Shia LaBeouf is washing away his sins in the biopic of real-life monk Padre Pio.
The eponymous film, directed by Abel Ferrara, will be distributed by Gravitas Ventures. “Padre Pio” stars LaBeouf as the Italian monk who rose to fame in Catholicism during the two world wars. Padre Pio, born Francesco Forgione, exhibited stigmata, or Christ-like crucifixion wounds. Padre Pio died in 1968 at the age of 81; he was later beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1999 and canonized in 2002.
The film is co-written by Ferrara and Maurizio Braucci. “He’s an iconic figure,” Ferrara told Variety of Padre Pio’s legacy. “He’s on the back of every truck. He’s the saint of every drug dealer in Naples. Pio is like the alternative Jesus, in a way.”
After connecting with LaBeouf about the role, Ferrara said the “Transformers” alum was “driving to a monastery in California” moments later to fully immerse himself in the experience. LaBeouf donned monk-like robes and slept in Padre Pio’s former bed at a southern Italian monastery during production. Ferrara noted the film is supported by the Padre Pio brotherhood, with LaBeouf acting opposite real monks.
“He’s bringing his own life to it,” Ferrara said of LaBeouf’s performance. “You are seeing a person going through a very similar experience. It’s not just about wearing robes and performing actions. He connected very deeply with Pio’s journey in the film. When the actor is living a parallel-type journey, that’s when you get such a powerful performance.”
The film debuted at the 2022 Venice Film Festival and marked LaBeouf’s return to the screen in two years. Gravitas Ventures senior director of theatrical distribution Cameron Moore called LaBeouf’s performance “show-stopping” in the career-changing “religious biopic.”
LaBeouf also stars in Francis Ford Coppola’s upcoming “Megalopolis.”
“Padre Pio” will be released June 2. Check out the trailer below.