Actor Shia Labeouf has developed a reputation for both being a bit of a loose cannon and for outrageous performance art activities that leave fans scratching their heads and others confused … but undeniably intrigued. He’s certainly come a long way since Even Stevens.
The actor’s career has been all over the map since he received awards for his work on the TV show. His big breakthrough was the unexpected hit Disturbia, followed by a big box office hit as the lead in Transformers. LaBeouf rode the Transformers roller coaster and got a few more movies under his belt, both hits, and misses. His turn as the long lost son of Indiana Jones didn’t do much for fans, and the reviews of Lawless, Nymphomaniac, and the Wall Street sequel Money Never Sleeps were decidedly mixed. The Brad Pitt-led ensemble cast war movie Fury did better, and it looked like LaBeouf would rebound.
It was during production and marketing for Fury that LaBeouf’s penchant for deep method acting and performance art began to surface. In the film, he played a deeply religious fundamental Christian, which led LaBeouf to profess in some public forums, that he had turned to that faith, a story that Christian websites picked up and ran with.
Even as that narrative was being debunked, LaBeouf began a series of performance art pieces that most found inscrutable, and many found disturbing. It was during one of these acts that the altercation happened which resulted in the actor being arrested for real.
It was President Trump’s first day in office, and there was LaBeouf, shouting into a camera: “He will not divide us!”
Reports of the altercation differ, but most report that LaBeouf snatched the scarf off a young man near the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens. He allegedly shoved the man, and the pair scuffled. It wasn’t the first time this particular piece of performance art got physical. Reports state he had previously bumped into people and shouted at others.
This most recent scuffle was the only time the physical altercations resulted in an arrest. The other man went free after refusing medical care, and LaBeouf left in handcuffs, led away by police.
Ever since he started this series of performance art programs, LaBeouf has become a bit of a lightning rod for people going after “crazy Hollywood types” as well as a poster boy for defending art, no matter if nobody really understands it.
How this latest incident will play out is anyone’s guess at this point. The only thing certain at this point: LaBeouf was back near the museum and in front of the camera early the next morning after his arrest, once more shouting about unity.
David Milberg is a financial analyst in New York.