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Shia LaBeouf: A Fellow Actor With Down Syndrome Helped Me See God

Shia LaBeouf: A Fellow Actor With Down Syndrome Helped Me See God

Shia LaBeouf recently sat down for a long interview with Esquire, and in it, discussed his struggles with alcohol, arrests and public meltdowns at length. It’s a difficult and emotional story (LaBeouf revealed that as a child, he heard his mother being raped and now suffers from PTSD.) LaBeouf recently went to rehab and is now sober, and in the story, he reveals how an encounter with a fellow actor helped change his life—and how he sees God.

While LaBeouf was shooting the film The Peanut Butter Falcon—which also stars Zachary Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome, for whom the movie was written—he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly in public. While at the police station, he was filmed making extremely racist remarks to the police officers and insulting them. (Today, he calls the incident “mortifying” and has apologized.)

When Gottsagen found out about the arrest, he confronted Labeouf. He told him, “You’re already famous. This is my chance. And you’re ruining it.”

LaBeouf said, “To hear him say that he was disappointed in me probably changed the course of my life … Zack can’t not shoot straight, and bless him for it, ’cause in that moment, I needed a straight shooter who I couldn’t argue with.” 

From Esquire: “He says their conversation continued on set: ‘We were getting ready to do a scene and Zack said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And I thought, No f****** way are you about to explain God to me, Zack.’ LaBeouf tries to keep it together. His voice jumps an octave. ‘Zack said, ‘Even if He’s not real, what does it hurt?’”

LaBeouf later says, “I don’t believe in God,” but suggests that the conversation did possibly change the way he thinks about God: “But did I see God? Did I hear God? Through Zack, yeah. He met me with love, and at the time, love was truth, and he didn’t pull punches. And I’m grateful, not even on some cheeseball s*** trying to sell a movie. In real life. That motherf***** is magical.”

The entire piece is worth a read and provides a moving perspective on one of Hollywood’s most consistently provocative actors.

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