Hollywood Flashback: Shia LaBeouf Starred in Bill Paxton's Golf Flick in 2005
Set in the early 20th century and based on the life of unlikely U.S. Open golf champion Francis Ouimet, 'The Greatest Game Ever Played' also marked Paxton's final directorial project before his death in February 2017.
There was no shortage of films with "game" in the title playing at the 2005 Toronto International Film Festival: The Heart of the Game was a documentary about a girls high school basketball team; The Ernie Game was a 1967 Canadian doc about a young man coping after being released from an insane asylum. Not in the lineup, however, was The Greatest Game Ever Played.
Set in the early 20th century and based on the life of unlikely U.S. Open golf champion Francis Ouimet, the Walt Disney Pictures biopic was notable for two things: It would mark the final directorial effort for Bill Paxton, then 50 (he died in February 2017 at age 61 from heart surgery complications) and featured a mostly unknown 18-year-old actor in the lead named Shia LaBeouf. The film was not in competition, but Paxton and LaBeouf made their way to TIFF that year to promote it, embracing for cameras in striped leisurewear at the Entertainment Weekly/Endeavor party on Sept. 11, 2005.
In its review, The Hollywood Reporter praised The Greatest Game Ever Played, saying Paxton had "fashioned solid family entertainment in this well-cast feature" and LaBeouf had created a character "full of quiet determination." LaBeouf wrote and stars in his next film, the autobiographical Honey Boy, which screens at 9:30 p.m. on Sept. 8 at Roy Thomson Hall.
This story first appeared in The Hollywood Reporter's Sept. 7 daily issue at the Toronto Film Festival.