Spending Time with Shia

You know it's a rare thing, even in this industry, to meet someone at just the right time – in what seems like mere moments before they are about to become huge. Getting to spend some time with them while they are still "Hey you look familiar" as opposed to "Oh my god, you're him, aren't you?" Six years ago I met a young, beautiful girl on the set of a film who I just felt was going to be a star. I'd seen her in a few things, but she had yet to have a huge speaking role. You just got that feeling off of her. She had that intangible IT. Her name was Kate Bosworth.

Last month I spent an evening with a young man who gave off that same vibe. Odds are, the mere mention of the name Shia LaBeouf doesn't necessarily bring his face to mind. He's not that guy yet. He's the guy that you see and say, "Oh, I loved him in that golf movie" or, "Wasn't he Keanu Reeves' cab driver?" But what's odd about meeting him now is that he's mere months away from you knowing exactly who he is.

You see, with Disturbia coming out this week, he gets his first crack at being the heroic, and romantic, lead in a mature thriller. Then come July, you'll see him in one of this summer's biggest blockbusters, Transformers. If that weren't enough, his name has been bandied about over the last few weeks as Spielberg's pick to play the third generation Jones in the upcoming Indiana Jones 4. And while Shia might smile and say, "Rumors are just that, rumors," it doesn't stop everyone in the industry from talking about him – a buzz that will assure him a number of offers and roles until it comes to fruition one way or another.

The first thing that comes across as crystal clear is exactly which kind of young actor he is. There are, of course, the tabloid darlings – fodder for the Evil Beet – who are everything you think they are. They have assistants who wipe the condensation off of their soda cans, because heaven forbid their hand touches such a thing. And yes, these people really do exist. But Shia absolutely isn't one of those. He's the kind of guy that holds the door open for everyone on the way out, and even for the group of folks walking in. He's a nice guy, who hates the BS, but also isn't crass enough to try and be all 'punk rock' about the BS. Business is business and you just don't have to buy into it.

I wish I had a series of quotes to share, but it really wasn't that kind of night. It was a small group of people wandering from club to hotel to club again, sitting and chatting. Typical Friday night on the town. Shia was funny, relaxed and still reeling from the Austin premiere of the film. But his overall friendliness and candor left an overall impression that this was the kind of guy I wanted to have over to the house to pass the controller around for an evening of Halo 2. He's a dude, a real down to earth dude. And a hard guy, I imagine, to not like.

It's exactly the kind of attitude that's going to get him work from now until judgment day, as directors who work with him go back to him again and again. Right now it appears Spielberg is one of those directors. And it's hard to do better than that. Trust me. By year's end, you'll know the name.

C. Robert Cargill - - - Email Me
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Austin-based Cargill, who not only loves but owns The Cutting Edge, writes on movies and DVD two times a week.