LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After a string of big-budget Hollywood flicks like the "Transformers" and "Indiana Jones" franchise films, actor Shia LaBeouf is downsizing his career and taking on new, dramatic challenges in movies such as "Lawless."
The film, which opened Wednesday to mixed reviews, is based on author Matt Bondurant's "The Wettest County in the World," a fictional account of his family in Prohibition-era Virginia, and LaBeouf said the tale touched him due to his own upbringing.
"In terms of the character's emotions, the things he goes through, where he winds up, what he's dealing with, the family elements, the alpha male fight, it was all things that resonate with me heavily," LaBeouf told Reuters.
"Lawless" tells of the bootlegging Bondurant brothers, played in the film by Jason Clarke, Tom Hardy and LaBeouf. When Special Deputy Charlie Rakes (Guy Pearce) arrives from Chicago, he threatens the brothers' moonshine business.
Complicating matters are shifting family dynamics in which LaBeouf's character Jack, the youngest Bondurant, wants to prove to his older brothers he can run the business.
Against their wishes, Jack starts his own bootlegging operation, deals with a big city gangster (Gary Oldman) and flaunts his new, expensive suits and cars, hoping to impress a girl in town played by Mia Wasikowska.
For Jack, his older brothers are at times frustrating - one is an alcoholic suffering post traumatic stress following World War I and the other puts on an air of invincibility.
In real life, LaBeouf's own father is a Vietnam veteran who struggled with alcohol abuse, and the actor said the family dynamics in the film "touched on a lot of aspects of my life."
"Even as an only child, who grew up with a father who's very alpha male, who I was competitive with, who was a criminal... I looked at (the script) and thought, man, I could really bring these moments to light."