Shia Labeouf, actor

ShoWest 2007 male star of tomorrow

Few actors make that difficult leap from child star to serious adult actor. But if anyone has the talent, determination and smarts to do it, it's Shia LaBeouf. At 14, LaBeouf became a tween favorite as the star of Disney Channel's "Even Stevens," which earned him a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003. Later that year, he made the leap to the big screen in the adventure film "Holes" and followed that up with "The Battle of Shaker Heights" and a starring role in 2005's "The Greatest Game Ever Played." Last year, he took dramatic turns in the Sundance favorite "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" and the critically acclaimed "Bobby." With three more movies currently slated for release in 2007 -- including Paramount's hotly anticipated "Transformers" -- ShoWest's Male Star of Tomorrow somehow found the time to chat with Jacqueline Marmo for The Hollywood Reporter about his burgeoning career.

The Hollywood Reporter: How does it feel to be named ShoWest's Male Star of Tomorrow?
Shia LaBeouf: It's exhilarating and scary. The reason it's scary is because it's a preliminary award. They're honoring me for things I haven't done yet, so it's kind of strange. But I'm honored nonetheless.

THR: You've got three movies coming out this year. Do you ever find time for yourself?
LaBeouf: Doing movies is for myself. I don't make movies for anyone else. It's not just a job, it's a hobby. I'm in love with what I do -- so that's me doing things for myself.

THR: You're next starring in Michael Bay's summer blockbuster "Transformers." Were you a fan of the TV series, comic book or action figures?
LaBeouf: For me, my childhood was "Transformers" and "Yogi Bear." I just used to watch those over and over and over again.

THR: How did you prepare for your role in "Transformers"?
LaBeouf: I worked out a lot. Not weights, but calisthenics and running for a good three months, just because Michael Bay said, "This is nonstop; it's like running a marathon." But it wasn't like I had to go into some emotional exercise -- I'm not playing the Elephant Man in the movie, you know? And the character's not completely removed from myself, so I wasn't having to go navigate somebody else's emotions. It's very reactionary: How would you unload if there was a 40-foot robot shooting torpedoes at your car?

THR: What was the most difficult part of that role for you?
LaBeouf: Just the physical (part). In a Michael Bay movie, you're blowing up a building, dropping a helicopter, lighting five guys on fire -- all before lunch.

THR: You're also appearing in Paramount's upcoming thriller "Disturbia." What attracted you to that project?
LaBeouf: I'm a huge (Alfred) Hitchcock fan. Not that this is a remake of (1954's) "Rear Window" -- saying that this is a remake of "Rear Window" is like calling (1965's) "The Cincinnati Kid" a remake of (1961's) "The Hustler." They're similar story lines, but it's not a re-creation. I like the fact that the star of the movie is not a robot; it's emotion. And D.J. Caruso is an amazing director -- (2002's) "The Salton Sea" is in my top 10. And there was the David Morse aspect. (David is) one of the greatest actors on the planet. (And) Carrie-Anne Moss -- it's just fun to be with these types of people in a film and to be the star of it. I'm honored that they even let me do it. I have to start doing things like that to further my career instead of being the second banana. Being allowed to be the main banana in a movie like this is a real honor, and you jump at the opportunities when you have them.

THR: You choose very diverse roles in different genres. How do you pick your roles?
LaBeouf: Things that interest me. I'll choose "Bobby" because Anthony Hopkins is in it. It's not like I sat around trying to figure out if I wanted to work with Anthony Hopkins. Any actor wants to work with that man. "Guide" was a movie I wanted to make because I didn't want to be typecast as a soft kid; I've done a lot of soft movies. I was in Disney for a long time, and a lot of that was really soft. And life isn't really that soft. But, at the same time, there's a whole other audience that doesn't want to watch "Guide" -- that wants to watch the soft. So, it's a balancing act. You want to be as diverse as possible without reaching so far that you look like an idiot. I want to do drama and comedy. I want to do all of it because that's human. People are funny, and they're not funny, and they're dramatic and confused. If I was just to play one emotion my whole career, I wouldn't have a very long career. My whole goal is longevity -- not necessarily fame and stardom. I want to be working until I'm 70. I want to be Michael Caine. And the only way I can be Michael Caine is to do everything and not do the same thing back-to-back.

THR: What big summer movie are you looking forward to the most?
LaBeouf: "Transformers." I just haven't seen it yet, and it seems like the only original franchise that's out this summer. I'm biased, so my opinion means nothing. But the movie I'm most excited to see, period, this year, end of story, is (Warner Bros. Pictures') "300." It's just the coolest trailer I've ever seen.