In Charlie Countryman, Shia LaBeouf bares all as the title young man who travels to Eastern Europe and soon finds himself entangled in a love triangle with a Romanian woman, Gabi, (Evan Rachel Wood) and her mob boss husband (Mads Mikkelson). The film, which debuted at Sundance last year under the slightly more cumbersome title The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, takes viewers to the underbelly of Bucharest. LaBeouf had some challenging scenes in the film, including going full frontal and reportedly tripping on acid to get into character.
EW spoke with director Fredrik Bond about the exclusive scene below and his work with LaBeouf, Wood, and Harry Potter alum Rupert Grint. Charlie Countryman opens in theaters on Nov. 15.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKY: Tell me about the scene above, where Charlie first meets Gabi.
FREDRIK BOND: Charlie is taken a little aback that she has this incredible presence about her, because Charlie is somebody who hasn’t experienced love in a long long time. He has a very profound experience when he sees her for the first time holding the hat. For me, it’s almost a comedic moment for him because he doesn’t really know how to behave in a situation like this. Yes, it’s romantic but it’s almost like Charlie’s a bit overly romantic in this scene because he doesn’t know how to behave. I always get a little bit of chuckle with the tension that Shia managed to get in the scene with him and Evan.
She’s kind of a hardened character that’s hard to penetrate and Charlie has to do everything to get under her skin. He definitely plays a much softer, more vulnerable, really throws himself out there. And it’s almost like Evan plays a bit more of a male character in a classic love story. I love that reverse role that both of them play.
How did you work on getting Evan Rachel Wood’s Romanian accent just right?
She’s incredibly technical, she’s an observer. She had a dialect coach of course, but I could just see how she would be spending time with the crew members and personnel, makeup people, everybody she saw she tried to get a version [of the lines]. It was so fascinating to see how she absorbed information any time she could get it.
There’s a lot of buzz since the red band trailer was released around Shia showing a lot of skin in this movie.
Both internally and externally!
Was it difficult to get the right tone in the nude scene?
It was probably the one scene that we spoke the most about in our preparation. And I had the luxury of having almost six months talking about the character and the movie with Shia. I feel like we were extremely well prepared. Both him and I were terrified of creating a sort of fake trip scene. The fact that we had six months to do all our research and talk about it and spend a lot of time thinking ‘how the hell should we pull it off?’ and prepare him for it really helped. So on the day when we came there I felt like he was completely in sync. [laughs] Let’s put it that way!
Wood and others have compared Charlie Countryman to the Quentin Tarantino/Tony Scott drama True Romance.
I think this is its own thing, this isn’t a Tarantino movie – he makes his movies and I make my movies. But I think that in terms of the temperament and in terms of things — dramatic moments — being released by quite absurd comedic moments, maybe that’s what’s a little reminiscent. I’ve always loved movies that take me on a ride and surprise me. So maybe that’s where the comparison ends because I don’t think it’s too close to any Tarantino movie. But it definitely has a sort of speed and urgency about it in terms of Charlie’s experience and it has a very romantic undertone. Ultimately this is a love story.
Rupert Grint plays an aspiring porn star — it’s a little bit different than Ron Weasley. Why did you choose him for this role?
I wanted to find somebody who wasn’t expected to play that part. When we did a reading together we were playing around with how he should approach the character and I thought he was so sweet, this character who had an idea of becoming a porn star, but he didn’t play it as a macho guy. I love that mix, I love that juxtaposition.