"He's a killer, but he's also a man of faith," says Shia LaBeouf of his character in the film "Fury."
In the film which hits theaters this Friday, actor Shia LaBeouf who is best known for the "Transformers" film franchise plays a soldier with a penchant for preaching.
"He's a Christian man, a righteous man, who will tell you the difference between killing and murder - and there is a big difference," says the actor. "He lives his life by the book, but still will kill you if you are on the other side - and he'll have no problems sleeping at night. I guess God put certain people here to collect souls - the Grim Reaper for God."
A violent and vivid drama which highlights the misery of combat, "Fury" takes place in late-war Germany in 1945 and follows an embittered tank commander named Don "Wardaddy" Collier (Brad Pitt) whose responsibility is keeping his troops alive. Pitt also serves as executive producer.
Directed by David Ayer who wrote "Training Day," the troops consist of a motley crew of men that include Logan Lerman, Michael Peña, Jon Bernthal, Pitt and LaBeouf's character Boyd "Bible" Swan who plays the spiritual and ethical center of the group.
"He's the gunner and basically the second-in-command of a tanker called Fury," says LaBeouf. "It was interesting for me to explore how a man who reads scripture and has faith - a Christian - reconciles that with being in combat."
To explore that dichotomy of playing a man who believes in God, but loves killing, director Ayer says he had the actor spend time with Don Evans, a veteran of the 2nd Armored Division during World War II.
"Shia was willing to commit and transform and really submerge himself in the role. He did a vast amount of prep work and shadowed a military Chaplin to better understand how to minister the troops and how scripture related to the soldier's life."
At the start of the film, the crew has lost one of their five members, and a new kid called Norman (Lerman) is sent to join the crew. A trained typist thrust into war due to a shortage of soldiers, Norman, who has no tank experience has been sent to the front lines in the 2nd Armored Division, to serve as an assistant driver. Soon he is learning about life on the frontlines and over the course of 24 fateful hours, his training is tested as the men of the M4 Sherman tank are forced to take on 300 enemy German troops in a desperate battle for survival.
Rated R for several violent scenes, "Fury" is an intense well-made World War II film that narrows its attention to the men in a specific operation.