Amid the war of borrowed words between Shia LaBeouf and his former, would-be Broadway co-star Alec Baldwin, one quote stood out in particular—in that it wasn’t lifted wholesale from an old Esquire article, but was rather a slightly nobler conflation of sentiments expressed by the likes of David Mamet and Constantin Stanislavski. “The theater belongs not to the great but to the brash,” LaBeouf wrote of this proud artform he’d owned for the better part of a week. “Acting is not for gentlemen, or bureaucratic-academics. What they do is anti-art.”
Surprisingly, when confronted with the tweet by Vulture and asked for comment, Baldwin didn’t fall into silent contemplation, pondering the insights of his acting junior, then thank him aloud for bringing a fresh young perspective to a mindset blinkered by years of experience. Instead, he actually seemed kind of dismissive of it:
"I can tell you that, in all honesty, I don’t think he’s in a good position to be giving interpretations of what the theater is and what the theater isn’t. I mean, he was never in the theater. He came into a rehearsal room for six or seven days and, uh — you know, sometimes film actors — I mean, there are people who are film actors who have a great legacy in the theater. Some of the greatest movie stars had really serious theater careers and still do. And many film actors, though, who are purely film actors, they’re kind of like celebrity chefs, you know what I mean? You hand them the ingredients, and they whip it up, and they cook it, and they put it on a plate, and they want a round of applause.
In the theater, we don’t just cook the food and serve it. You go out in the garden and you plant the seeds and you grow it. You know, it’s a really very, very long, slow, deliberate — it’s the opposite of film acting. It’s a much more intensive and kind of thoughtful process. And there are people who that’s just not their thing. So for those people who I think it’s not their thing, I’m not really interested in their opinion of it. But thanks."
Hoping to keep the conversation going, so that perhaps we can all reach an agreement on what the theater is and how we should talk about it endlessly, The A.V. Club reached out to LaBeouf for comment. Here's his exclusive, totally original reply:
Dear Reader’s Digest’s Life In These United States, My husband, a bigtime sports fan, was watching a football game with our grandchildren. He had just turned 75 and was feeling a little wistful. "You know," he said to our grandson, Nick, "It's not easy getting old. I guess I'm in the fourth quarter now." "Don't worry, Grandpa," Nick said cheerily. "Maybe you'll go into overtime."