Where do we begin with Shia LaBeouf? If you haven’t been following the actor’s journey over the last couple of years, then it’s safe to say that you might have missed out on a lot of strange developments. But only amidst the strange and the wild do you find truly fascinating individuals. 

Many people would recognize Shia as a delightful child actor, wowing us with his charms and smarts in the likes of Holes and Even Stevens. Then he promptly made the jump from Disney Channel material to Hollywood franchise blockbusters, such as leading roles in the Transformers series and Indiana Jones. He was promised to be the next dashing, A-list actor; everything was in order for him to take the mantle and rule over our hearts. 

But somewhere down the line, it all fell apart. It’d have been easy enough to attribute it to one obvious factor, such as drugs or alcohol, but it was a much more gradual, unorthodox downfall.

In fact, when you truly examine the details of how his career has evolved in the last few years, you might not even see it as a downfall at all. But for all the crazy incidents and outbursts, the man’s also been able to emerge from the shambles to create a life for himself that’s as pure and wonderful as anyone else’s. 

He declared that he was retiring from public life after getting busted for plagiarizing 

As mentioned earlier, like many other former child actors, Shia has had his own share of legal troubles. The actor was first arrested in 2005 for yielding a deadly weapon in a confrontation with his neighbor. Unfortunately, that was the first of many arrests for the actor.

His alcoholism led to a trespassing arrest in 2007, a misdemeanor DUI the following year, a disorderly conduct charge in 2014, and a monumental arrest in 2017 that seemingly changed his life. 

But before we delve into those public breakdowns, we must first tackle the incident that really looks to be the tipping point in hindsight. In December 2013, Shia released a short film on the internet called HowardCantour.com that he directed himself.

He’d always shared a love for film-making, which continues till date. However, shortly after the film’s release, the internet figured out that large chunks of the film were completely plagiarized from a comic created by artist Dan Clowes in 2007.

Shia wasn’t just inspired by Clowes’ work; he was accused of ripping off the story word-by-word, leaving no doubt in peoples’ minds that Shia was a fraudster in many ways. 

The actor confessed to the plagiarism on social media but the damage had already been done. Shia’s apologies were simultaneously not enough and overboard. An outlet accused him of copying one of his apologies from a Yahoo Answers posts. And in another instance, he got a skywriting plane to write his apology on the Los Angeles skies. 

Hollywood has proved that it can handle celebrities lashing out by means of alcohol-related arrests and bust-ups with fellow actors but being a so-called ‘cheat’ and ‘desperate weirdo’ almost immediately landed a heavy blow to Shia’s career. He was even served with a cease-and-desist letter from Clowes.

On January 10, 2014, Shia tweeted, “In light of the recent attacks against my artistic integrity, I am retiring from all public life. My love goes out to those who have supported me.”

A month later, the actor showed up a red carpet event, wearing a paper bag over his head that read “I am not famous anymore.” 

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He is both a witness and survivor of sexual assault 

The paper bag incident was later revealed to be a performance art project called #IAMSORRY; the project involved members of the public lining up to meet and greet the actor as he wore the paper bag.

Shia also revealed that a woman had begun to sexually assault him during one of these events. She was stopped and taken away, but the assault caused unspoken trauma for the actor, especially as the story spread like wildfire among his inner circle. 

Additionally, painful revelations about Shia’s childhood came to light after he was arrested and sent to mandatory rehab a couple of years back in 2017.

He was arrested for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct, and obstruction in Savannah, Georgia. But that wasn’t all — gossip publication TMZ secured bodycam footage that depicted Shia hurling out a provocative, obscene and racially-charged tirade towards the arresting officers.

Things turned from bad to worse for the actor, and he was given probation for one year and was sent to a rehabilitation facility to manage his anger management and substance abuse issues. 

I just looked at capitalism as the reason my family didn’t work out and the reason their marriage failed. I looked at it as an economic thing. They loved each other deeply, and all of their fighting came from money, and so I just thought, ‘Well, if we had money, there’d be no fighting and I’d have a family. This is what created this hustle in me.

Shia LaBeouf to Hollywood Reporter

That may have been his lowest point but it was a major wake-up call for the actor. He subsequently learned some key lessons about himself and his behavior during rehab. 

When Shia was a child, he overheard his mother getting raped by a man. He has to listen to his mom describe horrid details of the rape in a sheriff’s office, an experience that plagued him for a very long time. It paved the way for massive anger-related offenses to substance abuse issues on his part, ranging from picking fights in schools to knocking out Tom Hardy in a movie set. 

Shia revealed he was diagnosed with PTSD as soon as he arrived in the facility. His time there allowed him to get in touch with himself and realize that not all hope was lost for himself or his family. It wasn’t just possible to find himself again and turn his life around; he could finally begin to understand himself as a product of his upbringing and circumstances. 

I’ve got to look at my failures in the face for a while. I need to take ownership and clean up my side of the street a bit before I can go out there and work again, so I’m trying to stay creative and learn from my mistakes. I’ve been falling forward for a long time. Most of my life. The truth is, in my desperation, I lost the plot.

Shia LaBeouf to Esquire

His rehab treatment helped him become his most creative, honest self

Witnessed his mother’s rape made Shia incredibly protective and trigger-ready when it came to confrontations but his fraught relationship with his alcohol-abusing, heroin-addicted father may have played a part in his addictions too. 

But there always comes a point in a person’s life when they have to decide whether or not they’re going to continue letting their trauma define and affect every single aspect of their behavior. The same violent frenzies that allowed him to shine as an actor also produced immense pain and suffering for himself and his loved ones. 

A whole set of new insights emerged during his therapy exercises. These thoughts flooding into his head invoked him to reach down into his creative mind, and thus he wrote a script based on his own life.

The script follows his complicated relationship with his father; it specifically sheds light on key moments in Shia’s childhood that have led to the man he is today. The script was adapted into a feature film last year called Honey Boy, based on a nickname given to Shia by his father. Shia himself played the role of his adult father in the film. 

Finding your authentic self is hard work but worth it

Shia has seen and been through a lot in his life, and there is no doubt that his trauma and struggles will haunt him in some way or the other for the rest of his life. Like most of us, he too was subjected to incidents and experiences that were largely outside of his control. And unfortunately, his worse impulses kicked in and he took to violent behavior as a way to mask his most inner vulnerabilities. 

But between the strange performance projects and the rehab-influenced screenwriting, Shia finally discovered what it means to be a human.

Our lives are riddled with complications but that doesn’t mean that we can’t find a way to release those powerful emotions into healthy positive behaviors that actively help us and those around us. It’s really beautiful and rewarding to be able to acknowledge and work through those negative impulses and come out on the other side with a renewed sense of appreciation.

Being able to turn our lives around and live as honestly as possible is one of the most phenomenal aspects of humanity if you really think about it.

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