Shia LeBeouf to play St. Padre Pio in upcoming film

Controversial actor Shia LeBeouf is set to play the 20th century Catholic monk and Saint Padre Pio in an upcoming film.

Speaking about the role in a recent interview posted by Irish news site Catholic Arena, LeBeouf, who is famous for his roles in franchises such as Transformers and Indiana Jones, described the origins of the film.

“Me, Abel Ferrara and Willem Dafoe are making a movie called Padre Pio, about the great Padre Pio,” he said.

“We’re trying to get as close to an accurate depiction of what it’s like to be a friar as possible – to get as close to the human, tangible, tactile relationship that this man had with Christ in bringing the Good News to the world.”

The remarks were made while LeBeouf was staying with a group of Catholic monks in research for the role – an experience which he described as “heartwarming.”

“I’m completely immersed in something way bigger than myself,” he said.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever met a group of men as immersed in anything in my life. It’s super attractive to see people give themselves to something so divine, and it’s heartwarming to know that there’s a brotherhood like this that exists. I’ve been met with nothing but grace, and I’m so honoured to meet [these] guys.”

Padre Pio is one of the most revered modern saints in the Catholic world, and was born Francesco Forgione in southern Italy in the late 1800s before joining the Order of Capuchin Friars, a Catholic religious order.

Numerous miracles are associated with him by Catholics, including his reported bearing of the stigmata – the wounds associated with Christ’s crucifixion, holes in his hands and feet.

After becoming a much beloved figure in his native Italy and across the Catholic world, Padre Pio died in 1968 at the age of 81, before being canonized a saint by Pope John Paul II in 2002.

According to Director Abel Ferrara in an interview with Variety, the film will focus on the younger years of the Italian saint’s life.

“We’re doing a film about Padre Pio,” said Ferrara.

“He’s a monk from Puglia. It’s set in Italy right after World War I. 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.”

The film will reportedly be shot on-location in Puglia, Italy, later this year.

Ferrara said this movie would be “bigger” than many of his other works, and that he had been planning it for some time.

It has been described by some as a “comeback” role for LeBeouf, who has been embroiled in some significant scandals in recent years, including alcohol problems, theft, as well as abuse allegations towards his former girlfriend, which he denies.

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