Enfant terrible Shia LaBeouf, hot off acclaim for his war picture “Fury,” opened up to storied film critic Elvis Mitchell about his public “existential” meltdowns, self-reinvention, the meaning of “metamodernism” and more in a recent Interview feature. Whether his public appearances of late, including the “Ellen” interview below, are part of a desperate Oscar bid is anyone’s guess: it all may be part of LaBeouf’s latest postmodern shenanigan.
But he is a talented actor — endorsed even by costar Pitt! — ready to redeem himself. So let’s dive into the five weirdest, most ridiculous (but also intriguingly candid) quotes from LaBeouf in Interview.
On “finding God” while making “Fury”: “I found God doing Fury. I became a Christian man, and not in a fucking bullshit way—in a very real way. I could have just said the prayers that were on the page. But it was a real thing that really saved me. And you can’t identify unless you’re really going through it. It’s a full-blown exchange of heart, a surrender of control.”
On the meaning behind his 2014 public embarrassments, including the funny thing that happened on the way to “Cabaret”: I’ve been going through an existential crisis. If you look at my behavior, it’s been motivated by a certain discourse. Metamodernism has influenced a lot of my action in the public in this last year and a half—the idea of diametrically opposed ideas happening all at once: the irony and the sincerity, birth and death, the immediacy and the obsolescence.
Just to clear things up, here’s his definition of metamodernism: “You have both modernist commitment and postmodern detachment—sincerity with a wink. It is all things. It’s a feeling that comes after deconstruction: the ripping apart, or the going to shit of a society, the environmental crisis, the financial crisis, the existential crisis. Metamodernism is the feeling that comes after that.”
On his life/work as a perpetual performance piece: “My work is an exploration. I don’t see a big difference between method acting and performance art. My work in my film and my work in my life have influenced who I’ve become. Life imitates art. And so a lot of my choices, these characters that I’ve been playing, have actually built a person, they’ve raised me. So I’ve just been more careful about my choices. I’ve taken control back. After calamity comes hope. And I do feel a deep hopefulness in my life and in my work. Whereas originally I was a very cynical dude, I was very postmodern.”
On the Daniel Clowes plagiarism scandal: “My apologies [for plagiarizing Daniel Clowes’s Justin M. Damiano] on Twitter were stolen from other people’s apologies as a wink, a very ironic way of apologizing. I was running with a philosophy to back the play of bad action. I took [Clowes’s] work and tried to adapt it into a film out of insecurity, a fear of my own ideas…My ideas on authorship haven’t changed—in terms of my idea that the author is dead—but what has changed is my hopefulness for what the author can become.”
For the record, Elvis Mitchell has put together a great interview. Read the rest of it here.