Have the Jews lost Shia LaBeouf? The Jewish movie star has announced that while on set for his latest film "Fury" he converted to Christianity, sparking speculation and counter-speculation as to how genuine his professed change of faith really is.
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LaBeouf, who plays a Christian character named Boyd 'Bible' Swan in the WWII film opposite Brad Pitt, told Interview magazine in distinctly "unchristian" language that he "found God doing 'Fury.' I became a Christian man, and not in a fucking bullshit way — in a very real way.”
“I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it," he said in the interview, published on Friday.
LaBeouf, born to a Jewish mother and a Christian father, has in the past professed substantial pride in being Jewish, going so far as saying that he feels "cocky" when he says he is Jewish, in his contribution to a book entitled "I am Jewish" in 2004, according to the International Business Times.
"Not bad cocky, but good cocky," LaBeouf qualified. "Because what I am really saying is that I am one of the few chosen ones out there."
His new proclamation of Christian faith was received with a grain of salt. LaBeouf is well known for his public antics, including showing up for the red carpet at the International Film Festival Berlinale with a paper bag over his head reading "I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE."
A month later, LaBeouf wore the bag again in a performance art installation titled #IAMSORRY, in which he sat in a chair, crying.
Regardless of these public stunts, of which there are several more, including some scuffles with law enforcement per Hollywood young star tradition, LaBeouf is also a devout method actor. In order to better empathize with his character on "Fury," for instance, LaBeouf decided to pull out his own tooth and spent weeks without showering, raising the concerns of Brad Pitt, his co-star, the Daily Mail reported.
The star's public behavior and work ethic have caused some to doubt his latest proclamation. Laura Turner, writing for RNS, quoted David Ayer, the director of "Fury," as saying that LaBeouf was "manipulating people. It's like performance art. It's very conscious on his part." According to Turner, after watching the film and re-reading the interview, it became clear to her that the actor was "laughing his way to the bank over the entire hubbub."
The Jewish Business News was equal measures doubtful and snide, ending its report, after listing the actor's shenanigans, with the statement: "If the multitude of Christian folks out there wants to embrace Shia LaBeouf as a Christian, I think we should let them."
The Christian Post, on the other hand, was more supportive in its report, quoting extensively from the interview (omitting the expletives) and saying working on "Fury" has made the actor "look inside and make an important decision – to give his life to Christ."
The Inquistr said that an expletive-ridden proclamation is "a little odd," but gave the actor the benefit of the doubt, saying "each individual is at their own place in their spiritual journey."