The 26-year-old Transformers star has thrown as many punches as he has parties, he has a rap sheet as long as his filmography, and when he’s not pissing off studio heads, he’s messing around with another guy’s girlfriend. But Shia LaBeouf may also be the most honest—and complex—actor/film director/musician alive. More than meets the eye? Damn right.
The many faces of Shia LaBeouf
Shia LaBeouf , born June 11, 1986, is an American actor who became known among younger audiences as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. LaBeouf received a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001 and won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003 for his role. He made his film debut in Holes (2003), based on the novel of the same name by Louis Sachar. In 2004, he made his directorial debut with the short film Let’s Love Hate and later directed and shot the music video for “I Never Knew You” by rapper Cage.
In 2007, LaBeouf starred in the lead role of the commercially successful films, Disturbia, and Surf’s Up. The same year he was cast in Michael Bay‘s science fiction film Transformers as Sam Witwicky, the main protagonist of the series. Despite mixed reviews, Transformers was a box office success and one of the highest grossing films of 2007. LaBeouf later appeared in it sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009) and Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011), both also a box office success. In 2008, he played Henry “Mutt Williams” Jones III in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, the fourth film in the Indiana Jones franchise. The film was a critical and commercial success.
His other films include Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), Lawless (2012), The Company You Keep (2012) and Nymphomaniac (2013).
He directed the music video for “I Never Knew You”, a single off rapper Cage‘s third album, Depart From Me. It was shot in LA and features cameos by other Definitive Jux artists.The two will also team up to make a biopic about the rapper’s life, starring LaBeouf. Of making the video, LaBeouf said, “I’m 22 and I’m directing my favorite rapper’s music video. This shit is better than riding unicorns.” In addition to directing the short film, MANIAC for Kid Cudi and Cage’s collaborative track he also directed and filmed Kid Cudi’s music video for “Marijuana” at the 2010 Cannabis Cup.
The now 26-year-old actor was to star opposite Alec Baldwin and Tom Sturridge in the revival of Lyle Kessler‘s 1983 play, which follows two orphaned brothers living off the proceeds of petty theft in a run-down North Philadelphia row house. LaBeouf’s role was the elder brother who supports his simple-minded younger sibling (Sturridge). One night he kidnaps an enigmatic rich man, played by Baldwin, who becomes the kind of father figure the boys have always longed for.
Weeks before previews were to begin, Shia LaBeouf dropped out of his planned Broadway debut in the play Orphans because of “creative differences.”
“I’m done,” he vented to The Hollywood Reporter last summer. “There’s no room for being a visionary in the studio system. It literally cannot exist. You give Terrence Malick a movie like Transformers, and he’s f—ed. There’s no way for him to exist in that world.”
His recent film credits include Lawless, the Robert Redford-directed The Company You Keep, and The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, in which he stars opposite Evan Rachel Wood and Melissa Leo. He also has a racy role in Lars von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac, co-starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgard.
Meet Music’s Next Superstar: Shia LaBeouf
Last week, actor and LSD-enthusiast Shia LaBeouf and synth-pop duo Future Unlimited debuted the gloomy video for “Haunted Love” directed by none other than everyone’s favorite Michael Bay leading man. LaBeouf has had many an odd foray into music video. From a thirty-minute musical of interpretive dancing to sad Icelandic piano music, let’s look back at some LaBeouf deep cuts and no longer regret that his film Disturbia and Rihanna’s song of the same name were not related.
“Influenza: The Musical”
In 2002, Even Stevens did what has since become commonplace on almost every Disney series nowadays — they had the cast flex their vocal skills and participate in a musical episode. In “Influenza: The Musical,” Ren (Christy Carlson Romano) has a flu-fueled hallucination. Shia’s character Louis, the troublemaking younger brother, attempts to avoid then subsequently sings about an over-the-top physical endurance test in gym class. With his raspy pre-pubescent voice, baby Shia graces our ears with classics like “I Always Find a Way” and “I’ve Got Hot Soup…” as he begins taking his first steps into low-key involvement with the music world.
“Another Perfect Day”
Getting a little Partridge, Louis and Ren join some friends to form the the Twitty-Stevens Connection a few episodes after they just couldn’t stop breaking out in song. This time, Shia’s Louis is a drummer who encourages the band to play on the school’s roof. Shenanigans ensue and it ends with this stereotypically Disney tune and its feel-good message.
“Dig It” by The D-Tent Boys
Oh, you thought he could only kind of sing? Enter #RAPGAMELABEOUF in a film based off every ten-year-old’s favorite fifth grade reading assignment, Holes. Having started being typecast as a good guy caught in bad situations early, Shia takes on the role of Stanley Yelnats, who finds himself in a juvenile detention camp run by Warrant Officer Ripley and Angelina Jolie’s dad, who make Stanley and the other boys dig holes every day. A bunch of other Important Things occur in both the film and book, but the most important takeaway is that Holes brought us #RAPGAMELABEOUF, and for that we’re all pretty lucky.
“The Best Look in the World”
In 2007, Shia began making his real career breakthrough as a non-child actor with starring roles in blockbusters Transformers and Disturbia after paying some acting dues in small but critically acclaimed indie flicks. Naturally, this meant he’d get a chance to host an episode of Saturday Night Live, as many an upcoming “it” star has done. Over the course of 13 months, Shia hosted not one but two episodes of the series and participated in some of the early digital shorts Andy Samberg helped create and make popular. During his second hosting gig in 2008, Shia helped sing and perform an ode to white shirt-black socks-no pants look, otherwise known as “The Best Look in the World.” It also marks the first time he let his junk air out in a video. We’ll get to the second time in a few.
“I Never Knew You”
Shia’s contributions to the music industry go above and beyond kind of singing and kind of rapping. Actually, his directorial work has probably been some of the more shining moments in his career. Shia marked his debut as a music video director with the clip for friend Cage’s “I Never Knew You.” The clip features Dan Byrd (Easy A) stalking a woman between clips of Cage’s highly emotive and body-jerking performance. While the video is as twisted and dark as Cage’s brand of hip-hop, it feels lighter than some of Shia’s later creations.
Starring Kid Cudi and Cage
In what may be the actor/director’s Career Highlight, Shia based a short film off of the song collaboration between Kid Cudi and Cage, “Maniac.” It features the rappers speaking French and doing some gruesome things as they play two serial killers being willingly followed by a documentary film crew. It’s got the same biting snark and gore of early Tarantino films, and like Tarantino, LaBeouf steps on camera for only a minute to take a small and grotesquely memorable role.
Shia also directed the “Marijuana” video for Cudi and the final product looks like a test of every Instagram filter. It’s a simple video featuring Cudi smoking a lot of weed at Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam (way to think outside the box, LaBeouf). Dig beneath the surface of both song and video, though, and you’ll see Cudi is actually no longer saving the last dance for Mary Jane and brought an enthusiastic Shia along to document it.
Last year, atmospheric and always ~2 artsy 4 u~ Icelandic band Sigur Rós released a 16 video series that accompanied their album Valtari. This time, rather than directing the music video, Shia starred in the Alma Har’el clip for “Fjögur Píanó” alongside Denna Thomsen as a tormented couple. There’s interpretive dancing, cross-dressing, nudity, and lots of butterflies. Though it feels like an inaccessible artistic exploration at first, the video has an oddly compelling tone and Shia is captivating when scored by the piano-driven track.
The aforementioned video that made us think back on all Shia’s strange and varied history with music is for Future Unlimited, a duo from Nashville. There are quite a few things happening in the video and all of them are terrifying. Starring LaBeouf’s current girlfriend and Nymphomaniac castmate Mia Goth, “Haunted Love” scores a Southern gothic nightmare involving a baby on fire, poison, one-armed interpretive dancing (looks like he became inspired after his project with Sigur), and a ridiculous amount of blood. We told you “I Never Knew You” was the tip of an iceberg of horror and this is proven not even a minute into the video.
“Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf”
Shia did not direct the video for or write this song. Rob Cantor of Tally Hall blessed Tumblr users everywhere by creating the most inescapable meme on the blog last year. “Actual Cannibal Shia LaBeouf” details an encounter with a flesh-eating Shia and doesn’t seem like a departure from the actor/director/singer/#rapgamechanger’s current visual trajectory in music. Beyond that, the track may be the most ridiculous Shia related moment since Indiana Jones 4. (OH SNAP)
Awards and nominations
Sources: Alternative Press, Google, Village Voice, Wikipedia, YouTube