Shia LaBeouf, the young star of the Transformers franchise, starred in $3 billion dollars’ worth of box office blockbusters before he was even 25 years old. Yet the former child star with the fun name has had a career plagued with legal problems, substance abuse, and all other manner of oddities. Even as the young star has become less visible in terms of his film work, he still maintains a very active, and sometimes shocking, media presence. What is Shia LaBeouf’s story?
Unlike many Hollywood types, Shia LaBeouf’s family struggled financially throughout much of his childhood. Despite his neighborhood being rife with crime and destitution, LaBeouf found a way to attend a performing arts school from a young age. Working as a stand-up comedian before he was ten, he served as his own manager, and found an agent in the yellow pages. As a child actor, LaBeouf took parts in made-for-TV movies and one shot roles on quasi-popular shows like Caroline in the City, Suddenly Susan, ER, The X-Files, Freaks and Geeks, and Touched by an Angel. His big break came in 2000 with a starring role on the Disney original series Even Stevens. LaBeouf played the wild, prank-playing, little brother to Christy Carlson Romano’s straight-laced overachiever. The Odd Couple reminiscent show became massively popular and ran for several years. During the program’s final year, LaBeouf won an Emmy for his performance. The show would continue to air in syndication for many years, but LaBeouf moved on to bigger and better things.
In 2003, LaBeouf found his first starring film role in Disney’s Holes, based on a story from the author of the Wayside School series of children’s books. Appearing alongside Sigourney Weaver, Jon Voight, and Henry Winkler, LaBeouf played Stanley Yelnats, a boy falsely convicted of shoplifting who is sent to a remote juvenile detention facility as punishment. There, the inmates are forced to work digging holes for the corrupt warden and her staff, who are secretly searching for a long-lost buried treasure. The film was wildly successful with kids and families, and it catapulted LaBeouf further into the public eye before his 18th birthday. LaBeouf would then take up supporting roles in a handful of major films: I, Robot, with Will Smith, Constantine, with Keanu Reeves, and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, with Robert Downey Jr.
LaBeouf came into his own as a film lead in 2007’s Disturbia, a dark suburban mystery. In Disturbia, LaBeouf played a temperamental high school student sentenced to house arrest after assaulting a cruel teacher at his school. Cribbing heavily from the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window, LaBeouf’s character begins spying on the neighborhood only to seemingly discover a serial killer living next door. The film was a financial success and also swept the Teen Choice Awards that year, with LaBeouf’s performance praised in particular. After voicing a character in the animated film, Surf’s Up, LaBeouf would go on to his most famous role in the Transformers franchise.
Michael Bay’s Transformer series took the old toy line of cartoon fame and transformed them into big budget, computer-generated, live-action robots. LaBeouf starred as Sam Witwicky, a teenage boy who is, at first, the only human that the Autobots (the good guys) can trust in their war against the Decepticons (not so good guys). The Autobots and Decepticons are robots from a distant planet blessed with the ability to change shape, and, in the hands of Bay and LaBeouf, they made blockbuster entertainment. The four Transformers films have grossed almost $4 billion dollars total, and more films are planned. LaBeouf starred in the first three Transformers movies, but his Autobot-loving character was not even mentioned in the fourth, Age of Extinction. When the Age of Extinction star, Mark Wahlberg, was asked what happened to Sam Witwicky, the star joked that Sam was killed off-screen by a tornado. Unfortunately, the truth is much darker.
For many years now, Shia LaBeouf has struggled with the whirlwind of drugs, criminality, and his own inner demons. In 2005, LaBeouf was involved in a road rage incident resulting in a charge of “Assault with a Deadly Weapon.” The actor was able to avoid prison time for the charge. LaBeouf was then found wandering around a Walgreens in Chicago in 2007, creating undisclosed problems for the store’s employees. After refusing to leave, LaBeouf was again arrested. The next year, Shia LaBeouf was involved in an additional car-related incident, this one resulting in a DUI charge and a severe injury to LaBeouf’s hand. Since then the young star has been in a series of incidents involving strange, disorderly conduct in public places, including a disturbing public incident at Studio 54 during a performance of the music Cabaret. After the incident, Shia LaBeouf announced that he would begin receiving treatment for addiction, in an attempt to salvage his life.
What’s Shia LaBeouf Doing Now in 2023 – Recent Updates
In 2019, LaBeouf starred in the drama film Honey Boy, which he had also written. Interestingly enough, the script was originally created as a form of therapy while he was in rehab. Based loosely on his childhood, it also starred FKA Twigs, Noah Jupe, and Lucas Hedges. Premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, the film received positive reviews from critics, who praised LaBeouf’s acting.
That same year, he starred in the comedy-drama film The Peanut Butter Falcon, which follows the life of Zak, a young man with Down syndrome. While Zack Gottsagen played the role of Zak, LaBeouf portrayed the part of Tyler, a man who befriends and eventually embarks on a journey with Zak. Other cast members include Dakota Johnson and John Hawkes.
Then in 2020, he starred in the films The Tax Collector and Pieces of a Woman. The former is an action thriller while the latter is a drama film, which focuses on a young family. Not only was his performance praised in Pieces of a Woman, alongside the other actors, but the film also earned several accolades including an Academy Award, Golden Globe, Critics’ Choice, SAG, and BAFTA nomination.
That same year, he began dating actress Margaret Qualley, whom he met while filming Rainey Qualley’s music video “Love Me Like You Hate Me.” It was later announced that they had broken up in January 2021.
Shortly afterward, LaBeouf appeared in the 2021 documentary A Man Named Scott, which centers around actor and musician Kid Cudi. From there, he starred in the Italian-German drama film Padre Pio. Released on September 2, 2022, it received a four-minute ovation at the Venice International Film Festival. LaBeouf later revealed in an interview that he converted to Catholicism after studying for the film’s titular role.
In terms of upcoming projects, he will be starring in the epic film Megalopolis alongside Adam Driver, Nathalie Emmanuel, Forest Whitaker, Laurence Fishburne, Jon Voight, and several others. Directed and written by Francis Ford Coppola, the film is currently filming and is scheduled to be released in 2024.
For those who’d like to know what else the actor is up to, you can follow him on social media. He has an active Instagram account (@labeoufronkkoturner) with over 111K followers and also tweets every now and then on Twitter under the handle @thecampaignbook.