,” LaBeouf told the press at the Toronto International Film Festival, where his new film Man Down premieres on Tuesday.
“That’s me up there, that’s my soul up there . . . It’s all me up there.”
The former child-actor’s odd and erratic behaviour off set has eclipsed some of his work in recent years. But taking the lead role in this film, directed by Dito Montiel, appealed to LaBeouf because he knew he would be working with his friends, he said.
“The father-son stuff reminded me of Kramer vs. Kramer, my favourite movie. Deer Hunter meets Kramer vs. Kramer, if I was pitching it to somebody,” Labeouf said with a smile.
“I knew I’d be with my friends, it just felt like a really good movie for me.”
In Man Down, LaBeouf plays Gabriel Drummer, a former Marine who returns from war to a post-apocalyptic society and pieces together the memories of his past life.
Adam Simon, the film’s writer, said that he started working on the script while he was homeless himself. A letter Drummer writes to his son in the movie, Simon said, was based on a letter he wrote to his own son from a parking garage he called home one night.
“I was living on the street when I started writing Man Down,” Simon said. “The story started out being a little autobiographical but I got away from that . . . It was more important to tell story of veterans that were on the street in the same predicament that I was.”
LaBeouf stars alongside Kate Mara, who plays his wife in the film.
“I couldn’t put the script down,” Mara said on Tuesday, adding that she had always wanted to work with LaBeouf and Montiel. “To me the story was a surprise constantly which is nice, and was one of the reasons that I wanted to tell this story.”
Gary Oldman also plays the military psychiatrist who interviews LaBeouf’s character. “He’s like this father figure for me,” LaBeouf said about Oldman.
“He’s really sweet with me, he always has been. He’s not shy about throwing love around. He’s in my corner . . . it feels like that.”