Thesp's return puts long-gestating project into pre-production

Shia LaBeouf is breathing life back into “The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman,” the actor’s long-gestating passion project that briefly had Zac Efron attached to star back when the film was set up at Mandate Pictures.

Voltage Prods. and Bona Fide Prods. are now starting pre-production on the film, which acclaimed commercials helmer Fredrik Bond is attached to direct from a Black List script by Matt Drake (“Project X”).

The gritty pulp romance will find LaBeouf playing the title character, a normal guy who falls for a woman who has been claimed by a violent crime boss.

Scheduling issues have kept LaBeouf from the project, which the “Transformers” star initially joined back in April 2010. With LaBeouf’s calendar clearing, the actor decided to follow through with his original plan to star.

The “Little Miss Sunshine” duo of Albert Berger and Ron Yerxa will produce through their Bona Fide banner along with Bill Horberg (“The Kite Runner”), while Craig J. Flores (“300″) will produce for Voltage, whose Nicolas Chartier (“The Hurt Locker”) will exec produce. Bona Fide developed the script with Drake and attached Bond, while Voltage Pictures will handle foreign sales for the film, which is skedded to start production in early May in Eastern Europe.

“After our fantastic experience collaborating with Shia on ‘The Company You Keep,’ I jumped at the idea of working with him again on ‘Charlie Countryman,'” said Flores. “The spark in this amazing script, mixed with Shia’s pure talent and Fredrik’s masterful ability to create an elevated love story we just can’t get enough of — will redefine pulp romance.”

LaBeouf next stars in John Hillcoat’s bootlegging drama “The Wettest County” and Robert Redford’s political thriller “The Company You Keep,” which was also produced by Voltage.

CAA reps LaBeouf, Berger, Yerxa and Bond, who’s also repped by Management 360 and attorney Warren Dern. LaBeouf is also repped by John Crosby Management and attorney Matt Saver, while attorney Linda Lichter reps Berger and Yerxa. Drake is repped by Original Artists and 3 Arts Entertainment.

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