He just is.
By Angelina Zervos
He stole the hearts of preteen girls in “Even Stevens,” captivated audiences in “Holes,” and who can forget when he paired up with Sia and Maddie Ziegler to bring us an astounding piece of interpretive art? That’s right, I’m talking about Shia LaBeouf and everyone else should be talking about him too.
A couple weeks back, I was looking for a good movie to see in theaters, and an odd title stood out to me: “The Peanut Butter Falcon.” Even odder, Shia LeBeouf was starring as the lead. A flood of childhood nostalgia washed over me; I hadn’t seen a movie with Shia in it in years. Last I heard, he had been off doing performance art and getting into bar fights. I checked this new film out and was taken aback; it’s a great movie. Shia’s performance was excellent; he’s an amazing actor. But I wasn’t surprised. I already knew he was a great actor, didn’t I? No one has ever made muddy water in an onion patch oasis in the middle of the desert look as refreshing as he did in “Holes.”
Why isn’t Shia LaBeouf starring alongside Leonardo DiCaprio in the latest Tarentino blockbuster? Why did the theater I went to see “Peanut Butter Falcon” in only have one other person in it? Perhaps it may have to do with what I call the “2000s Disney Syndrome,” where childhood actors beloved by Gen Z’ers have to put a little extra effort to become mainstream, lest they fade into the deep recesses of twenty-something-year-old’s memories where they are forgotten forever…unless they become a pop singer. Maybe it has to do with the loads of bad publicity he’s received over the years which, compared to the other compromising information that’s been coming out about other celebs and public figures, makes him look like a saint (crossing my fingers that he never dressed up in blackface). I mean, so what if the guy got into a couple scuffles at ye olde pub and landed himself in jail? Robert Downey Jr. is among the highest paid actors of our time and had a notorious relationship with benders and “controlled substances.” Am I comparing apples to oranges? I think not.
I can’t seem to figure it out. One day he goes from starring alongside Brad Pitt in the 2014 movie “Fury” to only selling three tickets in the U.K. to his 2017 film “Man Down” (which is impressive in its own right). “What do you think of Shia Labeouf?” I ask a room full of my peers. “Who?” someone replies. Here is my chance. I can shed light on Hollywood’s unappreciated resident. How do I explain him? Which film best encapsulates his talent? I break under pressure; I must refer to his better-known works, “You know, the guy from ‘Transformers,’” I sigh. “Oh, yeah…I know him.” I failed. Someone else replies, “He’s awesome in ‘The Greatest Game Ever Played,’ that’s a dope golf movie.” Interesting results, Shia is either unknown or remembered for obscure nostalgic works. A quick google search shows that he has starred in over forty films and television shows, yet he seems to infiltrate only a niche sphere of Hollywood. The man had an entire song written about him that was performed live, yet he still fails to break into the mainstream world where all famous live: the realm of Perez Hilton, WatchMojo and People Magazine.
I write this as a dedicated Shia Labeouf supporter. Not only is he an amazing actor, arguably the best of our time, he’s also a pretty great person. He now spends his time as an acting teacher for kids from disadvantaged neighborhoods and schools. His new autobiographical movie, “Honey Boy,” comes out next month and I encourage everyone to see it.