Method Man: Shia LaBeouf dropped acid for the sake of ‘Charlie Countryman’ art

Bryan Enk
Movie Talk
22 January 2013

For Shia LaBeouf, it's all about the influence.

Daniel Day-Lewis may have found himself a competitor for the title of Hollywood's Most Method Method Actor as the former "Transformers" star is going to dangerous and sometimes psychedelic new places in preparation for the decidedly edgier roles he's been taking on lately.

LaBeouf and Evan Rachel Wood, who's currently pregnant with her first child with husband Jamie Bell, are currently at Sundance for the world premiere of their new crime drama, "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman." During an interview with MTV News, LaBeouf was asked about his reputation for having a more "instinctual, gut-level" approach to acting, which, according to the young star, comes from a place of fear and a desire for perfection.

"I'm just scared, you know what I mean?," said the somewhat agitated though, to be fair, probably rather chilly LaBeouf. "That's what propels things like that. Being nervous that you're not going to get it right, that it's not going to be honest. You subject yourself to things; you can't choose your thoughts, you can't choose your feelings, but you can influence them. And I try to influence myself as much as possible."

In the case of "Charlie Countryman," that "influence" involves actually dropping acid to play a character who, well, drops acid. While this could certainly be seen as both irresponsible and highly risky (not to mention illegal), LaBeouf says the trick is taking it just far enough before you go too far.

"You root for it. You don't show up [on set] completely wasted or completely tripping on acid, but you're rooting for something and you're pushing towards it. Everyone's got their own way."

This isn't the first time that LaBeouf has gone in this particular "way" to prepare for a role, as he got drunk on moonshine in preparation to play a professional bootlegger in John Hillcoat's "Lawless." It's not all about the drugs and drinking, though -- there's plenty of sex involved as well, as will reportedly be the case with Lars Von Trier's latest controversy-in-the-making, "The Nymphomaniac."

"There's a disclaimer at the top of the script that basically says, 'We’re doing it for real,'" LaBeouf revealed in an interview with Entertainment Weekly last summer. “Anything that is 'illegal' will be shot in blurred images. But other than that, everything is happening ... It's going to be a wild movie, man."

LaBeouf pushing himself with both his choices of recent roles and the methods through which he prepares for them seems to come from a considerable restlessness that caused the actor to denounce the big-budget studio projects for which he had been known (such as the "Transformers" series and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") and pursue a career in independent film.

"There's no room for being a visionary in the studio system. It literally cannot exist," LaBeouf said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last summer. "You give Terrence Malick a movie like 'Transformers,' and he's f**ked. There's no way for him to exist in that world."

LaBeouf also sang the praises of indie film company Voltage Pictures, which financed "Lawless." "These dudes are a miracle. They give you the money, and they trust you -- [unlike the studios, which] give you the money, then get on a plane and come to the set and stick a finger up your ass and chase you around for five months."

It remains to be seen whether LaBeouf will indeed set up permanent camp outside the studio system or if he'll find some sort of balance between the two worlds. For now, let's hope he doesn't "root" too deeply with getting into character for any future roles.

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