Shia LaBeouf's new Variety cover story is pegged to his upcoming movie American Honey, but the interview it goes all over the place. Amid discussion of his 2014 outburst and arrest at a Broadway performance of Cabaret, LaBeouf says he now attends Alcoholics Anonymous and hasn't had a drink in nearly a year (he rejects the label "addict," however).
“You don’t touch it. Alcohol or any of that shit will send you haywire," he says. "I can’t fuck with none of it. I’ve got to keep my head low.” Elsewhere he adds, “I got a Napoleonic complex. I start drinking and I feel smaller than I am, and I get louder than I should. It’s just not for me, dude.”
Read on for more golden Shia nuggets.
The piece spends time considering the dynamics of Oscar-winning director Andrea Arnold's $3.5 million shoot for American Honey, which included a seven-week road trip. The cast "bonded hard," LaBeouf said, including tattoo parlor visits together. The 30-year-old got 12 new pieces during the filming, most notably a pair of matching Missy Elliott tattoos on his knees. “I don’t love Missy Elliott like I wanna get two Missy Elliott tattoos,” he tells the magazine. “But you’re in a tattoo parlor, and [shrugs] peer pressure.”
Shia says of his childhood with his single mother in L.A.'s Echo Park, “We didn’t have nothing. So I would steal Pokémon video games and Tamagotchis.” Once Even Stevens got popping, he lived in a hotel with his dad. “There were drugs everywhere—marijuana, cocaine, heroin. [My father] gave me my first joint when I was probably 11 or 12.”
LaBeouf was in the mix for Suicide Squad in the early days, when David Ayer, his Fury director, approached him to play Lieutenant GQ Edwards. Scott Eastwood ended up with the role. “I don’t think Warner Bros. wanted me," Shia says. "I went in to meet, and they were like, ‘Nah, you’re crazy. You’re a good actor, but not this one.’ It was a big investment for them.”
(He also says "Will [Smith] came in, and the script changed a bit. [Edwards] and [Joel Kinnaman's Rick Flag] got written down to build Will up.”)
“I don’t think I’d be working with the directors I’ve been working with if I had not fucked up a bit. They wanted a fucking fireball. They wanted a loose cannon. I’m learning how to distill my ‘crazy’ into something manageable, that I can shape and deliver on the day. [Before], I was an open wound bleeding on everything.”
Shia admits that if he were a woman, his antics would have torpedoed his career. “It’s a double standard, for sure. Women require grace for longevity. I don’t think men require grace. You can be Mickey Rourke.”
He also thinks the idea of Method acting is gendered and dumb. “The word is getting embarrassing. You don’t hear about female Method actors. The whole thing has turned into weird, false masculinity shit.”
And he'd work with the Transformers madman again:
“Mike is an artist. People don’t realize how dope that dude is. He’s got to get a little ballsier with his moves—he’s trying to toe the line and be James Cameron, but James Camerons are dying. I don’t know what he’s chasing, but that version of director is dead. If Mike is to sustain, he’s got to get fucking weird.”
Shia's early movies, stuff like Disturbia and Eagle Eye, came in partnership with producer-mode Steven Spielberg via DreamWorks. It all built to 2008's Spielz-directed Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, a movie that's led to years of shade from Shia. “I don’t like the movies that I made with Spielberg,” he reiterates in Variety. “The only movie that I liked that we made together was Transformers one.”
He goes into depth on the suckiness of it all, too:
“I grew up with this idea, if you got to Spielberg, that’s where it is. I’m not talking about fame, and I’m not talking about money. ... You get there, and you realize you’re not meeting the Spielberg you dream of. You’re meeting a different Spielberg, who is in a different stage in his career. He’s less a director than he is a fucking company."
“Spielberg’s sets are very different. Everything has been so meticulously planned. You got to get this line out in 37 seconds. You do that for five years, you start to feel like not knowing what you’re doing for a living.”