Shia LaBeouf Gets Behind The Camera For Rapper Cage

'I like working with artists who I respect,' actor says of directing 'I Never Knew You' music video, possible film.

LOS ANGELES — He’s one of Hollywood’s most in-demand young actors, and this summer he’ll be seen once again going full-throttle with the Transformers. But when [movieperson id="313344"]Shia LaBeouf[/movieperson] recently got a few days away from Michael Bay’s mega-franchise, we discovered that the 22-year-old actor is also more than meets the eye — because what he really wants to do is direct.

“I’m a fan,” LaBeouf told us of Cage, the New York rapper whose music means so much to the Hollywood star that Shia is directing his video for the song [url id="http://newsroom.mtv.com/2009/03/18/cage-teams-up-with-shia-labeouf-for-i-never-knew-you-video/"]“I Never Knew You.”[/url] “Like four years ago, I got in touch with him. It was super Hollywood, like an ‘I’ll have my people call your people’ type of thing. But his people really didn’t exist in the form of my people.”

We caught up with LaBeouf in an editing bay as he cut the music video, and the actor told us that after following Cage (whose real name is Chris Palko) on tour, he’s convinced that the hip-hop star’s story would make for a great movie. “I came out during the Hell’s Winter Tour and started filming him on that tour for, like, weeks and weeks — almost two months. We just jumped around, city to city, and we became friends that way.

“My plan was always selfish,” revealed LaBeouf, whose only previous directorial credit is the 2004 silent short “Let’s Love Hate.” “Yes, I’m a fan, and I wanted to see him perform, but I’d always wanted to make a movie about him since forever. And so the plan was to take that Hell’s Winter footage and go pitch the movie.”

Soon after that tour, LaBeouf’s acting career took off with films like [movie id="298777"]“Disturbia”[/movie] and [movie id="333489"]“Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.”[/movie] LaBeouf, however, never forgot about Cage. “[The movie] was put on pause because things got out of whack, crazy, but the friendship lasted,” he said of the film — which he could possibly star in and/or direct. “I knew he was putting [a new EP and album] out and how hard he worked on it. So it seemed like a cool way for me to be artistic in a realm that I’ve never really messed with.”

Still, LaBeouf is quick to point out that his long-term goals aren’t becoming the next Ron Howard or Clint Eastwood. “No, I have no ambition to be a director,” he explained. “I’m an actor, but I’m an artist. I like messing around, and I like working with artists who I respect.”

So without much expertise, LaBeouf leaned on a friend who just happens to be one of the all-time greats — Bay — who rose to prominence directing music videos such as Slaughter’s “Up All Night,” Meat Loaf’s “I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)” and [url id="http://www.mtv.com/videos/the-divinyls/134953/i-touch-myself.jhtml"]the Divinyls’ “I Touch Myself.”[/url]

“Mike just said, ‘Shoot for the edit, and get as many puzzle pieces as you possibly can,’ ” LaBeouf said of the director’s advice. “His whole thing is about a mass of shots. … Every guy does it differently, especially the guys that are closer to me. Steven [Spielberg] is the preparation king, and Mike is a shooter.”

Ultimately, LaBeouf said that his music/movie collaborations with Cage are all about two artists combining to tell one raw, fascinating tale. “I want them to know everything,” he said of Cage’s story, which includes drug use, physical abuse and a stint in a mental institution. “If you could just picture getting handed the sh–tiest cards, over and over again, and having to play with them. When I listen to Cage’s music [no matter how bad things are], it’s like my life is not that bad.”

For breaking news, celebrity columns, humor and more — updated around the clock — visit MTVMoviesBlog.com.