The Film Buffa Says: Shia LaBeouf speaks out, says he wasn’t fired from ‘Don’t Worry Darling’

There’s a huge space between being fired and quitting; it’s immense. Such a distance that Shia LaBeouf came out of his “persona-non-grata” hibernation period to debunk a story. A story about him being fired from Olivia Wilde’s upcoming movie, “Don’t Worry Darling.”

You’ve heard about it at some point this summer, and the chatter has only increased this month. After a Variety cover story on Wilde revealed her opening up about LaBeouf’s exit from the film, a co-lead that eventually went to Harry Styles. The singer/actor is now romantically linked to Wilde, another bombshell in the story. I get it. Shia gets it too. All of this paints a pretty picture for the multi-faceted Wilde, who is recovering from a nasty and very public breakup with Jason Sudeikis-he served her papers at Comic Con while she was promoting this movie-and needs a win even before her film premieres next month.

But false is false, and it can start to stink. LaBeouf has his own story, one where he quit “Darling” and was never fired. He blamed it on a lack of time for him and the actors to properly rehearse their roles. In a follow-up story, also on Variety, he provided texts and emails, including a very long one that was sent out around two weeks ago, according to Shia. He wrote nice things about Wilde and their brief time working together, taking the first two paragraphs to detail how he is praying for them and doing his own time.

Give the man credit where it’s due. He’s done monstrous things and accepts every single one of his faults. It’s not Nobel Prize or award worthy, but at least he’s not hiding, or running from accusations and living in supreme denial. As a wise bartender told a thief-turned-sheriff in a fictional town called Banshee, we build our cells–better than any prison-designed space. LaBeouf isn’t releasing or working on films right, a cocoon of self-exile that started in January when FKA twigs sued him for sexual assault and battery, along with emotional distress. It was a grim and in-depth report on LaBeouf’s actions, the kind that are best not discussed. It’s like turning up the volume in order to flush out the ugly thoughts.

But who he is in real life and who he portrays on screen are two different things, at least we have to think of it that way as film critics/fans/addicts. Give it a name. Roman Polanski won an Oscar, even if he had fled the country following underage sexual assault charges. One of the girl’s was 10 years old. This isn’t condemning LaBeouf’s actions, not one bit at all. He did what he did and is paying the price-not working is money not made, ladies and gents, hero/villain or a mix-but I have always respected his ability to take what’s coming head-on, instead of hiding. I’m talking to you, Ezra Miller. But I digress, in order for the point to be maintained.

Published this week, the Variety article with LaBeouf’s shared texts and email conversations with Wilde, sheds light on the “Darling” situation in a brand new way. It appears Wilde held on for a while before the two came to their mutual parting, shown in a video message from the actress/filmmaker. It’s not that LaBeouf is out to make this all about him; he just wants the record to be straight, and the glossy but apparently fake story that has been dished by Wilde isn’t as it appears. While he does have a movie made by Abel Ferrara debuting this fall at the Venice Film Festival, he’s not leaving his cocoon anytime soon, at least until the FKA twigs charges/price are truly dealt with. He addresses that process not being at its completion in the letter to Wilde. It will reach some impasse at the court next April.

Here’s the tough part. I really like Wilde, and I also really love LaBeouf’s acting talent. I think he would have slayed the part, with no disrespect to Styles, who did fare well in Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk.” But this is an awkward look right now for the director/star of a big fall release. It won’t be easy. Someone carrying a film on her shoulders ahead of a press schedule won’t have the most grand look if she mislabeled “he quit because of a lack of prep time” and “I fired him.”

But, as the actor has illustrated in repeated offenses, many of them assault and battery related, nobody is perfect. In fact, some people are pretty fucking far from it. And that’s fine, as long as they do their time and accept what’s coming at them. LaBeouf has done that, and will face a harsher kind in the spring. Wilde just has to come out and say she fucked up. We all do it, even the great eggs like Ms. Wilde.

I’m not ashamed of myself here. I want LaBeouf back in movies, unleashing that unbridled soul in better ways than harming women or animals. Some creatives just need more support, a larger crutch for no specific reason. You either care or you don’t. I want to continue to care about LaBeouf movies, and Wilde-made movies too. That’s my forever addicted tag with the movies.

But the truth is a dangerous thing in this business, as it is in real life. And now, the audience has heard two different reports of a situation. It deserves a third and final one, either now or after the film debuts.

Did you fire him, Olivia? Or did he “quit your film?” Let’s cut the shit and get right to it.

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