Thoughts Of a Rogue A-Lister
"Transformers" star Shia LaBeouf isn't just walking away from the Hollywood studio system that raised him -- he's bolting.
I am done," says Shai LaBeouf, the 26-year-old actor, who is devoting his career to indie film and soon starts shooting Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. "There's no room for being a visionary in the studio system. It literally cannot exist," he says. "You give Terrence Malick a movie like Transformers, and he's f--ed. There's no way for him to exist in that world."
Refreshingly candid and abundantly energetic, LaBeouf was a driving force in getting Lawless made. The indie film opens in the U.S. over Labor Day weekend, just as LaBeouf goes to the Venice Film Festival for the world premiere of The Company You Keep, directed by Robert Redford. Company and LaBeouf's The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman, now in postproduction, were financed by L.A.-based Voltage Pictures. "These dudes are a miracle," he says. "They give you the money, and they trust you -- [unlike the studios, which] give you the money, then get on a plane and come to the set and stick a finger up your ass and chase you around for five months."
LaBeouf's trip to Cannes in May for Lawless was a symbolic turning point, marking his transformation from blockbuster poster boy to indie star. It also was poignant. He'd been to the festival twice before, for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, neither of which went over well. The actor "deeply regrets" his negative comments about Indiana Jones, revealing they ruptured his relationship with Steven Spielberg. "He told me there's a time to be a human being and have an opinion, and there's a time to sell cars," he recalls. "It brought me freedom, but it also killed my spirits because this was a dude I looked up to like a sensei." This time, Cannes was a different experience. Says LaBeouf: "I fought for Lawless. I didn't jump onto anyone else's coattail and ride their wave."
LaBeouf starts shooting Nymphomaniac after Venice. Von Trier intends to release two cuts, one much more sexually explicit. As to why LaBeouf took the job: "Because he's dangerous. He scares me. And I'm only going to work now when I'm terrified."