Shia LaBeouf confirms John McEnroe casting at Cannes

Movie star is transforming into tennis ace.

Shia LaBeouf is set to play former tennis bad boy John McEnroe in a new movie.

The Transformers star confirmed the casting news while promoting his new film American Honey at the Cannes Film Festival on Sunday (15May16).

Borg/McEnroe will chronicle the longtime rivalry between McEnroe and Swedish tennis ace Bjorn Borg, and 29-year-old LaBeouf insisted he's the perfect choice to play the temper-tantrum throwing American.

"I understand these people," he said. "I empathise with them. You just turn things up and turn things down. It's me."

Asked about his court skills, Shia said his backhand was "getting there".

His latest film, in which he portrays the leader of a group of teenagers selling magazine subscriptions to people in Midwest America, is among the movies up for the coveted Palme d'Or at this year's (16) Cannes, and LaBeouf told reporters he researched his character by joining a group of kids trying to make a living in the Pacific Northwest - and quickly found a kinship with the youths.

"This is not new information to me," he explained. "I'm part of that underclass."

The actor was all about business at the film festival, looking dapper in a white tuxedo and with none of the antics that have landed LaBeouf a reputation as an oddball in recent years - he wore a paper bag on his head during a red carpet appearance at the Berlin Film Festival in 2014 and last year staged a 72-hour public marathon of all of his films at a Greenwich Village theatre in New York.

He also hosted a bizarre performance art installation in Los Angeles in February, 2014, when he sat silently before visiting fans with his paper bag declaring "I am not famous anymore" over his head.

The #IAmSorry show ran for five days.

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