I know that Shia LaBeouf will likely never read this.
I know that the opinion of a young man living in Minnesota, with virtually no clout of his own, won't matter to the vast majority of people, most of all the man himself.
I know that Mr. LaBeouf has gone on record saying that he felt he "dropped the ball [on]", as well as all the others involved in the production of, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
But, entirely hypothetically speaking, if I COULD write a letter to Shia LaBeouf, that I knew he would see, and read, and take seriously, this is what I would say to him:
Dear Mr. LaBeouf,
I want to, with complete sincerity and honesty, tell you that I'm an admirer of your acting talent. I remember being impressed with your comedic timing in films like Transformers, Disturbia and Holes, and I even enjoyed your bit parts in films like Constantine and I, Robot. I truly consider you a talented person, and I think a lot of the hatred that is thrown your way is uncalled for and overblown.
In particular, one role of yours that continues to get relentless vitriol is that of Mutt Williams, the son of Indiana Jones.
I know you've publicly expressed disappointment in the film, and your role in it. And I know this has in some form damaged your relationships with Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford. I know that many people even consider you a dishonorable and ungrateful person for such words.
I'm also aware of the recent controversies sparked by your public behavior, including the "I Am Sorry" event, and this has only reinforced the mentality that you never were anything special to begin with, and were simply (to borrow a prominent term of your haters) a 'flavor of the month' star.
I am not interested in discussing whatever feelings I have about these various incidents. I am writing to you to tell you that, no, you are not to blame for whatever flaws in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. On the contrary, I consistently think you and your role are one of its best features. Allow me to explain:
I've been an Indiana Jones fan most of my life, and so was thrilled to be seeing his return at long last when the fourth film was released. I saw Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in theaters at least five times that summer, and enjoyed it every go round. And from the first viewing, I was a champion of the Mutt Williams character, for what he brings to the movie.
I saw an endearing, funny and interesting character who acted as a wonderful foil for Indiana Jones, his youthful arrogance and street-wise attitude contrasting with Indy's stern and mature personality. Their banter is a joy to watch, every single time. I give you all the credit in the world for your terrific comedic timing and chemistry with Harrison Ford. As far as I'm concerned, in a film that sadly doesn't do a tremendous lot with its supporting cast, you shone very brightly as the movie's best-realized and executed supporting character.
I know that this is a very, very, very unpopular opinion. I know it is a popular interpretation that the film was widely panned upon release, and is thought of as a laughingstock for the genre and the worst of the Indy films. And it is deeply frustrating that of all the elements that receive the most criticism (valid as they might be sometimes), one that is undeserved is the relentless mocking and dismissal of Mutt and your performance.
I find this to be almost tragically unfair. I confess, I do have some issues with how some aspects of the film were handled. Specifically, I think the third act was deeply flawed on a script level, and failed to provide a thrilling climax and resonant fates for characters like Mac and Oxley. But never, not once, was Mutt one of my problems with it. How ironic, that in a movie with a decent number of reasonable things to call 'flaws', your performance is singled out so consistently, when it is far and away the most enjoyable part of the film aside from Indy himself?
I lament that a fifth Indiana Jones film has yet to pass, and that it possibly has been delayed in part by the increasing tide of negative press the fourth film gets on the Internet. I would have loved to see another adventure that would further explore the new relationship between Indy and his son, and allow for Harrison Ford to end his run as the character on the ultimate high note. It seems unlikely to happen now, though, given that Ford's age is increasing every day, and he is also involved in the upcoming Star Wars film. And even if he were free to do it now, no script exists, and George Lucas has seemingly ceased work on the film's story.
It appears the window for one more film with Ford, and thus with you as Mutt, has closed, and that's very unfortunate. I definitely am open to the concept of a reboot someday, but I would have really loved to see what new, fun directions Mutt could have gone in with his development as a character.
In conclusion, I felt it was important that you know there is at least one Indiana Jones fan, who not only enjoyed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for the most part, but was also very fond of your work in it. And I am not the only one. I know the roar and jeers of the haters can be overwhelming, but the film DOES have its supporters, and Mutt his own fans. I am proud to call myself one of them, and I hope that this letter, in some way, helps you recognize that you are more talented than you probably realize, and certainly more than many people want you to believe. I think you have great potential to become a phenomenal character actor, if not a full-blown movie star. I look forward to seeing your future work, and if by some miracle that includes a reprisal of Mutt Williams...I will be the first to cheer.
I know Shia LaBeouf will never read this. But that is what I would tell him.
Thank you for reading.
I know that Shia LaBeouf will likely never read this.