Shia LaBeouf’s Role Models Are His Manipulative Father, Sean Penn, & Mel Gibson
All the weird stuff that has been going on in Shia LaBeouf's life lately is starting to make a lot more sense. The actor has been making the rounds on the talk show circuit trying to explain his recent legal troubles. You may recall the little arrest that happened in June at the Broadway show Cabaret after he started smoking in the theater and slapped Alan Cumming's ass while he was performing. It turns out he was just really wasted and downplayed the whole thing, which made me cringe more than laugh because it seems like he does not know when enough is enough. Further proving my theory that LaBeouf doesn't know the meaning of "enough" is the story that emerged of the actor cutting his own face during the filming of Fury all in the name of "method acting." In an article that came out recently in Interview Magazine, Shia LaBeouf revealed that his role models include his emotionally manipulative father, Sean Penn, and Mel Gibson, all of which make me believe that he needs to find some new role models immediately.
In the interview, the 28-year-old paints himself as the anti-Tom Hanks type. He's not the good guy and he's not the role model that some people wanted him to be. He recalled that earlier in his career one of his idols Steven Spielberg told him, "Tom Cruise never picks his nose in public." And apparently LaBeouf's reaction to that was to go as far away from the polished, stand-up guy like Cruise that the director wanted him to be.
And all I thought was, "I don't want to be Tom Cruise." It was this gut reaction. And Steven was a hero in my house ... He made that comment to me right around the time Vanity Fair put out a piece with me in a spacesuit saying I was the next Tom Hanks. And though I respect both Hanks and Cruise, it just didn't appeal to my sensibilities. They're both great actors. But I just didn't feel like we were cut from the same fabric. My upbringing was darker. The guys who I looked up to were far darker. So I rejected that label hard.
His rough upbringing in Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, with a working mother and drug-dealing father, has given him a great deal of painful memories from which to pull his inspiration from. It's that darker past, that place of pain, which allows him to connect with actors like Sean Penn, Joaquin Phoenix, and Mel Gibson, all of whom LaBeouf feels he can connect with much more than actors who pull their inspiration from lighter places. He said, "You look at Mel Gibson, you go, 'He knows that there's a lot of magic in that rage that he has.' I've been scared for a long time to let go of the anger that I have. I use it."
The Fury star also reveals details about his continued troubled relationship with his father that provides the basis from which he motivates himself through anger:
The only thing my father gave me that was of any value to me is pain. The only time my dad will ever talk to me is when I need him at work. He knows to pick up the Skype phone call, and he knows what I'm looking for. It's not to say "Hey, Dad." We manipulate each other. We service each other. I use him when I go to work. It's not a real conversation; it's just an excuse to rev up. He's the marionette puppeteer. My dad is the key to most of my base emotions. My greatest and my worst memories are with my father, all my major trauma and major celebration came from him. It's a negative gift. And I'm not ready to let go of it, because anger has a lot of power.
There's a lot of honesty in the entire article and it makes a lot of sense in a sad way that LaBeouf connects to the actors that he does. His "I Am Not Famous" red carpet stunt complete with the bag over his head can't help but conjure up reminders of Joaquin Phoenix's weird long-bearded "I'm Still Here" hoax, something the actor said helped to liberate his career. Penn and Gibson as role models are problematic, from Penn's history of abuse to Gibson's multiple anti-Semitic and racist comments. These are not the role models that LaBeouf needs, especially when his career is pressing onwards and upwards to better projects despite his recent legal troubles.
All hope for the actor is not yet lost, because it seems that he's honestly trying to change his ways. In the Interview article, LaBeouf articulates himself extremely well and there's a sense that he knows more about what's going on his head than he lets on in public. He's the kind of person who psychologically delves very deeply into each of his projects and needs to remind himself of who he is after every role. After working on Fury, the actor said in all seriousness that the role helped him find God and that he is starting to look up to Brad Pitt after seeing the thought and dedication he puts into every character he plays. LaBeouf is now trying to separate who he is as person from who plays in a movie:
My work in my film and my work in my life have influenced who I've become. Life imitates art. And so a lot of my choices, these characters that I've been playing, have actually built a person, they've raised me. So I've just been more careful about my choices. I've taken control back. After calamity comes hope. And I do feel a deep hopefulness in my life and in my work.
The entire Interview Magazine article is absolutely worth a read. LaBeouf is being more honest than ever and by the end of it, you'll find yourself rooting for him and hoping he finds different influences in his life. There's a sense of fearlessness in his honesty and we'll see if the future holds less public stunts and more quality acting from this young star.
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