Abel Ferrara told Variety that he has cast Shia LaBeouf in his next directorial feature, in which the controversial actor will star as Italian Saint Padre Pio. Willem Dafoe, who recently collaborated with Ferrara on “Siberia” and “Sportin’ Life,” is also circling a role in the movie. Should the project move forward, it would mark an attempted industry comeback for LaBeouf following accusations of sexual battery and abuse made against him last year.
“We’re doing a film about Padre Pio, he’s a monk from Puglia. It’s set in Italy right after World War I,” Ferrara said. “He’s now a saint, he had stigmata. He was also in the middle of a very heavy political period in world history. He was very young before he became a saint, so Shia LaBeouf is going to play the monk.”
Variety’s report adds: “Ferrara plans to shoot the film on location in Puglia, located in Italy’s famous heel, in October of this year. He described the film as being ‘bigger’ than many of his recent works, revealing that he has been working on it for quite some time, and that the addition of LaBeouf in the lead role meant the project is ‘all set’ to shoot in the very near future.”
LaBeouf was sued in December 2020 by ex-girlfriend and pop star FKA Twigs, who cited sexual battery, assault, and the infliction of emotional distress. A report on the lawsuit from The New York Times revealed that LaBeouf allegedly “abused FKA twigs physically, emotionally, and mentally many times in a relationship that lasted just short of a year.”
Twigs’ allegations included one incident that took place just after Valentine’s Day 2019 when LaBeouf “was driving recklessly… removing his seatbelt and threatening to crash unless she professed her love for him.” On a drive back from the desert, LaBeouf allegedly “raged at her throughout the trip…once waking her up in the middle of the night, choking her. After she begged to be let out of the car, she said he pulled over at a gas station and she took her bags from the trunk. But LaBeouf followed, and assaulted her, throwing her against the car while screaming in her face, according to the suit. He then forced her back in the car.”
The abuse allegations resulted in CAA dropping LaBeouf as a client. IndieWire has reached out to Ferrara for further comment on LaBeouf’s casting.