Shia LaBeouf Talks About "The Greatest Game Ever Played"

Based on the True Story of Golfer Francis Ouimet

Shia LaBeouf stars in The Greatest Game Ever Played
Shia LaBeouf in "The Greatest Game Ever Played". © Walt Disney Pictures
Shia LaBeouf on Golf:
The Greatest Game Ever Played.

LaBeouf says, I wasnt even a fan of golf, to tell you the truth. The only reason I was into it slightly is because Im an actor and a pretty heady guy. Out of any sports, its the most intriguing for an actor. You watch golf and these guys miss these six-inch putts, and their whole life depends on these putts. Theyll miss it. Unlike football and basketball, they dont scream [expletives]. They look at the audience, take their hat off, wave and smile. Where in reality, inside theyre crying and screaming. Thats a man.

Shia LeBeouf on Training for The Greatest Game Ever Played: When I first showed up, Bill Paxton said, Go watch The Legend of Bagger Vance because thats exactly what were not going to make. Thats slow and drawn out. Thats somebody filming golf. Its not somebody in the mind of a golfer filming that.

Paxton said to watch Matt Damon and ask a golfer if they liked Bagger Vance. And no golfers Ive asked have liked Bagger Vance, especially when I went training. No golfers like Bagger Vance because Matt Damon trained two weeks to get his swing correct. Hes playing the best golfer in the world. You watch Bobby Jones and [Jim Caviezel] trained for three weeks to get his swing. [They were portraying] the best golfers in the world at the time.

Bill said, Were not doing [our movie] that way. Were not shooting this as a golf movie. Its going to be a cowboy [movie], a shootout. Its not a ball; its your life. Thats not a club; its your weapon.

The situation became if were going to shoot this, were going to make it a real film, put money behind this. And were going to really golf. So I trained for six months. I started off with the UCLA golf team. Golf is such a slow sport, its such a boring sport, being with the UCLA college guys, being with guys my age, guys with golf groupies, guys who go out and party, it made it more real to me. It made it along the lines of somebody I could acquaint myself with, rather than talking with a 50-year-old man about why he loves golf. I was talking to 19-year-old kids about why they love golf. It was a level playing field for me to start off.

I asked them what their favorite films were: Happy Gilmore, Caddyshack. The quintessential golf film hadnt been made. Its all satire of golf. I started with the UCLA golf team training-wise, then I went to the U.S. Open Shinnecock and was on the course with Adam Scott, shadowed him throughout the entire competition. I saw the immensity of it. How big the sport was, how big the competition was. Then I did seven hours a day, seven days a week golf training with three different golf pros in two states. I did virtual reality training, calisthenics, yoga. Six months to get the swing.

Its not baseball; its not Bernie Mac in his movie. Its not just swinging a baseball bat. Golfers watch a golf film and the facade is dropped, the curtain is drawn, once they see a swing that looks fake.

LaBeoufs Opinion of Golfs Changed Since Filming the Movie: Absolutely. Its an intense sport. Its the only sport in the world where you not only hire a trainer, you hire a therapist to tour with the team. Its insane. Think about it. Thats crazy.

On Researching the Real Francis Ouimet: I read every piece of literature that Francis ever read. I read book he wrote. I read everything Harry Vardon ever wrote. I watched every piece of footage on Vardon, and Ted Ray and Francis. I met with Francis family. I did as much [research] as Mark did so he could write the book, so I could develop my own opinions.

Shia LaBeouf on His Career: I have enough money to eat. I dont need $4 million for a movie. Im not into that Hilary Duff/Lindsay Lohan let-me-go-get-paid-right now [thing]. Thats not my life. This is not a career thats going to end in three years. Some people juice their orange until theres nothing left. I understand that. Thats the route to go. If I was Hilary Duff, Id do the same thing. There are other times when you feel you can make a change in the business, or add what you have to the business. That, you protect, you dont give it away.

You have to make certain sacrifices to get to certain places. I, Robot wasnt made because I loved I, Robot. I, Robot was made so that I could make Constantine. Constantine was made so that I could make this. Thats the way the business works. Its a puzzle piece and you fit it all in so you can get to the destination. And Ive gotten there now. From this point forward, there will be no more puzzle piecing. Itll be things that I love. Ive gotten lucky, to be 19 and be able to pick and choose what I want to do, based on creative or artistic decisions rather than a financial decision.