Shia LaBeouf is in the spotlight again after he was arrested early Thursday in New York City following an alleged altercation at the site of his art-installation protest piece. The actor is accused of attacking a 25-year-old man outside the Museum of the Moving Image, and was charged with misdemeanor assault and a harassment violation. The 30-year-old actor was released hours later and and promptly returned to the protest site.
The art installation — titled “He Will Not Divide Us” and set to run 24 hours a day over the next four years — features participants being encouraged to chant that phrase.
It’s just the latest in a series of headline-making moments for the controversial actor.
Last October, LaBeouf made headlines for reportedly marrying girlfriend Mia Goth in a ceremony presided over by an Elvis impersonator. Though it was later reported that the event was just a “commitment ceremony,” nothing about this is surprising. In fact, it would have been more surprising for LaBeouf to have a simple City Hall ceremony attended by friends and family, given his track record.
Hitchhiking Across the Country
In May 2016, LaBeouf and frequent collaborators Rönkkö and Turner (aided by Vice) spent 30 days trekking across the United States with only the good graces of fans and strangers to help them get from point A to point B. The project was commissioned by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art as part of The Finnish Institute in London and MediaLive 2016, as well as Vice and Frame Contemporary Art Finland.
Answering Interview Questions in Verse
Talking about Alma Har’el’s documentary LoveTrue with Complex in April 2016, LaBeouf turned to that most noble of art forms, poetry, to express his thoughts on the subjects of the documentary, people asked about their experiences with “true love.”
“we’re all cut from the same cloth
I’ve been watching them from afar
for a few years now
it’s been quite powerful
Both w/ distance
& to be in the presence of
These people are magical
And extraordinarily strong
It is humbling.
Locking Himself in an Elevator
Again with Rönkkö and Turner, LaBeouf performed a project called #ELEVATE in February last year, in which the three spent 24 hours inside an elevator in Oxford, England. Fans were invited to join. LaBeouf addressed Tinder, shared his favorite song with a group of fans and naturally, took plenty of selfies.
Live-Binging His Own Movies
In November 2015, LaBeouf participated in/created another multimedia livestream project, this one titled #ALLMYMOVIES, in which he watched all 27 of his feature films, in reverse chronological order, in New York City’s Angelika Film Center. He took five-minute breaks in between films, but otherwise did not leave the theater.
Writing an Essay About His Arrest Record
For the book Prison Ramen — which also includes arrest-themed essays from celebrities like Taryn Manning, Slash and Danny Trejo — LaBeouf contributed an essay called “Error Breeds Sense” that recalled his many brushes with the law. Among the insights presented: His fourth arrest, after refusing to leave a Walgreen’s in Chicago, resulted in “the best sleep ever” “for some reason” when he spent the night in jail. Ironically, prior to the book’s release, he was arrested for public intoxication in Austin, Texas.
That Motivational Video
In June 2015, LaBoeuf recorded a series of 36 videos in conjunction with with students from U.K.’s Central Saint Martins fine art B.A. degree show (as well as Turner and Rönkkö). In the clips, the actor read text the students had submitted in front of a green screen that could eventually be changed to whatever the students liked. While students had LaBeouf recite everything from a Charles Bukowski poem to the mantra “om,” the one that really stuck out was of the actor simply screaming a series of motivational phrases, e.g. “Don’t let your dreams be dreams” and “Yesterday, you said tomorrow. So just do it. Make your dreams come true. Just do it.”
That ‘Enslaved’ Quote
In an April 2015 interview with Variety, LaBeouf expounded on his views of art, which included the somewhat unfortunately phrased line, “The requirements to being a star/celebrity are namely, you must become an enslaved body.” He described the concept of stardom as “outmoded” and expressed his preference for performance art rather than acting.
The ‘Elastic Heart’ Video
Sia enlisted LaBeouf to dance alongside her longtime stand-in Maddie Ziegler in the video for “Elastic Heart.” Some people were perturbed by the choice to show the actor partially clothed with the much, much younger Ziegler, and Sia apologized, saying, “Maddie are Shia are the only actors I felt could play these two warring ‘sia’ self states.”
The Cabaret Arrest
In June 2014, LaBeouf was arrested at Studio 54 in Manhattan after interrupting a performance of the Broadway show Cabaret, having an intoxicated brawl with a homeless person and disrupting patrons of various bars and restaurants in the Midtown area. He later apologized for the incident on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, saying he went through an “existential crisis” in 2014 that resulted in “some hiccups, some judgement errors.”
The Paper Bag Red Carpet Walk
LaBeouf attended the premiere for the film Nymphomaniac in February 2014 wearing a paper bag painted with the phrase “I am not famous anymore” over his head. Asked a question about the film, LaBoeuf responded “When the seagulls follow the trawler, it’s because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea,” before getting up and leaving the cast panel. (The quote was lifted from an interview given by Manchester United striker Eric Cantona in 1995.)
In February 2014, LaBeouf created an art exhibit in L.A.’s Cohen Gallery entitled #IAMSORRY. A riff on the early works of performance artist Marina Abramović, the exhibit saw LaBeouf seated silently in an empty room with an assortment of props like whips, candies and instruments. Visitors were allowed to enter the room one at a time. Perhaps most disturbingly, in November 2014, he later claimed he was raped during the exhibit. “One woman who came with her boyfriend, who was outside the door when this happened, whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then stripped my clothing and proceeded to rape me,” he wrote in an email interview.
The Skywriting Apology
In January 2014, LaBeouf was embroiled in a controversy wherein he was accused of copying graphic novelist Daniel Clowes’ work. He apologized via skywriting, hiring a plane to write “I am sorry Daniel Clowes” across the skies of L.A.
The Broadway Dropout
In what could have been considered the beginning of the actor’s “troubled” period, LaBeouf dropped out of a 2013 revival of the play Orphans on Broadway alongside Alec Baldwin. He cited differences with the show’s director, Daniel Sullivan, as part of his actions, and later made a series of public apologies, many of which were plagiarized from the work of others.