Shia LaBeouf cast as saint Padre Pio in ‘comeback’ film after sex abuse lawsuit

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Shia LaBeouf is hoping to transform his career.

The former Disney Channel star is plotting a comeback after a string of career-canceling abuse charges and allegations — by playing a real-life saint in controversial director Abel Ferrara’s newest film.

The 70-year-old filmmaker told Variety that LaBeouf, 35, is on board to play the lead role in his next movie, which will center on the life of Italian saint Padre Pio. Willem Dafoe, Ferrara’s friend and frequent collaborator, is also eyeing a role in the drama.

“We’re doing a film about Padre Pio, he’s a monk from Puglia. It’s set in Italy right after World War I. He’s now a saint, he had stigmata. He was also in the middle of a very heavy political period in world history,” Ferrara said. “He was very young before he became a saint, so Shia LaBeouf is going to play the monk.”

Padre Pio was born Francesco Forgione in southern Italy in 1887. He became famous for showing stigmata, or crucifixion wounds like those on the body of Jesus Christ. He passed away in 1968 at the age of 81, was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999 and then canonized in 2002. Ferrara previously made a short documentary on the religious figure.

Meanwhile, the “Transformers” star had several bouts of legal trouble in 2020. In October, LaBeouf was charged with two misdemeanors — petty theft and battery — after he stole a man’s hat in a fight that turned physical. Just a couple of months later, his ex-girlfriend and pop star FKA Twigs sued him over his alleged abusive behavior.

Another ex-girlfriend was listed in the lawsuit and also claimed LaBeouf was abusive toward her.

“It’s a miracle I came out alive,” the 33-year-old British singer told Elle back in February regarding her relationship with LaBeouf. “I used to get this feeling of intense fear and shame, and I would evaporate from people’s lives. If you’re not talking to your friends or your family about what you’re going through, then there’s no one to regulate your emotions or affirm how you’re feeling. There’s no one to tell you that you’re in a dangerous situation.”

In May, LaBeouf was ordered by a judge to attend therapy, anger-management classes as well as wear a SoberLink device and submit to random alcohol testing.

“King of New York” Ferrera director plans to start shooting on location in Puglia, Italy, in late October. He told the publication the film is “bigger” than many of his recent features, adding that he has been spending a lot of time working on it. The recent addition of LaBeouf to the project means that it’s “all set” to start filming soon.

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