Opinions – we all got ’em…Even Trial By Films does. When we do, we’ll let you know. This is one of those times.
Last weekend, actor Shia LaBeouf was arrested in Savannah, Georgia at 4 am; on charges of public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and obstruction after responding aggressively to a police office who declined to give him a cigarette when approached. This continues a pattern of run-ins with law enforcement and the legal system for LaBeouf that dates back well over a decade. Having been in the public eye since the early aughts, LaBeouf (only 31 years old now) has allowed missteps in his personal life to ostracize him from the film community. At one time considered one of the top up-and-coming actors of his generation, his career has been derailed by poor decisions brought on by his penchant for alcohol. While he can still secure roles in smaller indies (which are probably best suited to show off his unique talents), he hasn’t appeared in a major film release since 2014’s Fury. You’d have to go back to 2012’s Lawless to find a major film release where he was the primary featured talent.
LaBeouf’s reputation precedes him in the tabloids; labeling him a drunken delinquent that gets into scuffles with any willing participant. That this is what has become of his young career is a shame because even with his on-going legal troubles, LaBeouf has continued to crank out interesting, unique, and charismatic performances in a wide variety of film roles. Not every role and film he signs on for has been a hit, but this Trial By Films favorite has garnered 4 Hitchaboos and another 2 Honorable Mentions in a short career that includes star-making performances in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, Lawless, and last year’s American Honey.
There is something about LaBeouf when he gets on screen that can best be described as magnetic. Some actors have it and others don’t – he does. His intense performances; accounts include method acting such as scarring his face for a role as a tank operator in Fury to make the wounds more real, are one of a kind. The moment LaBeouf arrives on screen in last year’s American Honey, he hypnotizes not only Sasha Lane’s Star, but viewers with his blend of blue collar swagger and inebriated confidence. Even in lesser films, such as 2013’s Charlie Countryman, he gives us reason to not press the off button.
LaBeouf is a person that apparently is able to compartmentalize his chaotic personal life to allow for his talent to shine in each role he signs on for. The threat here is losing that balance and sinking further away in his personal life until his talent is overwhelmed by his demons, or until directors are sick of him. Its worth remembering that before he was Marvel’s Ironman, Robert Downey Jr. spent nearly a year in California State Prison while battling his own addictions in the 90s. Us here at Trial By Films don’t claim to know the Shia LaBeouf not seen on screen or in the tabloids, but if that sample has any truth, we hope he doesn’t have to follow in the footsteps of many other young, talented actors derailed by personal strife.
LaBeouf can next be seen later this year as John McEnroe in the tennis rivalry flick Borg/McEnroe; a role he looks to be well cast in from the early trailers released last week. Here is hoping LaBeouf can balance his personal struggles and his career, so he can continue providing us with memorable performances in the future.