Shia LaBeouf has paid tribute to co-star Zack Gottsagen, calling the acting newcomer “the conductor” of their heartwarming new movie The Peanut Butter Falcon, in cinemas today.
The Transformers star says although their new indie film had a script which acted as a template for the story, most scenes were largely improvised with Gottsagen leading the way.
“We had a dancefloor. So they’d say, ‘Stay within the confines of this or that,’ and then we sort of would go off and play jazz. A lot of it’s ad-ibbed,” LaBeouf explained.
“I’d say most every scene in the movie was… there was a script, there was a spine, but we’d have our own little spin on it, but we’d get there and Zack would go left, and the whole movie would go left with him. If Zack made a right, then the whole movie would react to that. We’d sort of be following Zack’s lead: He was the conductor.”
The film stars Zack Gottsagen as a 22-year-old with Down syndrome who dreams of becoming a pro wrestler. He escapes from care and teams up with LaBeouf’s character: a fisherman and small-time thief on the run.
The duo embark on a quest across the US to find a fabled wrestling school, in an indie adventure that is arguably the feel-good film of the year.
“It was a different way of working,” said LaBeouf, who rose to fame in Disney’s Even Stevens before breaking into films in the Michael Bay Transformers franchise.
“You don’t get this much space usually. Usually, it’s much more manufactured. Less authentic, and real and nuanced. We had a whole lot of room.”
LaBeouf said he bonded with his co-star on set by “hanging out, watching wrestling, eating food together,” while Gottsagen revealed that they enjoyed rapping on set together, as well as “partying, and drinking some whiskey… on the set! We have a good time!”
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Their on-screen friendship and chemistry between the two stars, who are joined in the movie by Dakota Johnson and Bruce Dern, with cameos from classic wrestlers Mick Foley and Jake “The Snake” Roberts, holds the film’s entire adventure together.
The Peanut Butter Falcon is in cinemas from 18 October 2019. Watch a trailer below.