Shia LaBeouf: A History Of Being Terrible
Shia LeBeouf’s name has been in the news a lot recently after disputing claims that he was fired from Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling, and thanks to an appearance at the Venice Film Festival to promote his latest film – oh, and also because it’s become even more clear that the Indiana Jones franchise just straight-up replaced him with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (plus, presumably, a brief line about how Indy’s son Mutt was eaten by wolves offscreen between movies).
We’ve talked before about how certain actors and comedians have long track records of abject awfulness, so now may be an apt time to look back at the ways LaBeouf has been an unrelenting giant creep over the years, starting with how …
He Plagiarized An Indie Comic (And Then Plagiarized His Plagiarism Apology)
Back in 2013, the Transformers actor made headlines for “abruptly” quitting his first Broadway show over “creative differences.” Reportedly, he couldn’t get along with co-star Alec Baldwin, which … yeah, fair enough. LaBeouf addressed the story by Tweeting out his email letter of apology that was sent to the cast, which people noticed seemed to have been copied from a 2009 Esquire article.
No one seemed too upset (even the author of the article was amused by the whole thing), but weirdly, this incident foreshadowed the tempest of excrement that was about to come. In 2012, LaBeouf made his directorial debut with a short film called Howard Cantour.com, starring Jim Gaffigan as an awkward film critic, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.
But when the film was uploaded to the internet in December 2013, it became very apparent that the film lifted extremely specific creative elements from the 2007 comic Justin M. Damiano by artist Daniel Clowes, perhaps most famous for Ghost World. The A.V. Club noted at the time that “just about the only original line in Howard is in the credits, which deems the work ‘A Film By Shia LaBeouf.’”
Clowes issued a statement claiming that he was “shocked, to say the least,” that LaBeouf “took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work,” adding: “I actually can't imagine what was going through his mind.” It wasn’t long before LaBeouf pseudo-apologized – but somehow, his “apology” just made everything way worse.
On Twitter, LaBeouf claimed to have been “lost in the creative process” and “neglected to follow proper accreditation,” revealing that he was “embarrassed” that he “failed” to give Clowes credit – but then people noticed that some of LaBeouf’s oddly-defensive remarks were themselves seemingly “plagiarized from Yahoo Answers.” Which is a little like trying to beat a public urination charge by whizzing all over the police station.
If that wasn’t evidence enough that LaBeouf seemingly had no remorse over the incident, he also hired a skywriting plane to fly the message “I am sorry Daniel Clowes” over Los Angeles (despite the fact that Clowes doesn’t actually live there) and shared storyboards for his next short, Daniel Boring, a transparent rip-off of Clowes’ David Boring – he also Tweeted out the cease-and-desist letter he received from Clowes’ lawyers, complaining that now our stories are “owned for profit.”
We can’t help but point out that the target of LaBeouf’s relentless provocations wasn’t some giant entertainment conglomerate, or cold-blooded multi-millionaire Hollywood producer, it was an independent comic book artist who by all accounts is just a nice, normal dude. And then …
He Tried To Turn Being An Asshole Into Performance Art
After using pretentious questions of the nature of authorship to defend what was simply a case of not having an original idea for a short film, stealing someone else’s work, and refusing to accept the consequences, LaBeouf then tried to turn the whole thing into … performance art? First, he showed up to the 2014 Cannes premiere of Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac with a paper bag over his head, famously displaying the message “I Am Not Famous Anymore” scrawled on the front.
He expanded this self-flagellating overreaction to what could have perhaps been remedied with one sincere, not-stolen apology into an art installation in which he sat in a room with his trademark bag over his head. Dubbed “#IAMSORRY,” the event’s description stated that “Shia LaBeouf is sorry. Sincerely sorry.” Again, there was really just one person that LaBeouf genuinely owed an apology to, and as we just mentioned, he continued being a dick to said person for no goddamn reason.
Horrifyingly, LaBeouf was reportedly the victim of sexual assault during this installation. And while we don’t want to downplay that he was the victim of this real-life crime, which is obviously shocking and terrible, the project as a whole, in which LaBeouf allegedly cried for attendees, felt like LaBeouf re-framing himself as the victim, the person who’s not “famous anymore,” because he did a crappy thing.
More recently, LaBeouf similarly used his art as a way of casting himself as a victim in the eyes of the public, with the 2019 Honey Boy, written by LaBeouf based on his own experiences as a child actor. LaBeouf earned praise for playing his own abusive, alcoholic father.
Critics wrote about how the film “exposes the wounds” of LaBeouf’s childhood and how “outside of the spotlight he was regularly abused by his alcoholic stage-dad.” But on a recent podcast, LaBeouf admitted that none of that was true. According to the former Even Stevens star, it was all “just f**king nonsense,” clarifying: “my dad never hit me, never. He spanked me once, one time,” even though “the story that gets painted in Honey Boy is this dude is abusing his kid all the time.”
And we really have to talk about …
LaBeouf Is Being Sued For “Relentless Abuse” By His Former Partner, FKA twigs
Over the years, there have been many stories about LaBeouf getting in violent physical altercations; like bar fights, and the time he allegedly punched Tom Hardy on the set of Lawless (where he also freaked out co-star Mia Wasikowska who tried to quit the film due to his method approach, which required ingesting large quantities of moonshine). He also went on a “racist rant” while being arrested for “public drunkenness and disorderly conduct” in 2017. And then there was the time he was arrested for disrupting a Broadway production of Cabaret after slapping star Alan Cumming’s butt. The same night he was also seen “chasing after a man who appeared to be homeless,” which spectators assumed was because he was simply “working on a role.”
LaBeouf has been very public about his struggles with alcoholism and now says that he’s been sober for “more than a year and a half.” LaBeouf also claims that he has converted to Catholicism and that “Mel Gibson has taken him under his wing.” Someone really needs to tell him that there are far better PR moves than “It’s cool, I’m taking my cues from Mel Gibson now.”
And while we’re not saying that people don’t deserve a second chance (although, to be fair, this would be like his 32nd chance), Shia LaBeouf has been accused of some truly vile stuff by his former partner, musician FKA twigs, who is currently suing him for “relentless abuse” including “sexual battery, assault and infliction of emotional distress.”
FKA twig’s lawsuit accuses LaBeouf of being physically abusive, in incidents that include allegedly throwing her against a parked car after threatening to crash it “unless she professed her love for him,” choking her in the middle of the night, and “knowingly” giving her “a sexually transmitted disease.” According to another former girlfriend, LaBeouf allegedly “drunkenly pinned her to a bed and head-butted her,” causing her to bleed.
All of which serve as a good reminder that we shouldn’t celebrate someone just because they’re not part of the trainwreck that is the Don’t Worry Darling press tour.
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