More than four years after Shia LaBeouf filmed the series finale for the hit Disney Channel program “Even Stevens,” the show that made him an Emmy Award-winning actor and heartthrob to pre-teen girls across America can still be seen in syndication. But at a post-pubescent 20 years of age, LaBeouf wants nothing to do with the path to celebrity so often taken by former Disney stars.
“I’m not a personality,” he said. “That’s garbage. There’s no substance to that at all. I want to be an actor.”
Luckily for LaBeouf, Mickey Mouse isn’t exactly blocking Hollywood from knocking on his door with roles of substance. On April 13, LaBeouf’s first foray as a leading man hit theaters across the nation as the thriller “Disturbia” made its debut.
Set in a seemingly typical suburb, “Disturbia” follows the life of Kale Brecht (LaBeouf), a troubled teen on house arrest who spies on his neighbors for entertainment. But the reality comes too close to home when Kale and his friends find reason to believe that neighbor Mr. Turner (David Morse) is a cold-blooded serial killer.
The film has been criticized for its similarity to Alfred Hitchcock’s classic “Rear Window.” But at a press event at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on March 26, LaBeouf said there are clear differences between the films.
“[The movies share] the basic story plot of the person locked up in a house in solitude, traipsing on other people because he’s scared to look at himself, which I think we dove deeper with than ‘Rear Window’,” he said.
“‘Rear Window’ is a big romance and there were aspects of the thriller [genre], whereas our movie jumps around. There’s thriller, there’s romance. It’s a genre jumper.”
But for LaBeouf, “Disturbia” is just one of many projects in the works. This summer, the actor will star in Michael Bay’s highly anticipated “Transformers,” based on the popular action figure, comic book and television show franchise about extraordinary robots. LaBeouf said he was attracted to the project because of the franchise’s loyal following.
“The reason it’s different is because when you think about a dude in a cape, guy in a Spiderman costume-they’re great ideas, they’re historical ideas, but is it really tangible?” he said. “Is it realistic? Is someone really going to save me in a cape? Do I really want to be saved by a guy? Do I want him to hold me as we fly through the sky? Whereas with something like ‘Transformers,’ technology taking over humanity is a real idea.”
While LaBeouf said his role in “Disturbia” required more of him mentally, he said that working with Michael Bay on “Transformers” was physically exhausting.
“He’s an adrenaline junky,” he said of the director. “The ‘Transformers’ set moves like this: You’ll show up, do hair and make-up and whatever. Then you’ll go to set and they’ll blow a car up. Then they’ll light 25 guys on fire. They’ll drop a helicopter. They’ll blow the Orpheum Theater up. Then they’ll have a robot walk through the streets. They’ll shut the streets down. They’ll blow the streets up, and this is all before lunch with no rehearsal.”
With the drama from “Disturbia” and the action from “Transformers” behind him, LaBeouf said he was looking forward to returning to his comedic roots as host of “Saturday Night Live,” which aired last Saturday.
“For a dude that came from comedy, it doesn’t get bigger than that,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing you can possibly get to.”
But it seems clear that the actor’s biggest project has yet to come. On Friday, producer George Lucas and director Steven Spielberg announced that LaBeouf will star alongside Harrison Ford in the fourth “Indiana Jones” film, the first in 20 years.
“If it were to happen, I’d be thrilled,” LaBeouf said before his role was announced. “But right now it’s just a rumor that I started on the Internet.”
Despite all of the projects on the horizon, LaBeouf said the exposure has yet to result in fan hysteria.
“It doesn’t happen to me,” he said, “not yet.”
Nick Maslow may be contacted at email@example.com.