How could Shia LeBeouf not be on cloud nine today? On Friday, it’s officially announced that he’s been handpicked by Steven Spielberg to join the cast of the fourth Indiana Jones film (even if it was the worst-kept secret in Hollywood). On Saturday, he hosts Saturday Night Live, at the tender age of 20. And then, on Sunday, the world learns that his new film, Disturbia, has opened big at number one by earning approximately $23 million. Not a bad weekend for the Disney Channel star-turned-“it” kid. He’s always been a talented actor, and when I had the good fortune to meet him during SXSW 2007 (when we screened Disturbia), he was really cool and friendly.
But, as great as all this is for LeBeouf, it’s important not to forget that Disturbia is also a triumph for director D.J. Caruso. After getting the runaround on his first feature, the underexposed and underrated The Salton Sea, he labored in studio star-vehicle hell with back-to-back disappointments like Taking Lives (a.k.a. “that Angelina Jolie/Ethan Hawke movie”) and Two For The Money (a.k.a. “that Matthew McConaughey/Al Pacino movie”). By working with a young cast, and guided by none other than Spielberg himself, Caruso has finally achieved the critical and commercial success his talent deserved (check out some of his episodes for The Shield to see what I mean). Also in Austin for SXSW this year, Caruso was equally as warm and friendly. For more on Caruso and his experience in making Disturbia (including how he almost didn’t), check out Jennie Punter’s informative Globe & Mail interview with the director, conducted during SXSW 2007.
UPDATE: Just noticed this post by Anne Thompson, which also covers the crazy weekend for LeBeouf.