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It doesn’t get any more disappointing than someone telling you about the potential you once had. Had. Past tense. Implying that any hopes that person had for you are long gone. It’s like a verbal punch in the gut — and Shia LaBeouf, after many, many, many chances — is still reeling from it. But there might be hope for Shia yet, because it appears he’s finally realized just how much his actions have impacted his life and livelihood.

What was once a promising actor in the midst of a successful career soon soon became a joke as his personal life quickly escalated into a TMZ episode. Public outbursts, bar brawls and arrests were what we associated with LaBeouf. And he’s never really and truly taken responsibility — until now.

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After his umpteenth arrest last summer, Shia finally cleaned up his act, got sober and underwent counselling. In a candid interview with Esquire magazine, he spoke about the incident, particularly the part where he belittled a black officer for being “stuck in a police force that doesn’t give a f*ck about you.” LaBeouf doesn’t try to explain away his actions; rather, he acknowledges just how brutal that comment was.

“What went on in Georgia was mortifying,” he told Esquire. “White privilege and desperation and disaster … It came from a place of self-centered delusion … It was me trying to absolve myself of guilt for getting arrested … I f*cked up.”

It was an eye-opening conversation he had with his The Peanut Butter Falcon co-star Zachary Gottsagen that helped him make the change, because it took a straight-shooter like Gottsagen to call LaBeouf out on all his crap.

“I’m a buffoon,” Shia said. “My public outbursts are failures. They’re not strategic. They’re a struggling motherf*cker showing his ass in front of the world.” But his conversation with Zachary woke something within.

“‘I don’t believe in God … But did I see God? Did I hear God? Through Zack, yeah,” LaBeouf revealed. “He met me with love, and at the time, love was truth, and he didn’t pull punches. And I’m grateful … Zack allowed me to be open to help when it came.”

Not everyone is willing to give Shia a second chance, however. He’s got Borg vs. McEnroe hitting theatres in April, but nothing after that. He detailed a discussion he was having with Spike Lee about his next project but admitted that the people who could finance it weren’t interested in having a risk like LaBeouf around. “I’m run out,” he says. “No one’s giving me a shot right now.”

But Shia gets it. “I’ve got to look at my failures in the face for a while. I need to take ownership of my sh*t and clean up my side of the street a bit before I can go out there and work again, so I’m trying to stay creative and learn from my mistakes. I’ve been falling forward for a long time. Most of my life. The truth is, in my desperation, I lost the plot.”

And there it is. Shia is finally owning his mistakes. It’s the first time in a long time (if ever, really) that he’s taking responsibility for his actions. And it’s the first time in a long that we’re reminded of what he once was–and just how good he can be.