The Fury actor, who shares the 5-month-old with wife Mia Goth, opened up about fatherhood on the Aug. 31 episode of Real Ones with Jon Bernthal podcast. Addressing how he had "f--ked up" and "hurt a lot of people" before the birth of his baby girl, Shia said becoming a dad was like hitting "some kind of weird reset button" in how he lives his life.
"She's testing me," he explained. "It's almost like having the ultimate parole officer. I need someone to keep me accountable."
Calling his child "so f--king joyful," Shia went on to say that Isabel has given him "a new purpose" and how he's now "learning to be a man of principles."
"There's a lot I need to work on," the 36-year-old said, acknowledging that Isabel will one day be able to read about his troubled past online. "Having a daughter and knowing that your daughter is one day gonna search your name in a search engine and see that you are a deplorable, disgusting piece of s--t, that s--t hits. I have now until she's literate to create a relationship with her where she knows me more than this idea of who I am in the public."
For Shia, that means making amends with what he described as a "long list of people" he's hurt in the past. "I was a pleasure-seeking, selfish, self-centered, dishonest, inconsiderate, fearful human being and I was operating on a survival instinct," he recalled. "All my loves and friendships were transactional."
And though he didn't specifically say who is included on that list, Shia did acknowledge that "for my wife, I'll be making amends for the rest of my life."
"That's going to be a lifelong journey," said Shia, who admittedly "cheated on every woman I'd ever been with."
He added, "I gotta find another way to be a service to the world."
Elsewhere in his conversation with host Jon Bernthal, the Transformers alum detailed how he reconciled with Mia, who he previously split from in 2018. "I don't know nothing like this relationship, I never have in my life," he said. "To re-enter and be a part of my life, she had to take a hit. What I know love to be is selfless, loving action—and I've never known anything as loving or selflessly active as what this woman did for me in my life."
"She saved my f--king life," Shia said as he broke down in tears. "She was present for me at a time when I didn't deserve to have nobody in my life, especially her."
He continued, "She gave me hope when I was really running on fumes."
Shia hopes to reciprocate the unconditional love Mia gave him during that time by stepping up and being a strong support system for their family. "It doesn't make me useful to my wife to shame spiral," he explained. "It makes me useful to show up for my wife and be stable for my wife."
One recent example, the Honey Boy star recalled, was when their daughter was diagnosed with hemangioma—a benign vascular tumor—on her head. He said of his journey, "Had this not happened, I wouldn't have been able to show up from my wife and be stable in that environment."
Shia added, "People may not forgive me, but I know that I have been forgiven and I know that I am loved."