Shia LaBeouf’s career has been a rollercoaster of up and downs: he’s got both raw talent and a raw temper, and has jumped from Disney channel comedy star to A-list actor to performance artist (or something). He’s dramatic and maybe a little ridiculous, but he’s always compelling—and that makes for some pretty great facts. Buckle yourself up into that yellow Camaro and get ready for 42 controversial facts about Shia LaBeouf.
Shia LaBeouf’s mother, Shayna, was a dancer and ballerina, and later a visual artist and jewelry designer, and his father, Jeffrey Craig, was a veteran of the Vietnam war who held down a variety of jobs.
41. Unconventional Upbringing
LaBeouf has described his parents as hippies and “pretty weird people,” and he would often go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings with his father as a child.
40. Whatever It Takes
Just how strange was it growing up in the LaBeouf household? Well, maybe this will give you some idea: his parents would dress up as clowns in order to sell hot dogs outside of their apartment. Whatever you can do to make ends meet, right?
39. WTF is Right
Bizarrely, LaBeouf has two Missy Elliot tattoos on his knees, though he admits he doesn’t love the vanguard female rapper that much.
38. Made Me Go to Rehab
His father, as evidenced by those Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, also abused drugs during LaBeouf’s childhood, and attended rehab for intravenous drug addiction.
37. Hard Times
After his parents divorced, the family went through significant financial troubles, and LaBeouf’s uncle almost adopted him because his parents were too proud to go on welfare.
36. The Best Medicine
LaBeouf dealt with these hardships through comedy, and would often perform imitations of his father to his family. Now that he’s famous for his performances, LaBeouf supports both his parents financially and remains close to them.
35. An Old Man in a Young Man’s Body
LaBeouf began performing at comedy clubs at the age of 10, and describes his appeal as having a “50-year-old mouth on [a] 10-year-old kid.”
34. Be Your Own Hero
The comedian pulled a classic Even Stevens trick to get himself an agent: he looked through the Yellow Pages, called an agent up, and pretended to be his own manager in order to snag a rep.
He has said that his initial attraction to acting, besides his love of performing, was that it was a way into making his family financially stable; he had previously met another child actor who had everything the young LaBeouf wanted, and he thought that he could also benefit from acting.
32. F on the Spelling Test
His last name, LaBeouf, is actually a mis-spelling. “Boeuf” in French means “Beef” (his father is French Cajun), but in Shia’s name, the letters O and E are flipped. Also, in French, nouns are gendered, and so it should be Le (masculine) instead of La (feminine). I would imagine, for this reason, that French journalists don’t bother covering the star as it’d make their spell check explode.
31. Excuse Me?
His full name isn’t exactly complimentary in French, either, and French people have been known to make fun of his name. In French, “Shia” sounds like the word for “Sh*t,” so his full name is akin to (a misspelled) “Sh*t the beef.”
Of course, “Shia” as a name really has a far more complimentary meaning. LaBeouf is half Jewish on his mother’s side, and in Hebrew, “Shia” means “Gift from God.”
29. Let’s Call It Even
All of his Yellow Pages hustling paid off, and in the early 2000s, he was signed for his breakthrough role as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel’s comedy show Even Stevens. LaBeouf has said that being cast in the show was the best thing that ever happened to him.
28. Didn’t Make the Squad
LaBeouf claims that he was briefly considered for the cast for Warner Bros’ Suicide Squad, but by then his volatile reputation had caught up with him, and execs felt that he was too much of a risk to cast in such a big investment.
27. Carey On
It’s difficult to remember this considering the different career paths they each took, but LaBeouf dated his Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps co-star Carey Mulligan from 2009 to 2010. Mulligan is now married to Mumford and Sons frontman Marcus Mumford.
26. College Boy
LaBeouf was actually accepted into the Ivy League’s Yale University but opted to focus on his acting career instead.
When Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen came out, LaBeouf shared the nomination for the Razzie’s Worst Screen Couple of 2009 with “either Megan Fox or any Transformer.”
24. Cheat Sheets
In 2013, LaBeouf released HowardCantour.com, a short film, on the internet. Almost immediately, bloggers pointed out the similarities between LaBeouf’s film and Justin M. Damiano, a comic by Dan Clowes. It wasn’t exactly even clever plagiarism: the opening monologues of each work are almost identical.
23. Oops He Did It Again
LaBeouf created three graphic novels, but in 2013, following the scrutiny of his short film, it was also discovered that at least two of these comics cribbed their text from Benoît Duteurtre and Charles Bukowski.
22. Sorry for Saying Sorry
When LaBeouf apologized for his plagiarism transgressions, he actually plagiarized his apology from the Yahoo Answers page. Is this performance art or something?
21. Performance Artist Shia
Well, maybe it was performance art. In 2014, LaBeouf caused even more scandalized stirrings when he showed up to the red carpet of the Berlin International Film Festival with a paper bag on his head. Yeah, remember that? Scrawled on the bag in permanent marker were the words, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.” It was later revealed that this was a part of a larger performance piece with two other artists, intended as a commentary of, among other things, the plagiarism debacle.
20. Tweet Storm
During this performance art campaign, LaBeouf tweeted out “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE” every day.
Since working with him on Holes, LaBeouf considers the actor Jon Voight as his mentor. You might know Voight from his own films or, if you’re a pop culture buff, for being Angelina Jolie’s estranged father.
The tattoo on his right wrist, which says “1986-2004,” commemorates the year he decided to become an adult.
17. More Than Method
LaBeouf has said that he was drawn to performance art because of his method-acting heroes like Daniel-Day Lewis and Sean Penn. As he said, “I loved the myths I heard about how their performances were created. And I thought, ‘Oh man, it would be great if you could see the process, you’d enjoy the performance a bit more.’”
16. Rap Roots
Through his work directing the rapper Cage’s music video for “I Never Knew You,” LaBeouf also met rapper Kid Cudi. The three of them developed a friendship and continue to collaborate.
15. Grand Inspiration
LaBeouf is named after his grandfather, who, it just so happens, was also a comedian.
14. What Happens in Vegas
In 2016, LaBeouf and his long-term girlfriend (and actress in her own right) Mia Goth had a commitment ceremony together in Las Vegas; the two are still together.
13. Claw Your Way Back
The actor has been working on making his way back into Hollywood’s good graces and is trying to attend AA meetings regularly and stay on the straight and narrow.
12. Getting Out While the Going Is Good
LaBeouf got out of the Transformers films after three films; he was replaced by Mark Wahlberg in the lead role for the later installment. He has said that he just didn’t feel like there was any way to develop his character, Sam Witwicky, any further.
11. Do It For Art
LaBeouf has never been afraid to bare it all, whether emotionally physically, and in a music video for Icelandic indie darlings Sigur Ros, he went full frontal nude. Don’t all rush to YouTube at once, now.
10. Movie Marathon
LaBeouf once publically watched 20 of his movies in a row (from most recent to oldest) in a movie theatre. It was a three-day-long endeavor, and fans were invited to join him along the journey; those who weren’t able to make it could live stream the event.
9. Gotta Have Faith
LaBeouf’s instalment of the Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was almost universally reviled. LaBeouf played Indy’s leather-jacket toting son Mutt Williams to very little acclaim. Nonetheless, Steven Spielberg had faith in LaBeouf from all the way back when the young actor starred in Holes and cast him in not only the Indiana installment, but also in Disturbia, among other films.
8. Agree to Disagree
LaBeouf pretty much agrees with the critical consensus on the sequel and his performance: he once said that he “dropped the ball” on the Indiana Jones franchise.
7. Company Man
LaBeouf also admitted that he was disappointed not only in himself on the film, but also in his interactions with Steven Spielberg. As he said, “You get there, and you realize you’re not meeting the Spielberg you dream of. You’re meeting a different Spielberg, who is in a different stage in his career. He’s less a director than he is a f**king company.”
6. Scar Tissue
While filming a fight scene in Disturbia, LaBeouf suffered an injury, and still has a scar on his ribs to this day.
5. Anything for the Role
In order to snag his role in Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, LaBeouf reportedly took photographs of his, er, nether regions, and sent them to the director. If that weren’t enough, he also recorded himself having sex with his girlfriend and sent the tape along too. Von Trier is no stranger to courting controversy, and LaBeouf got the part.
4. Don’t Embarrass Me, Dad
Shortly after Even Stevens shot him to stardom, LaBeouf was flooded with film offers. In 2003, he starred in the adaptation of the young adult novel Holes. According to LaBeouf, when his father came to visit him on the set of his son’s major film, dear old dad started flirting with one of Shia’s co-star. That co-star? Sigourney Weaver. Shia says this was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life.
3. A Different Breed
LaBeouf has said that his father was “tough as nails and a different breed of man,” and often subjected him to both verbal and mental abuse. On one occasion, while in the midst of a Vietnam flashback, his father once pointed a gun at Shia.
2. Steamy Affair
According to LaBeouf, he and his Transformers co-star Megan Fox had an affair while they were shooting. At the time, Fox may or may not have been involved with her now-husband, Brian Austin Green; the two had a volatile relationship, and it looks like LaBeouf never thought to ask. As he explained the tryst, “Look, you’re on the set for six months, with someone who’s rooting to be attracted to you, and you’re rooting to be attracted to them.”
1. Backing It Up
LaBeouf also confirmed that it was Fox’s comments about Transformers director Michael Bay—comments that compared him to Hitler—that got her booted from the Transformers franchise. However, it wasn’t Bay’s idea, it was executive producer Steven Spielberg’s idea.