The actor, whose been to rehab and back, gets real about messy arrest last summer, and the "magical" actor that changed his life.
The actor -- who is just as well known for public shenanigans as he is for his movies, at this point -- was so nervous about his Esquire cover story interview, he rehearsed the interview with his therapist for two months. When it came time to talk about the Savannah, Georgia, arrest (during which he hurled a variety of expletives at police, scolded a black office for arresting white people and bragged about his "millionaire lawyers," to name a few of the highlights), he told the journalist interviewing him, "I know this is uncomfortable for you to bring up, bro. I get it. Just get to it."
And when they did, they took a pretty deep dive, talking about the arrest, as well as how it changed his life.
"What went on in Georgia was mortifying. White privilege and desperation and disaster," LaBeouf said. "It came from a place of self-centered delusion... It was me trying to absolve myself of guilt for getting arrested." And finally, or more simply put, "I f-cked up," as the actor bluntly admitted.
But from mistakes come growth, and it seems LaBeouf has seen a lot of it since then. He's sober now, and he's grateful to one of his more recent co-stars for helping get him there. Starting there, here are # juicy gems from LaBeouf's first magazine cover story in a very long time.
One 'Magical' Actor With Down Syndrome Changed His Life for the Better
LaBeouf credits "The Peanut Butter Falcon" lead actor Zack Gottsagen for inspiring him "to be open to help when it came."
He was in Georgia shooting the buddy adventure film -- about a young man with Down Syndrome who escapes his nursing home to pursue his wrestling dreams -- when he was arrested. While the rest of the cast and crew didn't take issue with LaBeouf's behavior (at least, to his face), Gottsagen let him have it.
"You’re already famous. This is my chance. And you’re ruining it," the unknown actor told LaBeouf, who said the comment "changed the course of my life."
"'Cause I was still fighting. I was still on my 'Look how fast they released the videos! They don’t release these!' Just on my defense-mechanism-fear garbage," LaBeouf explained. "And you can’t do that to him. He keeps it one thousand with you, and that shit doesn’t even make sense to him. Zack can’t not shoot straight, and bless him for it, 'cause in that moment, I needed a straight shooter who I couldn’t argue with."
Gottsagen's effect on LaBeouf became even more powerful when he asked the Hollywood star if he believed in God. "Zack said, ‘Even if He’s not real, what does it hurt?'"
LaBeouf continued, "I don’t believe in God... But did I see God? Did I hear God? Through Zack, yeah. He met me with love, and at the time, love was truth, and he didn’t pull punches. And I’m grateful, not even on some cheeseball shit trying to sell a movie. In real life. That motherfucker is magical."
"Zack allowed me to be open to help when it came," he added.
LaBeouf Considers Himself a Buffoon
Before LaBeouf opened up about his most recent arrest, though, he reflected on his behavior, overall, and compared himself to volatile tennis legend John McEnroe. LaBeouf plays the athlete in April 13 release "Borg vs. McEnroe."
"McEnroe was a master at his rage. I’m a buffoon," LaBeouf said. "My public outbursts are failures. They’re not strategic. They’re a struggling motherfucker showing his ass in front of the world."
"I’ve got to look at my failures in the face for a while," he added. "I need to take ownership of my shit and clean up my side of the street a bit before I can go out there and work again, so I’m trying to stay creative and learn from my mistakes. I’ve been falling forward for a long time. Most of my life. The truth is, in my desperation, I lost the plot."
LaBeouf Despises Tennis, Though
Speaking of tennis, LaBeouf hates it.
"I’m a terrible used-car salesman," he said before dumping on the sport he had to learn for his most recent movie. "I have no interest in tennis. Zero. I only hate it more since having done this film. It’s an elitist sport."
The Actor Was Diagnosed With PTSD and Sleeps With a Gun
"When I got to rehab last year, they said I had PTSD," LaBeouf said, explaining it stems from a childhood moment when he witnessed his mother being raped by a man the authorities were never able to bring to justice.
The author of the profile sums up the traumatic moment as a trigger for violence, which LaBeouf supported with this story: "The first time I got arrested with a real charge, it stemmed from the same shit. Some guy bumped into my mother’s car with his car in a parking lot, and my head went right to ‘You need to avenge your mother!’ So I went after the dude with a knife."
Fortunately, he didn't use the knife -- but now he's got a gun, and sleeps with it.
"I’ve always thought somebody was coming in. My whole life," LaBeouf said.
Josh Brolin Also Traumatized LaBeouf -- But in a Good Way
LaBeouf described acting opposite Josh Brolin in "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps" as, "One of my most traumatic experiences."
Apparently Brolin gave a stronger performance than LaBeouf in the scene from the 2010 "Wall Street" sequel, and as a result, the young LaBeouf overcompensated, learning a valuable lesson which has guided his career choice of "chasing sincerity" ever since.
"Insecure actors do too much," LaBeouf said. "In that scene, I’m letting ambition get in the way of truth."
He Still Doesn't Care for 'Transformers'
"My hang-up with those films was that they felt irrelevant. They felt dated as f-ck," he said. "You come up on these stories about 'Easy Rider' and 'Raging Bull' and De Niro and Scorsese and Hopper, and you find value in what they do. Meanwhile, you’re chasing energon crystals. It’s very hard to keep doing what you’re doing when you feel like it’s the antithesis of your purpose on this planet."
He Still Loves Kanye West -- Even If the Rapper Trash Talked Him on Stage
After Kanye rapped, "I wish I dressed as fresh as Shia LaBeouf," in an outtake for "No More Parties in LA," the hip-hop star stopped by LaBeouf's house to talk fashion and left with a bunch of the actor's clothing, including his Indiana Jones hat.
"Around the same time, I took my mother to his concert. She is, of course, obsessed with Kanye West. When I brought her backstage, he was a fucking sweetheart to her," LaBeouf said. "And it just felt fair. So I’m like, 'Go for it, my guy. Take everything you want.' And he did. He took all my f-cking clothes. Me and him haven’t really been in contact since he blew up onstage and, you know, shit on me."
The dumping he's referencing occurred in November in 2016 when Kanye was having an on-stage meltdown, and said, "Shia LaBeouf: Kid Cudi feels a way. Call him." LaBeouf said he tried to reach out to Kanye for clarification on what he meant when referencing Cudi, who LaBeouf directed in a music video and short film.
"I f-cking love Kanye West. He’s going through a lot. And I don’t know where he’s at or what he’s doing," he said.
LaBeouf Wrote a Screenplay About His Relationship With His Father
LaBeouf finished writing a coming-of-age drama "Honey Boy" while in rehab. The title is a reference to his father's nickname for him, and the synopsis found on The Black List sounds very personal: "A child actor and his law-breaking, alcohol-abusing father attempt to mend their contentious relationship over the course of a decade."