Imagine being 21 years old on the verge to star in the next big movie franchise. Sprinkle in one of the world’s most renowned movie producers, too. Well that was Shia LaBeouf, entering the fray of Hollywood with the first entry to the Transformers series in 2007.
“Starring in a movie with Spielberg is like holding onto a rocket ship and then floating in orbit. Then you crash land, for some. Others have a parachute… and you find your footing again.”
2014 would be the last year we’d see him in a “big time” movie. Fury hit theaters with Brad Pitt as the commander of a US armored unit during WWII with Shia playing gunner Boyd “Bible” Swan , a supporting cast member.
While the young actor got his start on the Disney Channel, the past several years saw Shia immerse himself in not so ideal situations. Most of you will remember the infamous meme of him shouting “JUST DO IT!” in front of a green screen. I would later see him randomly freestyle with strangers in the streets and learned of LaBeouf watching his own movies for 10 hours on a Youtube stream. Shortly after, he was arrested for public drunkenness while yelling obscenities at a police officer.
Most of us thought he’d gone crazy. Another Brittney Spears. Another Amanda Bynes. Another Miley Cyrus.
But in a recent interview with MTV, Shia reveals his twenties left him feeling lost, scared, and out to prove himself: “you gotta get arrested a few times. At least this was my thinking, my Daria, post-modern view of acting. And so I chased a certain kinda thing. I’m not saying every fuck-up was conscious, but I wasn’t not conscious of it.”
Shia is cognizant he’s lucky to have survived this far into his acting career. It took a bit, but he expressed he’s found his space.
“You haven’t been in a studio film in about 5 years. How often do you see a studio film and say I could see myself in that?” asked MTV correspondent Josh Horowitz.
Confidently, Shia responds with “I don’t pick roles on whose producing the movie. No way. I was doing studio movies for a while and lost my sensibilities and lost my connection to the material.”
What he hasn’t lost, though, are lessons and relationships from previous acting roles. Shia details how Even Stevens taught him how to be comfortable in front of the camera, and how he still holds friendships from Holes and Transformers close to his heart.
Nowadays, you’ll find Shia trying to change the world. The Slauson Rec. Theater Company in Los Angeles opens its doors every Saturday from 9am-2pm. A safe space for trouble youths to discover their love for drama and theater.
Here, you’ll find actors and non-actors alike gelling together to create what Shia calls a makeshift utopian society – no writers dictate the moves and emotions in the room, instead, the actors themselves steer how the scene will play out. Often, it’ll take up to a month to produce a minute of screenplay. If you’re lucky, you might find figures like James Cameron, Tim Robbin and Kid Cudi helping out.
Throughout the interview, you’ll find a 33-year-old man who has carefully survived the trials and tribulations of Hollywood. You can hear it in his voice.
I urge you to check out the rest of his interview. For many of us that may be struggling with self-discovery post college, it’s nice to know that even if you are floating in orbit (looking for your first “real” job, trying to move out, struggling with personal issues), you’ll find your footing eventually.