Shia LaBeouf: A breakdown of the actor’s life, career and abuse allegations ahead of FKA twigs trial

‘Honey Boy’ star is fighting legal battle with his former partner

Louis Chilton
Friday 14 April 2023 16:15 BST
FKA twigs sues Shia LaBeouf, accusing actor of sexual battery, assault and emotional distress

Shia LaBeouf is currently fighting a legal battle over allegations of abuse made against him by his former partner, the musician FKA twigs.

A former child actor who rose to fame as an adult with roles in blockbusters such as Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, LaBeouf was accused in 2020 of crimes including sexual battery, assault, and infliction of emotional distress.

LaBeouf has denied the allegations, and is appearing in court from mid-April.

He and twigs, real name Tahliah Barnett, dated from mid-2018 to mid-2019.

Here is a breakdown of LaBeouf’s life, career, and the abuse allegations against him...

LaBeouf’s early life

LaBeouf was born to Shayna Saide, a visual artist and ex-dancer, and Jeffrey LaBeouf, a Vietnam veteran and former professional clown. His parents divorced when he was a child, and the family struggled financially; he has said that his father was addicted to heroin.

As a pre-teen, he began performing comedy, and got his breakthrough role as an actor on the Disney Channel series Even Stevens. A starring role in 2003’s Holes caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who was an early champion of his Hollywood career.

He later explored his childhood in the self-written 2019 film Honey Boy, in which he played his own father, depicted in the film as abusive. However, LaBeouf later admitted that the film was “nonsense” and not rooted in reality. Noah Jupe and Lucas Hedges played child versions of LaBeouf (called “Otis” in the film).

Film career as an adult

In 2007, LaBeouf starred in Michael Bay’s hit filmTransformers, later returning for two sequels. In 2008, he starred as “Mutt” Williams in the fourth Indiana Jones film, directed by Spielberg.

LaBeouf in ‘Indiana Jones’
LaBeouf in ‘Indiana Jones’ (Paramount Pictures)

His performances in these films received mixed receptions among critics and the general public; his role in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was particularly disliked by sections of the fanbase. Over the next decade, he would gravitate away from mainstream cinema and towards more independent projects, including 2013’s Nymphomaniac.

Before the abuse accusations, LaBeouf had been drawing some of the best reviews of his career, with acclaimed turns in Andrea Arnold’s American Honey (2016), opposite Sasha Lane, and Honey Boy.

He has been treated in rehab multiple times for addiction issues, writing the script for Honey Boy during a stay in a facility in 2016.

Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free
Apple TV+ logo

Watch Apple TV+ free for 7 days

New subscribers only. £8.99/mo. after free trial. Plan auto-renews until cancelled

Try for free

LaBeouf had originally been set to star in Olivia Wilde’s controversy-struck film Don’t Worry Darling, but exited the project in 2020. He is currently set to appear in Francis Ford Coppola’s forthcoming epic Megalopolis.

What happened on Don’t Worry Darling?

LaBeouf had been set to star opposite Florence Pugh in the 2022 psychological thriller. However, he left early in production, and was replaced by Harry Styles.

While it was said in 2020 that LaBeouf left due to “scheduling conflicts”, the film’s director, Olivia Wilde, claimed in a later interview that she had fired the actor in order to create a “safe, trusting environment” on set.

“He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances. I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job,” she said.

However, this claim was disputed by LaBeouf, who stated that he had left the production of his own accord. To back this up, LaBeouf shared an email with Variety, originally addressed to Wilde, in which he said he “couldn’t find time to rehearse”.

He also shared a video sent by Wilde in which the Booksmart director can be heard saying: “I feel like I’m not ready to give up on this yet, and I too am heartbroken and I want to figure this out.”

Wilde subsequently responded by saying: “This issue is so much more nuanced than can be explained in private texts released out of context.

“All I’ll say is he was replaced, and there was no going forward with him. I wish him the best in his recovery.”

What were the allegations against him?

Barnett originally sued LaBeouf in December 2020, citing “relentless abuse”. The artist alleged that he had assaulted her both verbally and physically over the course of their relationship. The couple met while filming Honey Boy.

In the lawsuit, Barnett claims that LaBeouf tried to choke her on multiple occasions. In February 2019, he allegedly threw her against a car while at a petrol station, and tried to strangle her while screaming in her face.

FKA twigs
FKA twigs (Getty Images)

“It may be surprising to you to learn that I was in an emotionally and physically abusive relationship. It was hard for me to process, too, during and after,” Barnett wrote on Instagram, at the time the lawsuit was announced.

“I never thought something like this would happen to me. Which is why I have decided it’s important for me to talk about it and try to help people understand that when you are under the coercive control of an abuser or in an intimate partner violent relationship, leaving doesn’t feel like a safe or achievable option,” she continued.

What has he said about the allegations?

In February 2021, LaBeouf issued a statement in which he denied causing his former partner “any injury or loss”. The actor has argued that she is not “entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever”.

LaBeouf disputed the sexual battery charge by claiming: “None of the acts alleged were based on sex and/or the conduct was not sexual.”

Though he denied each of the charges, LaBeouf admitted to being aggressive and mentioned his alcohol addiction, stating: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behaviour made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalisations.”

Anyone who requires help or support can contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline which is open 24/7 365 days per year on 0808 2000 247 or via their website

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in