Shia LaBeouf packed on about 40 pounds to play Jack Bondurant in the gangster film "Lawless," and the actor, who became a heartthrob thanks to his role in the "Transformers" franchise, says the process of his weight gain made him feel like "quite an ugly person" - on the inside.
"I became very, very vain about size," he said. "I became goal-oriented with my body, which is vanity and that creates like megalomania, which is disgusting. And you sweat a lot and you snore a lot."
LaBeouf, 26, made his comments in a satellite interview with OTRC.com and other outlets before the theatrical release of "Lawless" on Wednesday, August 29. The film, which the actor calls a "family movie," is set in Virginia during the Prohibition era. His character is the youngest brother of Forrest and Howard Bondurant, played by British actor Tom Hardy, last seen as the villain Bane in "The Dark Knight Rises," and Jason Clarke.
The three run a bootlegging business that comes under threat by local authorities. Guy Pearce stars as Special Agent Charlie Rakes, while Jessica Chastain plays Forrest's love interest. LaBeouf's character romances Bertha, a preacher's daughter, played by Mia Wasikowska. Dane DeHaan, who played Jesse in the HBO series "In Treatment," portrays Jack's best friend, Cricket.
Check out 7 facts about Shia LaBeouf and "Lawless."
1. Shia LaBeouf, Tom Hardy and Jason Clarke had to change their diets for "Lawless."
"[Tom Hardy is] quite a big boy and so just to feel like we were from the same tribe, I think standing next to him I felt like I was a foreigner, and so he had to drop some weight and I had to gain some weight and we sort of leveled out," LaBeouf said.
"We'd cast Tom Hardy as my older brother and Jason Clarke as his older brother and so standing next to them I felt really meek and different feel I was from the same fabric of man," he added. "And so they had to drop and I had to gain and we had to sort of level out so at least our silhouettes looked like the same person."
The actor said on "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" earlier this month that he gained about 40 pounds for his role in "Lawless."
"Every three hours, you're consuming," LaBeouf said about his technique.
2. Shia LaBeouf says gaining weight made him feel ugly and more vain.
"Gaining weight, especially for a man, I'm sure for a woman as well, innately changes everything about your entire life," he said. "Everything. I mean, the eating and the gaining and the gym is one thing but the way you walk around, the way you deal with yourself. I mean, your vanity level is heavy."
"If you're eating for objectives, you're in the mirror all the time in a way that I've never been in a mirror," the actor added. "It actually made me quite an ugly person in terms of my vanity. I became very, very vain about size. I became goal-oriented with my body, which is vanity and that creates like a megalomania, which is disgusting. And you sweat a lot and you snore a lot."
3. But after "Lawless," Shia LaBeouf had to lose weight - by order of Robert Redford.
"As soon as I got off 'Lawless,' I signed up for a movie with Robert Redford and I was playing more of a vulnerable guy than even Jack, in a reporter, sort of a nebbishy guy and I was told by Redford that I had to lose the weight immediately, so I had a month to drop a lot of weight," LaBeouf said.
He is referring to the thriller The Company You Keep," which is set for release later this year. Redford directs and stars in the film.
4. Shia LaBeouf wrote his co-star, Tom Hardy, fan mail.
"I think I innately had a whole bunch of Jack in me to begin with and I think a lot of that sort of showed its face when I wrote Tom Hardy a fan letter to get him to join the movie. Already our Jack-Forrest dichotomy had started then. And so my research on a bevy of topics related to Jack, not just moonshine, but his family in West Virginia and the cars."
5. Shia LaBeouf compares his car driving stunts in "Lawless" to attempting ballet.
"The cars was a big deal, for me and [co-star] Dane [DeHaan]," he said. "The cars was tough. The cars was the hardest, actually. It's like ballet. It's like learning ballet. Driving those cars."
" I remember being really hard on myself about that," he said. "Me and Dane were supposed to be champion drivers. That's hard thing to do in three months. Really become one with the machine that way. That was very difficult. I think that was the only part of the movie that felt like we were really trying to make work. Everything else just kind of fit into place."
"Cars are very difficult," he added. "You look down at the bottom of that floorboard, it looks like there's 40 pedals. You've got to be a centipede to drive it."
6. Shia LaBeouf really loves his "Lawless" co-stars, compares them to the "X-Men."
"It was a beautiful group to be around. I like to think of us as 'X-men' - everyone had their own little special power. Jess was definitely the referee - she definitely kept us all friendly."
"I mean it's all love all around," he said. "Everybody loves everybody, really, now. I've never had an experience quite like this and what I mean by, you know, the differences of a 'Transformers' versus something like this - I still look at these people and still have the same feelings I needed on the day. I still look up to Hardy in the same way, I still feel about Jason the same way and Mia. Those feelings don't go away when they're built up in the way that these were. It's all love. These are great, great actors and great people and it was a blast, actually."
7. Shia LaBeouf loves violent movies.
"I love violent movies. That's all I can say," he said. "I know that I don't watch 'Reservoir Dogs' and get up and go pick up my shotgun and walk through the streets. So I don't know how it affects other people and I can't really speak for other people. I do know that I really enjoy violent films and that's just my sensibilities and my nature as a 26-year-old man. And I bet you'd be hard-pressed to find any 26-year-old man on this planet that doesn't enjoy a bit of violence in his movies."