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Brad Pitt’s Concern Over Shia LaBeouf’s “Method” Odors May Mean the Actor Is Too Extreme for Hollywood
Posted on January 19, 2014 | Category: News | 1 comment

In November, we reviewed all of the extremes this year’s best-actor contenders went to for their awards-worthy performances. Idris Elba slept in Nelson Mandela’s jail cell to mentally prepare to play the late South African leader in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. Matthew McConaughey shed nearly 50 pounds from his 187-pound frame to play an electrician who contracts H.I.V. in Dallas Buyers Club. Robert Redford even forfeited 60 percent of his hearing in one ear after sustaining high-pressure water injuries while filming All Is Lost. Outside of this season’s awards fray though, Shia LaBeouf has been gaining headline momentum for his own extreme method preparations for assorted roles. Only unlike his elder, best-actor candidate peers, his strange tactics have earned him raised eyebrows, industry criticism, and if one report is to be believed, an isolated hotel room miles away from his current cast mates.

A source tells the Daily Mail that LaBeouf has been unpopular on the set of Fury, the World War II drama filming in England, because he is maddeningly “trying to prove that he [i]s the most dedicated star.” Among his reported endeavors in extremity: ripping out his own tooth and taking a clear stand against showers as a means of solidarity with his character, an American soldier embedded in the trenches. A source tells the paper, “He pulled out his own tooth during the first few weeks of filming and then refused to shower for weeks on end so he could better understand how his character would have felt living in the trenches.”

The apparently pungent dedication to his craft was not popular with the crew: “Shia was warned about his behaviour by several people on set, including Brad Pitt and director David Ayer” and was allegedly moved to a different hotel. “He didn’t heed any of their warnings and found himself staying in a small bed-and-breakfast hotel away from the rest of the cast.”

This is not even the most controversial current narrative about the actor, a confounding serial plagiarizer whose bizarre exercise in copying apologies (and in one case, a short film) must be some attempt at James Franco-ian performance art. Right? (Or else this is an extravagant experiment for a thesis paper on the sincerity of apologies.) Even Lena Dunham couldn’t resist comparing LaBeouf, who she accidentally baited into a recent Twitter exchange, to Franco last night at the Girls premiere.

Adding more evidence that LaBeouf is spiraling out into that crazy actorly orbit, where Hollywood stars lose touch with reality, is another unconventional move he made to get a role. To secure his role in Lars von Trier’s upcoming film Nymphomaniac, which features many scenes of hardcore sex, the actor confesses that he sent photos of his penis to the film’s production team to prove that he was “game” for the project. (Producers have said that the actual sex was performed by body doubles before digitally inserting the actors’s faces onto the doubles.) In his defense, LaBeouf says that the photo was a request on part of the production team. . . but it took the actor only 20 minutes to take the photos and click send, he says.

Other actors have certainly gone to lengths which would similarly earn them categorization as insane if mental health professionals were available on set. Daniel Day-Lewis memorably spent his time filming My Left Foot in character as Christy Brown, the Irishman born with cerebral palsy who could only control his left foot, by staying in a wheelchair throughout filming, and demanding that he be fed by others. What is the difference, then, between the similarly crazy lengths gone to by Lewis and LaBeouf? It could just be a matter of drawing a line between “insanely method” and “unacceptably insanely method”—the latter meaning that an actor’s behavior affects and annoys those around him. However some users of Reddit, who have begun an entire conversation thread on the issue of LaBeouf’s diehard antics, have another theory.

“People would be gushing because Daniel Day-Lewis is an amazing actor, and whatever he does to bring out those amazing performances works,” one user posits. “LaBeouf’s been going downhill since Even Stevens.”

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