It’s easy to get caught up in the chaos that is Shia LaBeouf. His fame has increased over the years, but little of it is due to his acting career. Every now and again he’ll burst back on the scene with another “performance art piece” or by generally having no filter when speaking to the press. Recently he has emerged again and as always, he is stirring the proverbial pot.
During an interview with Variety, LaBeouf stated that David Ayer wanted him for a role in Suicide Squad but Warner Brothers passed on him.
“I don’t think Warner Bros. wanted me. I went in to meet, and they were like, ‘Nah, you’re crazy. You’re a good actor, but not this one.’ It was a big investment for them” — Shia LaBeouf, Variety
The idea that Warner Bros. passed on LaBeouf because he is “crazy” is an intriguing one. Has this happened before to him? Is this how production companies perceive him? If it is true, this could be an issue for him in the future, if it hasn't been already.
One thing that is for certain: Shia LaBeouf is a tremendous actor. He rose to recognition in the early 2000’s starring as Louis Stevens on the Disney Channel show Even Stevens. Eventually making his big screen debut in the Disney movie, Holes. He followed with the film Disturbia, which took inspiration from Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window
In 2007 he played the lead character in the blockbuster film, Transformers. This rocketed him into the public spotlight. He would go on to reprise the role in the two sequels that were to follow. He continued down his path as an action star with roles in Eagle Eye and Indiana Jones and The Kingdom Crystal Skull. It was rumored that LaBeouf would take on the mantle of Indiana Jones after this film. However, poor critical reception of the film quickly crushed any hope of that.
His real talent would not be recognized until later. The celebrity status he acquired doing bigger budget films helped bring awareness to a small film he did in 2006, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. In this film It’s obvious that LaBeouf has some serious acting chops. Following his action-hero roles, he began to move in the direction of more character-driven stories. Films such as Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps and Lawless proved that he had a unique and powerful on-screen presence.
In 2012 he really began to shine. Starring opposite Robert Redford in The Company You Keep, it was obvious that his acting ability was on par with anyone he worked with. A year later he starred in the film Charlie Countryman. Although it was critically panned, there was no doubt that LaBeouf was a stand out.
“LaBeouf, who throws himself wholeheartedly into every role regardless of its worth, is a fearless and fascinating actor, and his sincerity holds the entire sleazy mess together." — Bruce Diones, The New Yorker
It was his portrayal of Boyd “Bible” Swan in David Ayer’s film Fury that set him apart as a truly great actor. His co-star Brad Pitt had nothing but glowing praise for LaBeouf during interviews prior to the release of the film.
His body of work speaks for itself. He is a multi-faceted actor who elevates every film he takes part in without a doubt. Time after time he receives praise from his fellow actors and directors alike. Hopefully he continues making movies for years to come.
Crazy Is As Crazy Does
In 2014 Shia LaBeouf was accused of plagiarizing author Daniel Clowes. Following this event LaBeouf went on to do a slew of “Performance Art Pieces.” He also from time to time will speak his mind about his past co-stars and employers. All of these events receive vast media attention and thrust him further into the spotlight.
- January 2014 — At the Berlin Film Festival his erratic behavior caused controversy when he appeared on the red carpet donning a paper bag on his head with the words “I am not famous anymore.” written on it.
- January 2014 — Two days later he staged a six-day performance art piece that he named #IAMSORRY. An event open to the public, he allow people to select props that defined his body of work.
- February 2014 — He performed " piece via Skype titled "Meditation for Narcissists" where he jumped rope for an hour.
- June 2014 — He was arrested for disorderly conduct and criminal trespassing at a showing of Cabaret on Broadway.
- August 2015 — He released the now infamous “Just Do It” motivational speech YouTube video. It currently sits at twenty million views.
- September 2016 — During an interview with Varitey he "slams" Steven Spielberg and his films.
Shia LaBeouf claims that most of these actions are reflections on metamodernism. Media coverage of these events have leaned more into the realm of LaBeouf seeking attention rather than a strange form of cerebral art. The arrest is the one thing that he can't spin as performance art. If that were the case we'd have a lot more artists in the world. He has always been in the habit of saying what’s on his mind at any given time. His comments about Steven Spielberg being the most recent, this behavior understandably could give future employers pause.
When Worlds Collide
So how do Shia LaBeouf’s antics off set affect his career? Well it would appear that they are not as separate as they seem. Numerous reports over the years have come out that LaBeouf is just as intense on set. He’s well known for having no filter when involving the press. It is then easy to make the logical conclusion that he is the same with his co-stars during filming.
He has reportedly had clashes with several of his co-stars. During filming of Lawless it was reported that LaBeouf and Tom Hardy got into a physical altercation. It was later discovered that accounts of the fight were greatly exaggerated. It has to be noted that this is the one and only instance of LaBeouf ever taking a disagreement on set this far.
Three years later while filming Fury, LaBeouf allegedly engaged in an argument with co-star Scott Eastwood. During filming Eastwood was spitting on the floor of the tank that they had been shooting in. Brad Pitt confronted Eastwood about it when LaBeouf jumped in and words were had between he and Eastwood. The argument was quickly squashed and nothing came of it. That is of course with the exception that it garnered mass media attention.
These incidents at a glance could fit with the overall idea that LaBeouf is the same off screen as he is on. The physical confrontation with Tom Hardy could be seen as a giant red flag. That sort of behavior is unacceptable even if it is a one-time thing. Warner Bros. has already voiced their opinion on whether or not he is too risky to employ for certain projects. This could be a trend or an isolated incident in which we can only speculate. As far as chronicity, these incidents appear to be few and far between.
The answer to our titular question is an easy one. His career regarding big budget films definitely does suffer. He can be viewed as an unnecessary risk as Warner Brother’s allegedly thought. In spite of all of the controversy Shia LaBeouf is still thriving. He has steered his career away from blockbuster action films; the last of which being the Transformers: Dark of the Moon, which was released over five years ago. He has since settled into more dramatic roles in smaller budget films, which is undoubtedly more in his wheelhouse.
With everything on the table it’s easy to see why public perception is that Shia LaBeouf isn’t wound too tightly. On one side, his body of work, praise from co-stars and directors, and pure ability speak for itself. On the opposite side of the coin, his erratic behavior, clashes on set, and his wanton disregard for censoring himself looks bad. In fairness, he’s only human. Everyone does things they are not proud of. His actions are just made more public because of his celebrity status. The main through line is that his actions do get people talking. When all is said and done, whatever his motives, any press is good press. The question now becomes: Does Shia LaBeouf care that this affects him?
Worthy of a performance art piece all on its own, check out Shia over the years in the video below:
Sound off! What do you think? What are your feelings on Shia LaBeouf? Let it be known in the comments below!