Look, we're all guilty of it. For months now — years, actually — everybody's been asking whether or not Shia LaBeouf is insane. Crazy or faking it? Douchebag or smart self-publicist? Staging an epic piece of performance art that never seems to end? The questions roll easily off the tongue, but perhaps we've been missing the point all along.
Here's my theory: Shia LaBeouf might be a bit mental, or he might be perfectly sane. He's definitely an ace at playing the tabloids at their own game. But the point some of us have been missing is that he's not just a celebrity, or a tabloid fave — he's an actor, an artist, and his talent and body of work are what's really insane, not his state of mind.
Let's just remind ourselves of where this guy started out — even if Shia himself would clearly rather forget...
Before he was a fully-fledged superstar — or an anti-superstar, if you will — Shia kickstarted his career with the lead role in Transformers. If you've seen Transformers, you have my sympathy, and if you haven't then congrats — your life is on the right track.
By the time Wall Street sequel Money Never Sleeps came along, Shia seemed to be taking his art a little more seriously, and in 2013 he unleashed Charlie Countryman.
Unfortunately nobody watched it, but this is where Shia's career starts to get interesting as it becomes obvious he's less bothered about commercial success than he is about making a statement with his work. Rupert Grint also stars, but don't let that put you off.
Arguably Shia's biggest artistic statement to date, though, was a certain, sexually-charged five-hour epic...
Lars von Trier lays claim to the title of one of today's most visceral directors, and with Nymphomaniac he pushed the boundaries of sex on the big screen. Shia gives probably his finest performance to date in the film, but don't just take my word for it — check it out for yourself on Netflix. Another brilliant performance came in the form of 2016's coming of age drama American Honey.
Before #ALLMYMOVIES began, the world wrote it off as just another publicity stunt from that guy who wore a bag on his head on the red carpet. But the tide of opinion began to turn as we realized that there was more to Shia than these tiring labels. Writing for Vanity Fair, Katey Rich sums it up best:
"Is this the beginning of a whole new Shia LaBeouf, at least in how the public perceives him? Who knows — it might only take one more Walgreens arrest for people to go back to thinking of him as pretentious and entitled. But by opening up in this way, first with his facial expressions on the live stream and then in this remarkable interview, LaBeouf really has accomplished what he set out to do: letting us see him as a human again. Here’s hoping it lasts."
Whether you love him or hate him, it's difficult to deny that Shia has turned his own existence into a piece of ongoing art, and his unpredictable filmography is a major element of that. So next time somebody asks you "do you think Shia LaBeouf is crazy?", perhaps your answer will be a little different.
Shia, we salute you, and we can't wait to see what's next.