Shia LaBeouf is a Lawless unto himself

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SHIA LaBeouf is shifting. After carving out a career in the Transformers films, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull, the 26-year-old is enjoying a run of indie flicks.

The first is Lawless, a Prohibition-era drama which premiered at Cannes in May, where it was nominated for the prestigious Palme d’Or award.

LaBeouf, who has made jokes about the Transformers films being “rubbish” and will not be returning for the fourth instalment, was the first actor to join the cast of Lawless three years ago, after the Australian director John Hillcoat and screenwriter Nick Cave, better known for his musical projects with The Bad Seeds and Grinderman.

“I was the first person in,” he declares proudly. “That’s my squad - if I could work with them for the rest of my life, I would. I’d seen all of John’s work and I loved it, and I really wanted to work with him because I think he’s one of the very best.”

The deal was agreed over burgers. “He took me to Hamburger Hamlet and said let’s make Goodfellas in the woods. And I was like, ‘Word! Let’s do that’,” LaBeouf recalls.

Despite two years of setbacks and near-starts, the actor remained committed to the project, even when his star status rose with the Transformers series.

Actually, the timing ended up having advantages, he now thinks.

“Lawless is closer to my own sensibility but I’ve been working on things that you can’t say ‘no’ to, because they’re incredible opportunities, and help to make films like this possible,” LaBeouf explains.

“Had Transformers not been a success then I don’t think Lawless would have happened. So every step is linked and I don’t regret any of it.”

Lawless opens in cinemas next Friday