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Cast And Characters
Shia LaBeouf plays Jerry Shaw, the less accomplished half of a set of identical twins. "When we first meet him, he's in the thick of what his life has become,” LaBeouf explains. "He's an underachiever in a family of seeming overachievers. His twin brother was this overachieving perfectionist, who had a real easy way with life and was extremely bright, efficient, and dependable and secure – everything Jerry is not.”

Jerry had, much to the chagrin of his demanding father, left Stanford to travel and is, at present, working at a low-end copy store. "He's the sort of guy who exercises his freedom and doesn't necessarily believe that you need to go to college and do what everyone in society says you need to do,” notes Caruso. "He's exploring himself right now and trying to learn what he wants to do with his life – he's the complete opposite of his twin brother.”

An average guy, Jerry is suddenly forced to develop a great deal of character – and fast. "He's forced to confront some things in his life over the course of the movie – which takes place over about a day and a half – that makes him grow from being a kid to being a man,” says Chiarelli.

The filmmakers certainly felt the character and their star shared such everyman qualities. "At the time D.J. first mentioned the project to me, we were in Germany doing promotions for ‘Disturbia,'” recalls LaBeouf, who was about to tackle two other Spielberg projects – "Transformers” and "Indiana Jones.” The role is LaBeouf's first truly adult portrayal. "It's been great to see his progression,” Caruso says. "He was 19 when we started ‘Disturbia,' and now he's 21. I look at that film, then I look at ‘Transformers,' and now ‘Eagle Eye,' and I realize they were all only a year or so apart in his life, but he looks five or six years older. I have him playing a 23-year-old and here he is, a mature young man who, at certain times in the movie has discussions with a young mother in her early 30s about what she should do and how important life is. I think that's amazing for someone like Shia, who a year ago was playing a teenager. He is definitely mature beyond his years.”

"I think this is a defining role for Shia,” adds producer Patrick Crowley. "It marks his emergence as a leading man.”

LaBeouf also won over his co-star. "I love Shia,” says Michelle Monaghan "He's just a dynamite actor and so passionate about his work; I respect him deeply and we had a lot of fun together.”

Of course, having an actor and director who had already worked together was an added benefit. "They have a shorthand,” says Chiarelli. "They're like an old married couple. They'll just look at each other, like, ‘I want a take that's more like. . . .,' and Shia would nod, like, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know.' Nobody else quite understood them in the same way.”

Adds LaBeouf, "We'd communicate with a finger point or a hand movement, and then we'd be back to the scene again.”

Jerry's counterpart, Rachel, is a single mom with an ex-husband who spends some time with his son, but has left all of the real responsibilities of parenting to Rachel. "She's just trying to get through her day-to-day life with her son while working hard,” Monaghan explains.

Rachel sends her eight-year-old son, Sam, off on a trip to Washington, and finally has a day off, which includes a night out with the girls at a bar. But the day off turns into the worst day off ever, notes Monaghan. "She steps out of the bar to take a phone call she thinks is from her son but the voice on the other end is a woman, who asks ‘What would you do to save your son's life?' I obviously have no idea what she's talking about, and am completely bewildered.”

Then she is instructed to look up at the TV monitors in a store across the street, and sees live surveillance footage of Sam on the train.<

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