Fast Times At Ridgemont High Writer Weighs In On Shia LaBeouf’s Viral Table Read Performance

Shia LaBeouf in The Tax Collector

With the current health crisis still lingering and a lot of folks continuing to socially distance/isolate, one event that’s been happening more often lately is the celebrity table read, i.e. famous actors virtually coming together to read the scripts of beloved movies. For example, last month saw the masses being treated to a reading of 1982’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High over Zoom, which doubled as a reunion between Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

However, when it came to stealing the show performance-wise, Shia LaBeouf arguably scored that honor thanks to the… unorthodox, yet entertaining way he played Jeff Spicoli. Cameron Crowe, who wrote Fast Times at Ridgemont High as his debut screenplay, was especially impressed with what LaBeouf did, saying the following about the Honey Boy star’s performance and the table read overall:

Wild and brave. And tore up the room, too. It just brought everybody to a place of giddiness, that made the whole thing work, for me. Though I may not ever get over Morgan Freeman reading my stage direction that I wrote when I was 22. That’s kind of like, ‘Whoo. Okay.’ It’s like Morgan Freeman reading your diary. It was thrilling and slightly scary. But it was fantastic.

While Cameron Crowe’s conversation with Variety was primarily about the 20th anniversary of Almost Famous, which he wrote and directed, naturally the Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read came up, and it sounds like the filmmaker had a blast watching it. And like a lot of people who tuned into the event in September, Crowe thought Shia LaBeouf was one of the highlights.

As a primer for those who haven’t watched the Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read, not only did Shia LaBeouf read his lines from inside his parked car, he donned neon sunglasses and a tank top, and was smoking a blunt. That set the stage for LaBeouf to deliver a much different take on Jeff Spicoli that amused his cast-mates, including the man who originally brought Spicoli to life, Sean Penn. If there’s one thing you can count on LaBeouf doing these days with his professional endeavors (and sometimes personal ones), it’s making unique creative choices. I’m just glad he didn’t end up getting more tattoos in the process.

The Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read was organized by Dane Cook to raise money for COVID-19 relief efforts. Along with Cook playing Mark “Rat” Ratner, Shia LaBeouf’s go-around as Jeff Spicoli, and Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston playing Brad Hamilton and Linda Barrett, respectively, the table read starred Sean Penn as the pizza guy, Julia Roberts as Stacy Hamilton, John Legend as Charles Jefferson, Ray Liotta as Mr. Hand, Henry Golding as Mr. Vargas, Matthew McConaughey as Mike Damone, Jimmy Kimmel as various minor roles and Morgan Freeman as the narrator.

As far as the original Fast Times at Ridgemont High goes, not only did it put Cameron Crowe on the Hollywood map, it also served as Amy Heckerling’s first time directing a feature film, and she went on to helm National Lampoon’s European Vacation, Clueless and more. Sean Penn also wasn’t the only young actor who appeared in Fast Times at Ridgemont and went on to become a star, with others including Nicolas Cage, Forest Whitaker, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Eric Stoltz.

Keep checking back with CinemaBlend for all the latest updates on the movies news front, and look through our 2021 release schedule to learn what’s slated to play on big screens next year.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.