Most people who gazed upon images/GIFs/clips/etc. of Shia Labeouf gazing upon his Benjamin-Buttoning life via filmography in his #ALLMYMOVIES stunt had something to say. The project — which saw Labeouf camping out at Manhattan’s Angelika Theater for three days straight to sit through every film he’s ever appeared in — had people rolling their eyes, but also starting to ponder, and even enthusiastically praise, the potential validity of Labeouf’s public, performance art-ish ruminating on celebrity and self. But no one had heard — with the exception of his rainbow of facial expressions, of course — from Shia Labeouf himself regarding thoughts on…The Work.
He spoke with NewHive — alongside his collaborators, Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkko — about the takeaways of the project.
He described how, by pulling a stunt that only a celebrity could pull, he felt he managed to humanize himself in people’s eyes, including his own. “Once you press play on your life and you open up and there’s that vulnerability and not only are people getting the artistic side of you but they’re getting the human side of you, watching that, you’ve shared everything,” he said, then continued to explain that he would never use his real name in public before this experience, and that suddenly being able to shamelessly say his name feels like a change to his “sense of self.”
“I feel lighter today,” he said. “I feel love today. It’s as simple as this: I used to order my coffee and when they’d say, ‘Hey what’s your name?’ I’d say James, because I didn’t want them to say my name.”
He elaborated that he’d always felt a sense of alienation — one that he expressed pretty clearly when he (famously) wore a bag over his head to a premiere that said “I’m not famous” — from stardom and living a Hollywood existence. But he felt a similar sense of alienation when he started trying to become a multi-hyphenate and be a part of the art world. “You feel exiled from life,” he said of stardom, “because you’re some celebrity character or a fuck up, and then you get in part of this art crowd and you’re like ‘Oh this where all the people who feel like outsiders go’ and then you go to the outsider club and you’re an outsider in the outsider club.”
Of course, people are more likely to take his more series efforts less seriously because of some of the films he partook in earlier in his career — this was a part of #ALLMYMOVIES, in that it encompassed, well, all his movies. In the interview, Labeouf acknowledged that he and the audience experienced, in parallel, when (again, in backwards chronological order) his films started getting worse, and that they were united in their tacit understanding of this fact.
“I think it started after Lawless, when the movies started getting shit,“ he said. (It should be noted that this film happened in 2012 — and thus that the backwards decline was actually the majority of the project, given that he’s had a decades long career.) “When the movies started getting shit and they knew that I felt it too, it was the shared secret that we all had…not just because I’m in it…I’m in the same boat as you, I’m a viewer in this and this is hard for me to watch too… Transformers 2 they could feel when I sunk in my seat. That’s not a performative thing. That’s me going through some kind of crisis. And I’m not the only one.”
(To this comment, Labeouf’s collaborator Luke Turner mentioned “the utter sexism of Dumb and Dumberer.’ Sexist, racist, homophobic, it was utterly deplorable.”)
Full the full rundown of Labeouf’s experience of looking back on the experience of experiencing himself, check out the interview in NewHive.