Holes Is Definitely Worth Checking Out, Says Shia LeBeouf
Full Name: Shia Shaide LaBeouf
Birthdate: June 11, 1986
Birthplace: Los Angeles, California
TV series: stars in Disney Channel's Even Stevens
Magazine: National Geographic
Book: Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
School subjects: drama and history
Musical artists: Fabulous, 50 Cent, Nas, and Jay-Z
Q: How did you get the role of Stanley Yelnats?
Shia: I read the script, liked it, and auditioned for it. Andy Davis [the director] saw something, and I got the role.
Q: Had he seen Even Stevens?
Shia: No, I was an unknown when I walked in that room. He didn't know who I was from a fly on the wall.
Q: Do you know how many actors were interested in the role of Shia?
Shia: I think every young actor in Los Angeles went up for that role. It was between Frankie Muniz and me, and he pulled out, so I got the role.
Q: What was the most fun thing that happened during the filming of the movie?
Shia: We did this two-week boot camp before we filmed the movie. I got to know everybody in the group and we became friends. We got really tight throughout those two weeks.
Q: What was the boot camp like?
Shia: It was tough because at that time, I was not an athletic person. I was getting fatter by the day. I had nothing to build up my stamina. If we hadn't done that two-week process of trainingclimbing ropes, digging holes, and push-ups, none of us would have survived the 150-degree weather that was outside at Ridgecrest waiting for us. That's no joke or exaggeration. You could put the thermometer in a hole, and it was 150 degrees. We had only 20-minute increments to shoot our scenes because it was so hot. People were getting dehydrated.
Q: How did you cool down?
Shia: They had air-conditioned trailers where everyone would go in to sit down. We were doing school at the same time we were working, so this was the only time in my life where I ran to school because I was getting air-conditioning, water, and treatment there. It was nice!
Q: What grade were you in at the time?
Shia: Tenth grade. I have since graduated.
Q: Did you pull any pranks on each other when you were on the set?
Shia: I'm sure we did, but none that I remember. It was a three-month process, so most of the pranks happened in the hotel rooms. We were staying in a hotel in "Podunk-ville," where there was nobody else staying around for miles. It was just the cast and crew. So, when we got done with work, the party came right to the hotel. A lot of fun went down at that hotel. I would call Khelo at like 7 a.m. and say that his call time was changed, even though we didn't have to wake up until 11 a.m. I'd wake him up just to mess with him. We'd do stuff like that all the time.
Q: Do you ever want to go back to the desert again?
Shia: Not if they paid me! Nothing could take me back to Ridgecrest.
Q: Had you read the book before you got the part?
Shia: I actually got the script first, and then after meeting the author, Louis Sachar, I read the book because I was intrigued by him as a person and as an author. I actually read Holes for school while I was working on it.
Q: What did you think of the book?
Shia: I loved it as a book. It's exactly what the script is [because] Louis Sachar wrote the script also. You're reading the same thing, except there's more dialogue in the script. The movie is so close to the book, which is one of the main reasons people love the movie. Louis Sachar was on set every day to tell us if something was right or wrong. He was such a good guy to us. He was a mentor. We were freestyle rapping and writing our raps down, and we weren't good with articulating that stuff, and this guy is an author who's won a Peabody Award. Not only was it amazing to have him there because he's a legendary writer, but because of the knowledge that man has. I'm positive that I'm going to read another one of his books.
Q: What was a book that intrigued you growing up?
Shia: Siddhartha. It made me think more than all the books I've read in my life. I read it, and sat back for like three days reflecting on what I had just read. I don't like books that give you all the facts and then you just react to that. I like books that make you think.
Q: Do you plan on going to college?
Shia: Of course! I just gotta find the time. Right now, it's crazy because I have to do all this publicity, but as soon as this stops, I'm going to go to college. I just worked with a producer who said he'd pay for my first year of college if the movie we madeThe Battle of Shaker Heightsdoes a certain amount of box office [gross]. If that happens, I'm probably going to go to Yale or Harvard—one of the big ones.
Q: What is the origin of your name, Stanley?
Shia: It's a Hebrew name, and it means Gift From God. At the same time, LaBeouf means The Beef, so my name means Thank God For Beef in total. It sounds good and all, but in full-length form, it's not that nice.
Q: Did you ever go to regular school?
Shia: I went to a Magnet school in downtown Los Angeles. There were 52 kids in my class. The atmosphere was terrible. I was a minority for sure in that school. I was the only white kid.
Q: What was the most difficult thing about going to school there?
Shia: Racism. That was tough for me because I was fighting every day in my school. I must have fought every day my first week of school and gotten suspended my entire second week, and that was all because of racism. There were even teachers who were racist toward me. It made me tougher and made me think more about school, rather than being social.
Q: Do you still see the other guys from Holes?
Shia: Oh yeah, as a matter of fact I'm getting ready to go meet them. We're going to do a commentary for the movie. I see them all the time. We're really good friends, all of us.
Q: Is it normal that everyone in a cast gets along so well?
Shia: No, it's not normal. Hollywood is such a fickle business. My friend, Jake Smith[Squid in ]just moved from New York to Los Angeles so he could come chill with us. This is a rarity that you find people who are this cool. I still talk to Jon Voight [Mr Sir]. Everyone who worked on this movie was very friendly. We had a really good time. I have made some friends for life for sure.
Q: Did Sigourney Weaver or Jon Voight give you any advice about acting?
Shia: Yeah, they gave me a lot of advice. Sigourney knows how to handle herself so well. She was in some of the hottest wardrobe in the film and she never once complained about it. That takes a lot for the leading actress to be so calm and down to earth. Jon Voight helped me on the set and now that I'm doing all the publicity for the movie, he always calls me and tells me how I'm supposed to act around cameras. He's one of my only mentors.
Q: What would you tell kids about why they should see this movie and read the book?
Shia: Why shouldn't they? There's so much going on in this book, it's so colorful, and the movie resembles that. You've got amazing actors doing amazing things in amazing situations. Why wouldn't you check that out?
Interview by Marie Morreale