This Shia LaBeouf Theory May Turn Your World Upside Down

by Kristie Rohwedder
Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

This theory is a weird one, and I couldn’t be more here for it. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed unearthed a Reddit conspiracy theory from over a year ago that is as bizarre as it is riveting. (Seriously, what an outstanding find.) I wouldn’t go so far to say it’s as strange as, say, the Avril Lavigne clone theory, but it’s still a bonkers ride. According to Reddit user RamsesThePigeon, actor Shia LaBeouf does not exist. RamsesThePigeon’s quick, one-sentence summary of the theory: “TL;DR: ‘Shia LeBeouf’ is not a real person, but the Internet has convinced you that he is.” Intrigued? Whether you’re ready or not, we are about to jump in. Put on your conspiracy floaties.

RamsesThePigeon does not reveal their sources or explain how this conspiracy came to be (I like to think Beans from Even Stevens scrawled all of the details onto a piece of parchment, wrapped the paper around a pound of bacon, and sent the package to RamsesThePigeon), but whatever. That doesn't make the conspiracy any less special. I mean, yeah, it is far-fetched, so it should only be taken with a grain of salt. I’m not accepting the theory as fact, but I am appreciating it for the work of art that it is.

The theory begins,

Back in 2001, actor Louis Stevens was just an up-and-coming child star on the Disney Channel. It was manufactured stardom (of the sort that we've seen from entities like Britney Spears or Justin Timberlake), but it had the potential to go a long way. Stevens, however, had other ideas, so he invented the persona of "Shia LeBeouf." He chose the name because it means "praise god for the beef" in the original Gaulish, and his stated intention with the character was to have it be a caricature of fame (with meat or "the beef" being a representation of both wealth and influence).

But what about Shia’s father, Jeffrey LaBeouf? Would this mean his dad changed his last name to support the persona his young son invented? Or does that poke holes in this entire conspi— ack, I’m sorry. I’m spoiling the fun.

RamsesThePigeon continues,

Other actors have done similar things, of course. Everyone is familiar with Sacha Baren Cohen's "Ali G" or "Borat," for instance, and surprisingly few people realize that "Larry the Cable Guy" is a character played by Daniel Whitney (who developed the fake Southern accent he uses by meshing the Georgian and Texan accents of his college roommates). The thing is, there's still plenty of available evidence for those folks' real identities.

But where is the available evidence for LaBeouf/Stevens' real identity? Oh, RamsesThePigeon is on it:

When Stevens created Shia LeBeouf, however, he went as far as to hire "reputation editors" and public image consultants to erase any hints of who he really is. In fact, if you were to research "Louis Stevens" nowadays, you'd actually find references to him being a character played by Shia LeBeouf.
It's an incredibly subtle piece of meta-commentary, I'm sure you'll agree.

If my math is correct, this theory would mean Louis Stevens was playing Shia LaBeouf playing Louis Stevens on Even Stevens. I love it. I love all of it.

Let’s keep going:

Anyway, in recent years, the Internet has helped keep "Shia LeBeouf" alive in ways that Stevens couldn't have predicted. While it's true that he has been credited as the character in everything he has done since adopting the pseudonym, the vast amount of media dedicated to the fabricated entity has done far, far more. For example, many people like to reference the song about Shia LeBeouf, sung by Rob Cantor, in which a standard day in the fictional actor's life is detailed, or the infamous "Just do it!" clip that went viral some time ago.

What if LaBeouf the actor/performance artist is a work of performance art? What if LaBeouf the actor/performance artist is a character? What if LaBeouf is really Louis Stevens? And what if Hilary Duff is really Lizzie McGuire? And what if Christy Carlson Romano is really Kim Possible? And what if Kim Possible is really Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone? And what if Cadet Captain Jennifer Stone is really Ren Stevens? (Yes, I am having a blast. Thank you for asking.)

One more thing from RamsesThePigeon:

Stevens has recently stated that he might retire the character soon, of course, but for now... the people who realize that "Shia LeBeouf" is a lie created by an actor (and expanded by the Internet) are in the significant minority.

I assume “Stevens has recently stated that he might retire the character soon” refers to LaBeouf’s (or is it Stevens?) 2014 declaration that he would retire from public life. The retirement never happened, Louis Stevens remains a fictional character, and LaBeouf keeps on LaBeoufing.

Here’s something to consider: The theory was prompted by AskReddit question “What’s the biggest lie the internet has created?” Is RamsesThePigeon calling Shia LaBeouf’s existence an internet-fueled lie, or are they trying to tell us something else? Perhaps the theory that Shia LaBeouf’s existence is a lie is actually the lie. Wow. This Reddit post truly is a masterpiece.

Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Who is Shia LeBouf?