Shia LaBeouf has entered a weird stage of his career. He used to be a lovable kid actor, then he graduated to the kind of “you’re going to be a star no matter what” roles that Chris Pratt gets these days, and then he flared out and became a fun trainwreck, but at some point after that he started steering into the skid by turning everything he did into a purposefully weird or off-putting performance art piece—better known as the “I’m Still Here.” Unlike Joaquin Phoenix, though, LaBeouf really stuck with the persona, which allowing the public to become more or less desensitized. Now he’s not the kid from Even Stevens doing bad stuff, he’s just Shia LaBeouf being Shia LaBeouf.
For people who haven’t quite embraced the new LaBeouf yet, Variety has an extensive interview with him in which he sort of lays out his new ethos. For starters, he doesn’t drink anymore, explaining that “alcohol or any of that shit will send you haywire” and that he “can’t fuck with none of it.” As longtime LaBeouf fans may recall, he was arrested back in 2014 while causing what Variety calls a “ruckus” during a production of Cabaret. He later blamed the incident on a sudden taste for whiskey.
Thankfully, even though he’s no longer drinking, LaBeouf still has an urge to do crazy stuff that frustrates the people around him. Apparently, he got a total of 12 tattoos while filming Andrea Arnold’s American Honey, including a pair of Missy Elliott portraits on his knees. As for why he did that, he explains that it’s not that he loves Missy Elliott so much that he wanted two tattoos of her face, it’s just that he happened to be in a tattoo parlor one day and succumbed to a little thing called “peer pressure.” That’s the new LaBeouf in a nutshell: He still makes questionable decisions, but now he’s only impacting himself and not the poor people onstage performing Cabaret.
Variety also took the opportunity to ask LaBeouf about his old blockbuster days, and much like Stanley Tucci, it seems as if LaBeouf doesn’t hate Michael Bay as much as some people probably hope that he would. In fact, LaBeouf—who starred in the first three Transformers movies—says “people don’t realize how dope [Michael Bay] is” and adds that he’d be open to working with him again, provided that he’s willing to outlive the “James Camerons” and “get fucking weird.” Meanwhile, LaBeouf doesn’t have much good stuff to say about working with Steven Spielberg, who he describes as “less a director than he is a fucking company.” He even says that the only movie he likes that he made with Spielberg is the first Transformers, which Spielberg produced.
In one last tidbit of fun LaBeouf news, he says he was originally set to appear in Suicide Squad, with director David Ayer initially wanting him for the role that eventually went to Scott Eastwood. He says the character changed a lot when Will Smith came on board and everything became tailored to him, but even then LaBeouf says Warner Bros. refused to meet with him for the part because of his “crazy” reputation. LaBeouf might not have made the movie any better, but he probably would’ve done some weird promotional interviews for it, at least.