Actor Shia LaBeouf cannot handle Germany’s climate–there’s something in the air there and it’s gone to his head. At the Berlinale, which ends tomorrow, he’s shown up at his film’s premiere wearing a paper bag (which reads “I’m not famous anymore”) over his head (while wearing a tuxedo, no less) and stormed out of a press conference after dribbling some nonsense about sardines and trawling.
And then there’s that L.A. performance art project of which he is the centerpiece, sitting at a table inside an art gallery and crying. The windows of the gallery are glazed, with black letters that read, #IAMSORRY Shia LaBeouf.
Here’s an example of the tweets that LaBeouf has been sending lately (follow him)
Because of these antics and the sordid gallery show some of us will put him on a pedestal and compare him to some fragile demi-god, a true artist making somber original statements on the travails of fame. And there will be others who will laugh at his meltdowns and excoriate him for his lack of decorum in general, whether on stage or in L.A.’s art galleries. Or, maybe this whole thing’s some promotional stunt for yet another Project by the Artist Known as Shia LaBeouf, coming late 2014. Mediocre performance-art doth not a better actor make.
I watched LaBeouf in the new Lars Von Trier movie “Nymphomaniac.” He pulled off an adequate performance. LaBeouf, like so many of Hollywood’s stars, is characterized more by his professionalism and dedication to his craft than by any particular distinction, as a man or as an actor. In all the movies he’s appeared in he could instantly be replaced by Actor B, C or D and you wouldn’t know the difference (a new Philip Seymour Hoffman isn’t born every day). And yet, let’s give credit where credit is due. LaBeouf has put in the time and the dedication, he’s paid his dues. So why be so willing to risk some, if not all of his fandom points with such mediocre and offensive behavior?
After rewatching LaBeouf in Berlin, I thought, what about the fans? When someone this famous becomes so unsavory, there is an impact on the public: disappointment, lack of interest. Putting fans and film-goers aside for a moment, what about his fellow cast-members at the press conference for “Nymphomaniac” when LaBeouf stormed out? Do they not look like fools as a result of it? And what about LaBeouf’s so poorly representing American cinema abroad? There have been many before him acting as he has in Berlin (hard to forget Joaquin Phoenix’s Backyard Greek tragedy of a few years ago).
Hard not to feel some schadenfreude here: when an average guy like Shia LaBeouf kicks up so much dust, he’s the one who ends up dusty.So, do I have a problem with big-name actors who make millions and create legions of adoring fans by the flick of a finger only to turn into some glassy-eyed, vomit-inducing zombie making an art project for L.A.’s unabatedly-vapid art crowd? Your guess.
MORE: Read this account from a journalist who sat at one of LaBeouf lets-have-ourselves-a-good-cry ponpon sessions.