‘His worst shit is better than my best dreams of my best shit’
-Shia LaBeouf, 24.01.2014
Shia LaBeouf. Child actor turned Hollywood superstar. Tooth puller. Beard grower. Bag wearer. Artist. Plagiarist. Cannibal. Ok, so perhaps allegations of LaBeouf’s carnivorous activities are the fictitious invention of an extremely catchy YouTube song called ‘Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf’, but the rest of those titles are valid.
Beloved of 90’s kids everywhere, the 27 year old Californian got his break in the Even Stevens show before bagging his first movie lead with Holes in 2003. Since then, LaBeouf has gone on to work with the biggest names in Hollywood; he’s been directed by heavyweights Spielberg and Stone and shared screen time with legends like Harrison Ford, Will Smith and Michael Douglas. After 16 years in showbiz, it seems as though Shia has decided to push his career to the next level, Joaquin Phoenix style.
It all began in December of last year, when Shia’s short film ‘Howard Cantour.com’ turned out to be a shamelessly unaccredited adaptation of a comic by Daniel Clowes. Rumbled and humbled, LaBeouf hit Twitter to make his amends to Clowes, but it soon emerged that the apologies were directly lifted from internet message boards. Next there came ‘sky writing’ apologies and the firm announcement that he would be withdrawing ‘from all public life’, accompanied with the hashtag #iamnotfamousanymore.
LaBeouf detractors are of the opinion that his fame has scrambled his brain, but his red carpet appearance at the Berlin premiere of Nymphomaniac highlights his irrefutable intelligence. Dressed in a sharp tux, Shia wore a bag on his head emblazoned with the words ‘I Am Not Famous Anymore’. The press (and of course the internet) went wild, a frenzy which was further fuelled by his re-enactment of Eric Cantona’s seagull speech.
Such stunts are evidently pre-planned, and Shia has pulled them off with a tactician’s precision, generating unprecedented interest in him and his films. His brilliant self-awareness was proven yet again with the #iamsorry exhibition, in which he allowed gawkers to make fools of themselves while he stared silently through his custom paper bag. LaBeouf’s supposedly English accent in In Lars Von Trier’s new film Nymphomaniac is undoubtedly his pièce de résistance; in a four hour movie about sex addiction, his pronunciation of words like ‘fiver’ and ‘knickers’ are by far the most memorable parts.
Contemporaries Seth Rogen and Emile Hirsch, among others, have gone public with their disapproval of Shia’s childlike behaviour, but actor/artiste James Franco has just written a NYT essay defending him. Franco understands the pressures that come with international fame, and he applauds Shia for tearing down ‘the public creation that constrains him’. La Beouf is just a guy making the most of his position, and he has turned a mirror on the superficial media-conglomerate. The ridiculously overblown reaction to Shia’s fairly inconsequential behaviour proves just how shallow show business really is.
This article was originally written for The Mancunion student paper. All rights go to them.
Mancunion film page: http://mancunion.com/category/film/