Shia LaBeouf has been in the spotlight since childhood, but there’s still a lot about the actor that you may be surprised to learn. While LaBeouf, 31, is often in the headlines for his off-screen antics (which sometimes include out-of-the-box performance art pieces), his on-screen career is pretty interesting, too. From his early days on The Disney Channel to his surprising decision to leave the Transformers franchise, here are 8 facts about LaBeouf that might surprise you.
1. He started working at a young age.
LaBeouf kicked off his career by doing stand-up comedy at the age of 11, before landing the lead in The Disney Channel’s Even Stevens at 14.
2. He found his agent by scouring a phone book.
According to Parade, LaBeouf cold-called an agent he found in the Yellow Pages, pretending to be the British manager of an up-and-coming actor named Shia LaBeouf. The gutsy move impressed the agent so much, she cast him as a client.
3. He won a Daytime Emmy for Even Stevens.
LaBeouf was clearly stunned after winning his first Emmy in 2003 at the age of 16 for his work on the Disney Channel sitcom, Even Stevens. “I don’t know how to breathe,” said a stunned LaBeouf, who played title character, Louis Stevens, on the series for 3 seasons. “This is absolutely crazy.
4. Speaking off Even Stevens, the actor still enjoys watching the movie.
While hosting a screening of all his movies during a 2003 film festival, LeBeouf took in a classic: Even Stevens. And guess what? He really enjoyed watching his younger self on screen. ‘The Even Stevens Movie was interesting, it’s all of our childhood. It’s mine and it’s yours. It wasn’t just me smiling like that. If you look at the freeze frames, everyone is smiling like wow, I remember Beans,” LeBeouf said about watching the movie with an audience, according to USA Today. “These are strangers, people I never met before. You don’t leave a museum friends with people.”
5. Director Steven Spielberg took notice of him after watching Holes with his kids.
According to Parade, the legendary director was so impressed by LaBeouf’s performance in Holes that he went on to cast the actor in a series of major films, including Disturbia, Transformers, and Indiana Jones.
6. He left the Transformers franchise.
Though the Michael Bay-directed Transformers movies performed exceedingly well at the box office, LaBeouf decided to exit the franchise ahead of the fourth installment, telling MTV that he didn’t see a future for his character, Sam. “I just don’t think right now there’s anywhere to take Sam,” LaBeouf said. “I’ve learned a great deal from Michael, as a person, as an actor, as a person on set. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy working with Michael. I love working with Michael. I would do any movie Michael wants to do. I just don’t think there’s anywhere to take it with Sam.”
7. He turned to performance art because he was inspired by actors like Daniel Day Lewis.
While LeBeouf’s turn to performance art may have come as a surprise to some, the actor told The Guardian in 2015 that the move was actually inspired by his favorite movie stars. “The guys I always looked up to – Daniel Day-Lewis, Sean Penn – 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.’ That’s why I turned to performance art, because it’s just about the process. It’s all aired out.”
8. He once got career advice from Ben Affleck.
LeBeouf got to meet both Ben Affleck and Matt Damon when the making of his 2003 movie, The Battle of Shaker Heights, was documented on the duo’s show, Project Greenlight. Speaking about the experience, LeBeouf told Interview that he never thought he’d reach a point in his career where he’d get to meet both actors. He even got some sound career advice from Affleck, who he said told him, “Keep your head on straight, kid, and don’t let all this get to you.”
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