NEW YORK, N.Y. – Who can forget the time he put a paper bag on his head that read “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE”? Or when he was forced to apologize for plagiarizing parts of his short film? He then promised to retire from public life.
Now, he’s been escorted from a Broadway theatre in handcuffs for allegedly yelling obscenities during a performance of “Cabaret.” The guy who insisted he’s not famous was heard screaming, “Do you know who I am”?
Witnessing Shia LaBeouf’s recent off-screen and offstage antics is getting to be like watching a slow-moving train wreck. Has he become the male equivalent of Amanda Bynes?
“Shia LaBeouf is certainly not alone in displaying unusual behaviour and even immaturity,” said Jason Maloni, senior vice-president at Levick, a strategic communications company that guides clients through challenging media situations. “This is just the latest incident that put him crossways with an actor’s most important constituent — his fan base as well as his fellow professionals.”
Maloni added: “Bad behaviour in a public setting followed by an arrest doesn’t make for a very effective visual. Frankly, he’s been perp-walked out of Broadway, quite literally. So he’s in some distress.”
LaBeouf was watching Alan Cumming and Michele Williams in a “Cabaret” revival on Thursday night when his latest problems began. The inside of the theatre, which used to be a notorious, coke-fueled disco in the 1970s, has been reworked to look like a decadent Berlin cabaret from the 1930s, with tiny nightclub tables and a working bar.
LaBeouf, who had paid for his ticket, was seen offering a strawberry to a woman and lighting a cigarette. He was also observed slapping Cumming’s rear as the performer walked through the seats to get onstage. Cumming didn’t react.
According to the criminal complaint, a security guard saw LaBeouf stand up in the middle of Act 1 and “yell loudly at the actors onstage.” When LaBeouf was asked to leave, he refused, according to the complaint. “Do you know who the f— I am? Do you know who I am?” the actor is said to have bellowed.
He was charged with five counts of disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and harassment. His next court date is July 24. After his court appearance Friday, the 28-year-old actor, wearing a ripped blue T-shirt, walked several blocks to a hotel on West 54th Street. He declined to comment. His publicist did not return a request for comment, either.
The outburst happened only a few blocks from where LaBeouf had planned to make his Broadway debut last year in a revival of Lyle Kessler’s play “Orphans,” with Alec Baldwin. He pulled out over creative disagreements and then immediately posted private messages from the show’s actors and creative team.
Now he’s accused of disrupting fellow stage actors while they’re performing. Perhaps worse, he’s become an endless punchline. Cumming tweeted that the stage manager at “Cabaret” told the actors at the top of Act 2: “This is your places call and Shia LaBeouf has left the building in handcuffs.”
LaBeouf’s latest tantrum occurs just as the film franchise that made him a star gives birth to its fourth iteration — without him. He had been the star of the first three “Transformers” films, but a fresh start was decided best for “Age of Extinction.”
LaBeouf, whose other big films include “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,” has endeared himself as an artsy guy who can do action movies. He’s also prone to refreshing bouts of honesty, as when he admitted that his “Indiana Jones” film was bad. “I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished,” he said after it came out.
But his fan base may dissipate after more bizarre stunts that resemble the kinds of things once associated with fellow Disney alumna Bynes, who has been accused of throwing a bong out of a Manhattan window, starting a fire in a driveway, reckless driving and posting a number of disturbing tweets attacking celebrities like Rihanna and Christine Teigen.
Maloni, who has counselled artists and athletes in trouble, said he would advise LaBeouf to do the same as any of his clients: He needs a quiet period. “He needs to stop turning up on Page Six and instead he needs to turn up on the pages of the film and theatre critics of the world.”
There is always hope, Maloni said. “The wonderful benefit that a performer has is you have a tremendous ability to rebuild your reputation. One has to only look at Robert Downey Jr. … I think Shia can do the same thing.”
Associated Press writer Rachelle Blidner contributed to this report.