Born to parents he’s repeatedly described as "hippies" and naturally interested in projects that fall well outside the lines most actors are willing to color within, Shia LaBeouf came out of the womb destined to be a bit of a weirdo. He was never going to be the type of guy who churns out bland romantic comedies and summers with Ben Affleck, but over the past few years, he’s pulled his toe out of the weirdness waters and plunged in headfirst without the slightest fear of what others might think. In fact, a case could be made that he’s Hollywood’s single most peculiar resident since Howard Hughes.
That’s not inherently a good or bad thing. At this point, it seems to be more of a mixed bag than anything else. That drive to be unique and do things has own way has led him to star in fascinating indie projects and direct unique music videos. It’s also led him to storm out of press conference, reveal pieces of personal information about others during interviews and get into dust-ups with the law. Someday, it will probably push him to teach a college English class at any Ivy League School, invent a new form of camping equipment, shoot someone with a crossbow or commit widespread voter fraud in support of a third party candidate. He’s a wild card in all the best and worst ways.
So, in honor of LaBeouf, let’s take a look back at 9 of the stranger situations the actor has found himself in.
Allegedly Threatened His Neighbor With A KnifeBack in 2005, LaBeouf arrived back at his apartment complex, but he was unable to pull in because a neighbor was talking to his girlfriend and blocking the garage. The actor, who was still an up and comer back then, laid on his horn and screamed at the dude to move. When he refused, LaBeouf allegedly went all Julia Stiles in 10 Things I Hate About You and intentionally hit the dude’s car. Hours later, he reportedly showed up at the same neighbor’s apartment with a knife, and the two fought it out before the cops showed up.
Of course, LaBeouf tells the story a little differently. During a 2008 interview with GQ, he told the outlet the brouhaha actually happened because the neighbor rear ended his mother and later insulted her. So, he got out a knife, brought along a friend and hit up the guy’s apartment, where he was allegedly jumped by six dudes before the cops showed up. You’re free to believe whichever version you like, especially since both are profoundly weird and both involve LaBeouf knocking on his neighbor’s apartment while wielding a knife.
Openly Talked About Sleeping With Other People’s GirlfriendsIt’s not particularly weird for actors to sleep with women who are attached. In fact, it’s not particularly weird for human beings to sleep with other people who are in committed relationships. An alarming percentage of us are selfish philanderers. What’s odd about LaBeouf, however, is how bizarrely okay he is with just admitting it, even when the alleged flings involve other celebrities who are very much attached—like his Transformers co-star Megan Fox. He told Details Magazine they had sex during an interview in 2011. By that point, she was, of course, married to Brian Austin Green, the same guy she was dating when the alleged fling would have taken place. A similar thing happened with Isabel Lucas, as well.
I’m all for celebrities getting honest during interviews and occasionally revealing a buried secret or two. It adds a whole lot of color to chit-chats that are normally really dry, but most people stay away from blurting things out that could have a very tangible effect on someone else’s life. Thankfully, Fox and Green seem to have worked it out just fine. Maybe that means LaBeouf’s allegation was bullshit. Maybe that means they were on some brief break-up at the time no one knew about. I don’t know. Either way, there’s now awkward sauce poured over every single picture LaBeouf and Fox took together.
Got Arrested At A WalgreensLaBeouf is far from the first child star to have run-ins with the law during his early twenties. At this point, we almost even expect the occasional disorderly conduct, possession or assault charge. Trespassing at a Walgreens in downtown Chicago, however, is a new one. LaBeouf was arrested on the misdemeanor charge back in 2007, and he’s since told the story publically on The Late Show With David Letterman. I’ll give you the cliff notes of his version.
Apparently, he went out to celebrate for his 21st birthday. After arriving back, he really, really wanted some cigarettes and his hotel didn’t sell them. So, he walked across the street to Walgreens, got distracted by pimple cream, found himself in a staredown with a security guard and bought the cream instead. He later returned to his hotel, realized his mistake, changed clothes in a drunken stupor and returned to the Walgreens for the cigarettes. After exchanging some ugly words with the security guard, he lost track of what he was doing and purchased Gummy Bears. So, he did what any reasonable person would do. He returned to his hotel room, changed outfits again and headed back to the same Walgreens, where he was promptly arrested for trespassing.
Let’s be honest. This one could have happened to quite a few of us while we were college-aged too.
Dropped Acid For A RoleHow far will an actor go in order to get into character? Everyone has a different line. Nick Nolte allegedly spent weeks wandering the streets of Los Angeles pretending to be homeless in preparation for his role in Down And Out In Beverly Hills. Let’s just say LaBeouf understands that impulse. After accepting a role in Charlie Countryman, the actor apparently dropped acid in front of the cast and crew. According to Harry Potter star Rupert Grint, he got naked, smashed things up and kept seeing an owl.
Don’t kid yourself. It’s far easier to take paycheck roles that don’t require going off on a ledge and getting into the headspace of someone outside your comfort zone. That’s one of the reasons why LaBeouf’s weirdness can’t just be laughed off or cited as a negative. His drive to be eccentric and to play different kinds of men pushes him as an actor and thus far, it has led to some pretty spectacular performances.
Emailed A Picture Of His Penis To Nymphomaniac ProducersBefore Nymphomaniac was a finished movie with a release date on the calendar, it was a strange idea that fired through Hollywood like a cannon. Lars Von Trier, a weirdo in his own right, was interested in hiring big name actors to shoot a movie about sex addiction that would require real sex. Naturally, LaBeouf was interested almost immediately. After preliminary conversations with producers, he was asked to take a picture of his penis and email it. He wasn’t told why. He wasn’t told if it was a requirement. The request was just thrown out there. So, he dropped his pants, got out a camera, took a snapshot of his dick and sent it along.
To this day, he has no idea what the hell producers had in mind. Was it a test? Were they checking to see if he had any kind of weird marks? Regardless, he proved he was on board without a second thought. To many, his decision to email it right over is very logical. In fact, it is logical, but the truth is an overwhelming majority of the leading men in Hollywood probably wouldn’t agree to such a request. If they were cast and the role required nudity, they would eventually get there, but it sure as shit wouldn’t involve something as shady as a casual request for a self dick photograph.
Got Naked In The Weirdest Music Video EverHonestly, a strong case could be made that the nudity is the most normal thing about this video. The footage is littered with interpretive dance movements and bizarre cut-to shots. It also has an odd obsession with butterflies, and the movements from LaBeouf and the female actress are almost jarring in their exaggeration. The whole thing is an absolute trip to watch, though I still haven’t the slightest idea why it exists or what message Sigur Ros was trying to deliver by shooting the promotional clip for "Fjogur Piano" in such a manner.
LaBeouf is a slave to his craft, and he just buys in without question. If he’s going to do something, he’s going to full-on, balls to the wall do it without any reservations or hang-ups. He just jumps into the deep end. That leads to quite a few performances in which the average person might look at and mouth, "What the fuck?", but it also leads to performances that strike an honest emotional note with fans who are willing to buy in and take that same journey.
Plagiarized Howard Cantour And A Whole Lot MoreLast year, LaBeouf released a short film starring Jim Gaffigan entitled Howard Cantour.com. Initially, the work was very well received with viewers praising both the former Transformers star’s direction and Gaffigan’s acting, but upon further review, more than a few similarities were noticed between Cantour and the Daniel Clowes novella Justin M. Damiano. More specifically, entire passages of dialogue were taken word-for-word without any credit given to Clowes. An explanation that seemed pretty heartfelt followed immediately afterwards, but it turns out that was also plagiarized from, of all things Yahoo Answers.
A stream of apologizes other celebrities gave after screwing up were then obsessively tweeted by LaBeouf, who then told the world he was just trying to start a conversation about plagiarism. He definitely did that, but most of the conversation wound up centering around him and not on the larger rules artists play by. Someday, LaBeouf will probably sit down and offer a very lengthy explanation of everything that happened concerning the plagiarism, but at this point, that hasn’t happened yet. So, we’re left to decide on our own whether this really was some grand sociological experiment, someone not understanding the laws of copyright or an intentional attempt to steal someone else’s hard work.
Headbutted Some Dude In A BarLast month, LaBeouf was inside a bar in London when he got into a skirmish with some random dude. Over objections from the women he was with and other bar patrons, the actor got in a sneaky little headbutt right to his foe’s head. It can be seen well enough in the grainy video embedded above, but exactly what led up to the heabutt is a but unclear. He was there alongside his Nymphomaniac co-star and girlfriend Mia Goth and her mother. The guy in the video allegedly said something off color to Mia’s mother, and that’s when LaBeouf stepped in.
It makes sense that someone would want to defend the honor of his girlfriend’s mother, but that reason doesn’t change the fact that this is still a bad situation. And it’s weird. First of all, who goes to a busy pub with their girlfriend and her mother? Second of all, who is comfortable jumping to violence in front of their girlfriend’s mother? Verbal response, sure. Violence, maybe not so much. And third of all, who instinctively jumps to the headbutt as a means to defend himself, beyond Daniel Bryan?
Wore A Bag Over His Head At The Nymphomaniac PremiereNot long after storming out of a Nymphomaniac press conference with an Eric Cantona quote, LaBeouf appeared at the film’s Berlin premiere wearing a bag over his head that read "I Am Not Famous Anymore". No doubt the writing was a reference to the actor’s earlier vow to retire from his public life, whatever the hell that means. Not surprisingly, the stunt only landed his name on the front pages again and further solidified his reputation for being a weirdo.
Wearing a paper bag over one’s head has long been considered a great way to express frustration with a situation. Fans often do it as a way of letting the players know they’re embarrassed by their play, but it’s also been done in many other venues, perhaps most notably on The Gong Show. Will we see this from him during future appearances? There’s no way to know for sure, but considering he’s taken a ton of different approaches to weirdness over the years, it’s very likely he’ll find a different way to shock next time.