It’s very tempting to sensationalize the recent comments from Shia LaBeouf, who is at the Cannes Film Festival promoting Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps, and take them all out of context. If one were to do that, one would say that he says they “dropped the ball” when he, Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and that Ford “wasn’t happy with it, either” and “you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven,” who “needs to hear this.” That sounds entirely antagonistic and bitter and snippy and could paint LaBeouf as a malcontent biting the hands that feed him.
The reality, of course, is in the context, which too often people ignore. The full comments paint the picture of a thoughtful and honest young man who’s trying to remain sincere in a business that coaches you to lie. First things first, he’s the first one to take the blame for the fact that Indy 4, although financially amazing, disappointed audiences by shoving Dr. Henry Jones into the sci-fi genre. “I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished,” he said of the film, comparing it to working on the anticipated Wall Street sequel. “If I was going to do it twice, my career was over. So this was fight-or-flight for me.”
He’s also aware of why people didn’t take to it, and says it’s his own failing. “You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple. I think the audience is pretty intelligent. I think if you don’t acknowledge it, then why do they trust you the next time you’re promoting a movie?” As to Ford’s displeasure with the film, “We had major discussions. He wasn’t happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn’t universally accepted. We need to be able to satiate the appetite. I think we just misinterpreted what we were trying to satiate.”
As for taking Spielberg to task, he mitigated his honesty with graciousness, knowing these comments might not go over so well. “I’ll probably get a call,” he admits. “But he needs to hear this. I love him. I love Steven. I have a relationship with Steven that supersedes our business work. And believe me, I talk to him often enough to know that I’m not out of line. And I would never disrespect the man. I think he’s a genius, and he’s given me my whole life. He’s done so much great work that there’s no need for him to feel vulnerable about one film. But when you drop the ball you drop the ball.”
It’s easy for people to dislike LaBeouf, thinking of giant obnoxious spectacles like the Transformers movies or the disappointment of his Indy movie, but he’s not afraid to talk about anything, and he can actually do it. Just read his comments in the LA Times on what doing Wall Street taught him about the financial meltdown. The man does his homework, and he seems to know what he’s talking about.