Shia LaBeouf has a story to tell about two moments of salvation – one worldly and one spiritual.
The worldly salvation came about in 2021 when he was in rehab being treated for alcohol issues, having been accused by former girlfriend FKA Twigs of terrorizing her, choking her and controlling her – with the resulting fallout pushing the actor to the brink of suicide.
‘I went and loaded up a gun and sat on my table… I was gonna kill myself,’ the 36-year-old recently revealed during an interview on actor Jon Bernthal’s podcast.
As he recalls, his disgrace was such that nobody would turn up to see him on the rehab’s weekly ‘Family Day’ – neither parent, no friends, and no former professional allies.
And then, out of the blue, after three weeks of sitting alone, his ex girlfriend Mia Goth appeared on a Skype call.
That has led to a rekindling of their relationship (they were previously married in 2016 before divorcing two years later) and they now have a five-month-old daughter, Isabel.
That Goth, a shy, sweet young woman who was raised in south east London should believe so much in the troubled actor ten years her senior is a cause of wonder to many – not least LaBeouf himself.
Shia LaBeouf has become embroiled in another Hollywood scandal after he repeatedly hit back at Olivia Wilde’s claims she fired him from her movie Don’t Worry Darling and replaced him with now-boyfriend Harry Styles
The 38-year-old actress and director has claimed on several occasions that she axed LaBeouf, 36, from the movie because she had a ‘no a** holes policy’ and had a duty to leading lady Florence Pugh to keep her feeling safe
‘She saved my f***ing life. She was present for me at a time when I didn’t deserve to have nobody in my life,’ he told Bernthal last week.
The spiritual rebirth came on the set of the film Padre Pio, in which he plays a Franciscan monk with stigmata.
LaBeouf, whose mom Shayna is Jewish and who had a Bar Mitzvah, reveals that he has converted to Catholicism as a result of forming unlikely alliances with Catholic monks, and living with them in a Franciscan monastery in Santa Ynez, California.
He turned to the actor Mel Gibson for spiritual advice, also.
‘This movie kind of saved my life,’ he shared. ‘The monks gave me a parking spot and fed me. They walked me through the Gospel. They introduced me to my laugh, my smile. They invited me into their silence. They taught me how to pray.’
With the backing of Goth and God, after a long period out of the spotlight, and having been dropped by powerful acting agency CAA, he seems to be essaying a come-back in the film world.
He’s been cast in Francis Ford Coppola’s mega-budgeted passion project Megalopolis and seems to believe that he can be forgiven and start over.
But can he? The case brought against him by ex-girlfriend Twigs only reaches court next spring, and as we shall see, the picture that she paints of him is ugly indeed.
LaBeouf, whose father was a heroin addict and Vietnam veteran who allegedly pointed a gun at his son while in the grip of a PTSD flashback, has a reputation for mercurial, capricious behavior.
It has resulted in profound and repeated damage to his reputation; so far there have been 11 arrests, an attempt to stab his neighbor, stints in rehab, and troubling verbally violent outbursts, as well as repeated reports of erratic behavior at events and on set.
In 2014, he stormed out of a press conference for his controversial movie Nymphomaniac after answering just one question about the number of sex scenes in the film. Later that day, he arrived at the premiere for the same project with a paper bag on his head, which had the phrase ‘I am not famous anymore’ scrawled across it.
In December 2020, LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, musician FKA Twigs, sued him for sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress, making numerous claims about the abuse she says she faced at his hands during their relationship
LaBeouf has repeatedly denied Twigs’ claims, but in a series of recent interviews, he admitted that his ‘failings’ with her were ‘fundamental and real’. He has also insisted that he has since ’embarked on a journey that feels redemptive & righteous’
That same year he was arrested during a Broadway performance of Cabaret after he began yelling at stars Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming while they were on-stage.
In 2017, LaBeouf was caught on camera shouting and cursing at a bowling alley bartender, who had reportedly refused to serve him fries. The actor was seen in a video shared by TMZ calling the staff member a ‘f***ing racist b***h’ before security removed him from the venue.
Another arrest would follow in July of that year, this time in Savannah, Georgia, where he was charged with intoxication, disorderly conduct, and obstruction, after he became verbally abusive towards a police officer who refused to give him a cigarette.
The many sordid scandals that have blighted LaBeouf’s career could not be further from its auspicious roots.
He started out with great promise in the TV show Even Stevens in the early 2000s and tasted mainstream success in the blockbuster Transformers films, but the story of his career has largely been of reverses and controversies – fueled by the man himself.
His recent intervention in the Don’t Worry Darling brouhaha is a case in point.
A wiser person might have let Olivia Wilde’s Variety interview lie – most were only concerned with what she had to say about boyfriend Harry Styles and his co-star Florence Pugh.
But LaBeouf was having none of it.
He contested her assertion, which was that he had been let go from the film because she had a ‘no a** holes policy’ and that Wilde had a duty to Florence Pugh to keep her feeling safe.
Wilde had said that he had a ‘combative energy.’
Others might, perhaps, have written an email to Variety. Or better yet, had their PR or lawyer brief them.
But Shia went all in, releasing emails which appeared to catch Wilde in a lie as she was trying to persuade him to stay. There was even, embarrassingly, a video of her pleading with him.
After Twigs’ lawsuit was made public, LaBeouf said he was driven to the brink of suicide, but said working on his new movie Padre Pio, in which he plays a monk, helped to ‘save his life’ because it helped him to meet real-life monks in a Franciscan monastery in Santa Ynez, California, who ‘taught him how to pray’ and inspired his recent conversion to Catholicism
He also credited his wife Mia Goth with helping to ‘save his life’, revealing that she was the only person who got in touch with him when he entered rehab for alcoholism after the Twigs allegations were brought to light. The pair first began dating back in 2014 (seen), got married in 2016, then divorced two years later – before reuniting last year
The pair have since welcomed a baby daughter, Isabel, and he told actor Jon Bernthal in a recent interview that becoming a father was like hitting ‘some kind of weird reset button,’ adding: ‘She’s testing me… I need someone to keep me accountable’
Worse yet, in emails Wilde refers to Pugh as ‘Miss Flo’ and says that LaBeouf’s issues might act as a ‘wake up call’ for the actress.
Shia LaBeouf’s damning email to Olivia Wilde
Sent Wednesday 24th August
I hope this finds you inspired, purposeful, fulfilled & well. I pray every night that you & your family have health, happiness, & everything God would give me. No joke, every night before I sleep.
I have a little girl, Isabel; she is five months old and just beginning to develop the last half of her laugh; it’s AMAZING. Mia, my wife & I have found each other again & are journeying toward a healthy family with love and mutual respect.
I have embarked on a journey that feels redemptive & righteous (dirty word but fitting). I write to you now with 627 days of sobriety and a moral compass that never existed before my great humbling that was the last year and a quarter of my life. I reached out to you a few months ago to make amends; & I still pray one day, you can find space in your heart to forgive me for the failed collaboration we shared.
What inspired this email today is your latest Variety story. I am greatly honored by your words on my work; thank you, that felt good to read. I am a little confused about the narrative that I was fired, however. You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors & I couldn’t find time to rehearse. I have included as a reminder the screenshots of our text exchange on that day, and my text to Tobey.
I know that you are beginning your press run for DWD and that the news of my firing is attractive clickbait, as I am still persona-non-grata and may remain as such for the rest of my life. But, speaking of my daughter, I often think about the news articles she will read when she is literate. And though I owe, and will owe for the rest of my life, I only owe for my actions.
My failings with Twigs are fundamental and real, but they are not the narrative that has been presented. There is a time and a place to deal with such things, and I am trying to navigate a nuanced situation with respect for her and the truth, hence my silence. But this situation with your film and my “firing” will never have a court date with which to deal with the facts. If lies are repeated enough in the public they become truth. And so, it makes it that much harder for me to crawl out of the hole I have dug with my behaviors, to be able to provide for my family.
Firing me never took place, Olivia. And while I fully understand the attractiveness of pushing that story because of the current social landscape, the social currency that brings. It is not the truth. So I am humbly asking, as a person with an eye toward making things right, that you correct the narrative as best you can. I hope none of this negatively effects you, and that your film is successful in all the ways you want it to be.
Every Blessing To You,
That clearly damaged the film and relations between the two women. Pugh, 26, and Wilde, 38, shared a red carpet a few days later, but managed not to look at each other or interact in any way. It was highly awkward.
Pugh also stayed away from the press conference during which Wilde was asked whether there was a conflict between them. Wilde would only say that Pugh is ‘a force’ and added that she was glad to have her in the film.
In an email to Wilde that he later shared with Variety, LaBeouf denied he was fired, instead claiming he ‘quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time.’
He said: ‘I have embarked on a journey that feels redemptive & righteous (dirty word but fitting). I write to you now with 627 days of sobriety and a moral compass that never existed before my great humbling that was the last year and a quarter of my life.
‘I reached out to you a few months ago to make amends; & I still pray one day, you can find space in your heart to forgive me for the failed collaboration we shared.’
Launching the film in Venice, Wilde refused to talk about LaBeouf – while he doubled down on what he had said in his emails, this time in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter during which he offered his ‘blessings’ to the movie.
He also surprised many by choosing that moment to address his conflict with Twigs, even as he found himself embroiled in another scandal.
In an email sent to Variety, LaBeouf admitted that his ‘failings’ with Twigs were ‘fundamental and real,’ but he insisted ‘they are not the narrative that has been presented.’
In December 2020, Twigs sued LaBeouf for ‘relentless abuse’ including sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress. Through lawyers, LaBeouf denied causing Twigs ‘any injury or loss’, saying that she was not ‘entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever’.
Twigs, born Tahlia Barnett met LaBeouf on the film Honey Boy in 2018. In her lawsuit she describes him gaining her trust initially via ‘over-the-top displays of affection.’
However she says that his behavior became controlling. She said that he would be provoked to fury if she spoke to or looked at male waiters or other man.
Twigs also claimed that LaBeouf implemented rules about how many times a day she had to kiss and touch him, and that he didn’t let her wear any clothing in bed.
She alleged that the pair had verbal fights over trivia which would go on all night, and sensationally accused him of ‘knowingly’ giving her a sexually transmitted disease.
He kept a loaded gun by the bed, she said, adding that she was afraid to use the bathroom in the night in case he mistook her for an intruder and shot her. She also claimed that he shot stray dogs with a gun in order to get into character for a role.
Twigs stated that the release of her album had to be delayed and her tour pushed back as she struggled with the toll of the relationship and LaBeouf’s alleged abuse.
She recalled one particularly painful incident in 2019, when they took a trip to the desert. Here, she says he woke her in the middle of the night and choked her. As they made their way back to their home in Los Angeles, the musician said LaBeouf took off his seatbelt and threatened to crash the car unless she told him she loved him.
They stopped at a gas station and she said she took her bags out of the trunk but claimed that he followed her and assaulted her, throwing her against the car and screaming in her face.
Others saw what was happening, but nobody intervened.
Twigs said: ‘What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life. I don’t think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody.’
The many sordid scandals that have blighted LaBeouf’s career could not be further from its auspicious roots; he started out with great promise in the TV show Even Stevens in the early 2000s
However LaBeouf (seen with his late mother Shayna) dealt with trauma during his childhood; his father was a heroin addict and Vietnam veteran who allegedly pointed a gun at him while in the grip of a PTSD flashback
LaBeouf’s initial response was contrite. He said in an email to the New York Times: ‘I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel.
‘I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.’
He added that he was in a 12-step program and in recovery from PTSD. He lost his representation at CAA and retreated from the spotlight.
While his career was in ashes, though, his romance with Goth was flourishing.
They had dated in 2012, got married in 2016 and got divorced in 2018. But, by April 2020, only four months after Twigs filed her lawsuit, Goth was once again wearing a wedding band and a diamond ring and living with LaBeouf in Los Angeles. They were seen on vacation together over the summer of 2021 and she had their baby daughter in April.
He told Bernthal of their reconciliation: ‘There were no promises made, was no long conversations being had, nothing, just her presence. The ministry of presence. Sometimes that’s all you need to offer a person who’s in a situation like that. Just to be present. And she was present for me at a time when I didn’t deserve to have nobody in my life. Especially her.
‘She’s a real one. She’s a real one… it’s the first time I really understood love, because I have nothing to give. And I was sitting there thinking like, “Well I don’t have nothing. It’s not sexy to be with me. Don’t you get it?”‘
He’s given two long interviews in the past month, one with Catholic Bishop Robert Barron and one with Bernthal. In both, he’s talked about being suicidal.
He told Barron that after the FKA Twigs scandal broke, he became a persona non grata in all areas of his life, admitting: ‘At this point I’m nuclear. Nobody wants to talk to me, including my mother. My manager’s not calling. The agent’s not calling. I’m not connected to the business any more.
‘I had a gun on the table. I was outta here. I didn’t want to be alive anymore when all this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before – the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe. You don’t know where to go. You can’t go outside and get a taco.’
Speaking to Bernthal, LaBeouf said that Catholicism had saved him but also said that Twigs’ lawsuit played a part – even calling her a ‘saint’.
‘I hurt that woman, and in the process of doing that, I hurt many other people, and many other people before that woman. I was a pleasure-seeking, selfish, self-centered, dishonest, inconsiderate, fearful human being,’ he said.
‘Had she not intervened in my life and not created the avenue for me to experience ego death, I’d either have a really mediocre existence or I’d be dead in full.’
During the interview, LaBeouf admitted to ‘cheat[ing] on every woman I’ve ever been with’ and never telling his sexual partners about getting cold sores.
He concluded: ‘I’m in the tribe of the f***-ups. I’m a very public sinner, a very fallible person in the public sphere.
‘My purpose, and I mean this with every fiber of my being, is to be instructive with my life, so that I can be an advertisement, like a billboard, for a principled way of living.’
He said in his email to Wilde: ‘Mia, my wife & I have found each other again & are journeying toward a healthy family with love and mutual respect.’ He adds that he will be making amends to her for the rest of his life.
And he told Bernthal that becoming a father was like hitting ‘some kind of weird reset button.’ He added: ‘She’s testing me. It’s almost like having the ultimate parole officer. I need someone to keep me accountable.’
Not everyone is convinced by this succession of mea culpas. He claims to have a string of saviors – but is the person he feels most sorry for actually himself?