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Tom Hardy Understands Shia LaBeouf’s Extreme Method Acting: ‘Drama Is Not Known to Attract Stable Types’

LaBeouf and Hardy starred together in "Lawless," and LaBeouf even punched Hardy and knocked him out during filming.


Tom Hardy and Shia LaBeouf co-starred together in John Hillcoat’s 2012 crime drama “Lawless,” and the films rocky production left Hardy with a respect and appreciation for his co-star, whose life and career has been more tumultuous in recent years. On the set of “Lawless,” where the actors were playing bootleggers during the Prohibition era, LaBeouf drank moonshine by the gallon to get into character.

The actor confirmed in a revealing Esquire profile that an on-set altercation between himself and Hardy one day led to a drunken LaBeouf punching Hardy and knocking him out. The story has long been a rumor about the “Lawless” production. Hellcoat confirmed in a 2016 Reddit AMA that there was in fact a fight between the two actors that resulted in both men having to be restrained.

Fortunately, Hardy holds no hard feelings towards LaBeouf. In fact, Hardy understands the tormenting acting process more than most and respects the kind of trouble and pain LaBeouf endures in order to perfect the art of playing his characters. Other famous LaBeouf stories include dropping acid on the set of “Charlie Countryman,” which resulted in the actor punching director Fredrik Bond, and shaving down his tooth for David Ayer’s “Fury” so that he could know what it feels like to be smacked in the face from a the recoil of a gun.

Speaking to Esquire, Hardy pointed out the demanding paradox central to LaBeouf’s process: “A performer is asked to do two things: To be disciplined and accountable, communicative and a pleasure to work with. And then, within a split second, they’re asked to be a psychopath. Authentically. It takes a very strong human being to sustain a genuine sense of well-being through that baptism of fire. Drama is not known to attract stable types.”

LaBeouf spoke to Esquire about how his role in Michael Bay’s “Transformers” franchise set him up for a career that directly went against his artistic ambitions, but Hardy enjoys the robot-driven blockbusters and even thinks they show off one of LaBeouf’s greatest assets as a performer.

“Shia has the ability to land scene after scene that builds a reality from utter fantasy,” Hardy said. “We know the robots aren’t really there. They just aren’t. When I watch Shia, they are.”

Hardy and LaBeouf currently don’t have plans to reunite on the big screen. LaBeouf stars as tennis player John McEnroe in the Neon-backed “Born vs. McEnroe,” in theaters April 13. Hardy, meanwhile, returns to the big screen this fall with tentpole “Venom.” The comic book film opens nationwide October 5.

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