PARK CITY, Utah — If there are any misconceptions about Shia LaBeouf’s approach to acting, let’s clear them up right now, OK?
He didn’t swill moonshine for “Lawless” or drop acid for his new Sundance flick, “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman,” for any other reason than the actor is simply terrified.
As LaBeouf told MTV News hours before the film’s premiere at the Eccles Theatre, he doesn’t trust himself to approach scenes that call for various states of inebriation without the aid of a little pick-me-up. Sitting beside him during the interview, costar Evan Rachel Wood declared that LaBeouf is an incredible actor with or without chemical assistance.
LaBeouf, though, didn’t agree, merely pointing out his envy of her talents and her resume. So let’s clear up something else while we’re at it: the two actors might employ different methods, but for “Charlie Countryman” — which was reportedly attracting strong buzz from buyers ahead of its Eccles premiere — it appears to have been the perfect match.
MTV News: Your director, Fredrik Bond, has said you guys have much different kinds of techniques when it comes to acting. Would you say that’s true?
Shia LaBeouf: I think Evan’s just a better actress. Straight up.
Evan Rachel Wood: Nooooo. Shia’s unbelievable.
LaBeouf: I’m not saying this to fish either! What I’m saying is there’s a technique that Evan has that I don’t quite know yet…. When I was 13, she was in “13.” I’ve always been looking up to Evan.
MTV: As we all know, there are different ways to skin a cat, and you go at it maybe, it’s fair to say, at an instinctual level, a gut level?
LaBeouf: Just fearful. I’m just scared.
Wood: You don’t seem it at all.
LaBeouf: Well, thank you. That’s what propels things like that — being nervous that you’re not going to get it right or it’s not going to be honest. You subject yourself to things and you can’t choose your thoughts. You can’t choose your feelings. But you can really influence them, and I just try to influence myself as much as possible.
MTV: The character drops acid and you did that for the role. You did it because you wanted to be in that headspace, apparently.
LaBeouf: Also, just ’cause I’m scared. I’ve never done acid before. I remember sending Evan tapes.
LaBeouf: I remember trying to conjure this and sending tapes and Evan being like, ’Yeah, that’s good, but that’s not, but this is, but that ain’t.
Wood: Not like I would know about these drugs!
LaBeouf: Not like she’s the expert on set. I’m just saying you reach out to friends and you sort of gauge where you’re at. So I was sending tapes around. I’d get fifty percents from people, and that starts creeping me out, and I got really nervous. Towards the end, I was like…
Wood: It was spot on.
LaBeouf: Well, yeah. But not because I’m wanting to be on drugs. I’m not trying to mess with the set or anything like that. It’s really just fear that propels people.
MTV: I’ve talked to actors a lot over the years, and questions come up with alcohol too. Do you arrive on set drunk or a little tipsy if you’re playing a scene…’
LaBeouf: Well, you root for it. You don’t show up wasted. You don’t show up completely tripping on acid. But you’re rooting for something and you’re pushing yourself toward it. Everyone’s got their own way.
The 2013 Sundance Film Festival is officially under way, and the MTV Movies team is on the ground reporting on the hottest stars and the movies everyone will be talking about in the year to come. Keep it locked with MTV Movies for everything there is to know about Sundance.