Shia LaBeouf may be one of Hollywood’s most elusive leading men. Even though he starred in the quintessential modern blockbuster “Transformers” franchise, the 26-year-old actor has spent almost all of his time outside the shoes of Sam Witwicky trying to eschew the trappings that come with movie stardom. He’s taken roles in hard-core Lars Von Trier films and more recently explained his departure from the Broadway show “Orphans” due to a conflict with co-star Alec Baldwin to David Letterman.
For his newest film, Robert Redford’s “The Company You Keep,” LaBeouf takes on a role within the institution that has had such a hard time capturing him: the media. When he spoke with MTV News’ Josh Horowitz about his role as a journalist in the film, the conversation quickly turned to LaBeouf’s own public image and how Twitter has been a respite from that.
MTV: The journalist you portray in “The Company You Keep,” I’m hoping he wasn’t inspired by me because there are shades of gray. There are some mistakes that you make.
Shia LaBeouf: Yeah, yeah.
MTV: Do you think this reflects your own view? You know you’ve had your good and bad moments with journalists over the years. Are you more cynical or open to journalism than you were five years ago?
LaBeouf: I’m the same, kinda. I think once you get burned, you don’t put your hand there anymore. I don’t view you guys as the enemy. You don’t feel that from me ever. But I’m also not like, “Hey, let’s talk about me all the time.” I don’t see you at every party, I’m not that guy. But there’s a hats-off, respect element. Your life is all encompassing in what you do, and I respect that. I’m the same way. I see the passionate versions of what you do and the impassionate versions, and vice versa. Hats off to the passionate ones. I’m all for loving the people who care. There was this guy that I followed named Robert Faturechi at the LA Times, different than you or other friends that I have in your position. Those guys are more like hunters. Yours has a sort of social, friendly thing. Their sh– is far more like self-serving and a safari hunt thing.
MTV: Take them out.
LaBeouf: Yeah, it’s about who’s there first.
MTV: How’s Twitter treating you? We’re in the mutual respect club on Twitter. Are you enjoying it?
LaBeouf: Actually, it’s good for certain things, and then it’s bad for other things. I’m impulsive, and I’m quiet passionate, and that’s a bad mix. That causes some trouble, but I do like posting poems about my beard just for sh–s and giggles. That’s fun for me, but I’m also not trying to have conversations every moment of every day and telling you where I’m at all the time. You know I just went through some heavy tumultuousness. It was kind of nice to share poetry with people. Honestly, I swear to God, it takes some of the sting off of the circumstance, if that makes any sense. Sometimes it’s nice to be social, and for an anti-social person, only child, it’s kind of nice.
MTV: It’s your outlet.
LaBeouf: Yeah, Twitter gives you that. You can also have distance whenever you want it.
MTV: Yeah, we can’t find you. Don’t worry. It’s OK.
LaBeouf: Yeah, that’s just it. And I also find that I’m mean-faced McGee in paparazzi pictures.
MTV: This is the real Shia we’re seeing.
LaBeouf: Yeah, in a way, because I feel like I’m so angry when I get approached by click click click because I am. I’m not like that in my life, and I feel like there’s a misconception of me being this angry little elf. I’m not, I’m really not.
MTV: He’s just a talking beard.
LaBeouf: Exactly. That’s part of me. That’s a facet of my character. I don’t know why, but it’s like a trophy for me to share. It’s kind of nice. I enjoy the response.
Check out everything we’ve got on “The Company You Keep.”