ShoWest Male Star of Tomorrow: Shia LaBeouf

For LaBeouf, the Showest Star of Tomorrow, today is skedded to arrive July 4. That’s when Michael Bay’s “Transformers” goes into release, and for the 20-year-old actor, this sci-fi actioner could transform his career after supporting roles in such well-regarded, modestly budgeted projects as “Bobby,” “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” and “The Greatest Game Ever Played.”

On July 4, the comic kid on Disney Channel’s “Even Stevens” morphs into a 21st-century leading man, whose 2007 release slate also includes the animated mockumentary “Surf’s Up” and the psychological thriller “Disturbia,” about a serial killer who may or may not live next door to LaBeouf’s character. The actor hasn’t quite come down from filming that one.

“I still have extreme anxiety attacks, and I can’t get my head out of there,” he says of the D.J. Caruso-helmed pic. “Now I feel like there’s a murderer up the street.”

Regarding “Transformers,” LaBeouf takes a quick potshot at one big myth surrounding his director: “I find it funny that people say Michael Bay is not an actor’s director. That’s not true at all. He gives the actors freedom, and if you can strap your shoes on tight, it’s perfect — like a marriage.”

Although he’s wearing the “tomorrow” moniker at ShoWest, LaBeouf has been acting for half his life, and so his heroes are consummates pros like Gary Oldman and Dustin Hoffman. So far, he really, really likes the work: “Reality sucks sometimes, and acting is like you’re living through a dream. Like floating on clouds. I don’t know if I’ll ever come down from it.”

The ShoWest honor, which LaBeouf calls a “preliminary award,” is proving a little more stressful.

“I’m extremely nervous about it,” he says. “The title itself is honoring something that hasn’t happened yet. So it’s pressure times 10.”

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