Shia LaBeouf: James Franco compares Nymphomaniac star to Marlon Brando in entire essay on bag-wearing incident
"This behaviour could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness," he wrote in the New York Times
It was only a matter of time before Shia LaBeouf’s bag-wearing antics came under academic scrutiny.
And who better to hurl a few pages of pretence in the Nymphomaniac star’s general direction than Professor James Franco.
In fact, the Spring Breakers star, who is a PHD English candidate at Yale University, wrote an entire essay on the subject for the New York Times.
In it, he tried in vain to explain why LaBeouf might have decided to take on his bizarre performance art project.
"This behaviour could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness," he wrote.
"For Mr LaBeouf's sake I hope it is nothing serious. Indeed I hope - and, yes, I know that this idea has pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones - that his actions are intended as a piece of performance art, one in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona."
He could, he added, be ‘doing a Joaquin Phoenix’. The actor pretended he’d all but abandoned acting for a new career as a rap star, but he later admitted it had all been an elaborate ruse for a faux docu-film called I’m Still Here.
Or could LaBeouf simply be the modern day Marlon Brando?
"Actors have been lashing out against their profession and its grip on their public images since at least Marlon Brando.
"Brando's performances revolutionized American acting precisely because he didn't seem to be 'performing', in the sense that he wasn't putting something on as much as he was being.
"Off-screen he defied the studio system's control over his image, allowing his weight to fluctuate, choosing roles that were considered beneath him and turning down the Oscar for Best Actor in 1973.
"These were acts of rebellion against an industry that practically forces an actor to identify with his persona while at the same time repeatedly wresting it from him."
He even compared him to himself.
"At times I have felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image," Franco continued. "In 2009, when I joined the soap opera General Hospital at the same time as I was working on films that would receive Oscar nominations and other critical acclaim, my decision was in part an effort to jar expectations of what a film actor does and to undermine the tacit - or not so tacit - hierarchy of entertainment."
He went on to conclude that he hoped the move would help, rather than destroy, LaBeouf’s successful career.
"I think Mr LaBeouf's project, if it is a project, is a worthy one. I just hope that he is careful not to use up all the good will he has gained as an actor in order to show us that he is an artist."
For the Berlin premiere of Lars von Trier’s controversial new movie Nymphomaniac, LaBeouf took to the red carpet wearing a rather fetching paper bag on his head.
Scrawled across the bag in question in large black letters were the words ‘I’m not famous anymore’, a phrase no doubt referring to one of many erratic tweets he posted as he announced, shortly before the whole art project thing, his ‘retirement from public life’.
Retiring from public life, it seems, does not exclude incredibly public appearances at international film festivals. Or, indeed, making bizarre statements about seagulls following trawlers at press conferences. Which he managed to do during one such event just hours before at the Berlin Film Festival. He also managed to plagiarise Eric Cantona’s famous 1995 speech following his assault charge at the same time.
Since then, LaBeouf has set up a performance art project in Los Angeles called #IMSORRY. Visitors to the attraction can see the actor all red-eyed and down-turned in the mouth as he sits at a table with a bowl full of hand-written apologies in front of him.
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