nearly took his own life while preparing to portray Italian priest Francesco Forgione — also known as Padre Pio — for the upcoming biopic Padre Pio. “I had a gun on the table. I was outta here,” the 36-year-old actor revealed to Bishop Robert Barron during a nearly 90-minute video shared on on Aug. 25. “I didn’t want to be alive anymore when all this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe. You don’t know where to go. You can’t go outside and get like, a taco.” He added that his guilt stemmed from hurting “a lot of people,” although he did not elaborate on how he did so.
Theactor has endured quite a few ups and downs in his life over the last few years including such as charges for misdemeanor battery and petty theft and has been arrested for , per . Plus, in 2020, his ex-girlfriend for physical, emotional, and mental assault throughout their year-long relationship. At first, Shia appeared to apologize for his behavior. “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years,” he told The New York Times shortly after FKA’s filing. “I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.” However, the following year, he filed court papers in which he “each and every allegation” by the actress.
In order to prepare for Abel Ferrara‘s film, Shia decided to stay at a seminary of Franciscan Capuchin friars in San Lorenzo, Calif., where he lived out of his car. His studies there inspired him to embrace Catholicism, especially after learning about forgiveness and feeling like he, too, deserved another chance. “It was seeing other people who have sinned beyond anything I could ever conceptualize also being found in Christ that made me feel like, ‘Oh, that gives me hope,’” he recalled. “I started hearing experiences of other depraved people who had found their way in this, and it made me feel like I had permission.”
He also confirmed that while he originally arrived at the monastery only to help with his role, he feels his conversion to Catholicism was meant to be. “I know now God was using my ego to draw me to Him, was drawing me away from worldly desires,” the former child star noted. “It was all happening simultaneously. But there would have been no impetus for me to get in the car and drive up if I didn’t think, ‘Oh, I’m gonna save my career.’”
He added, “And when I got here, a switch happened. It was like Three-Card Monte. It was like someone tricked me into it, it felt like. Not in a bad way. In a way that I couldn’t see it. I was so close to it that I couldn’t see it. I see it differently now that time has passed.”