Shia LaBeouf Applauds the Show that Fired Him at ‘Orphans’ Preview

Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf

For Shia LaBeouf, the drama doesn’t ever seem to end. Especially when the drama is self-made. Recently in the headlines for his hasty departure from the Broadway production of Orphans in February, LaBeouf arrived unannounced for Tuesday’s first preview of the show and sat conspicuously in the front row. As many news outlets reported, LaBeouf managed to catch the eye of Alec Baldwin, currently starring in the show, and was also the first member of the audience to jump to his feet for a standing ovation. Theatre commentators have been shaking heads over the antics and wondering whether this latest move by LaBeouf represents maturity and respect or just one more attempt to get even with the show that fired him.

LaBeouf and the team behind Orphans, Lyle Kessler’s play about two brothers who take an older man hostage, had only been in rehearsals for two weeks when LaBeouf was let go. After clashing with Baldwin and Orphans director Daniel Sullivan, LaBeouf exited the show citing “creative differences” and was replaced by actor Ben Foster. In either a bid to tell his side of the story or as a way to insult the show, LaBeouf took to Twitter and shared a series of personal emails between himself and Sullivan, Baldwin, Rick Sordelet (fight director) and other members of the show. The resulting mess was, well, a mess. It led to the emergence of these gems:

“Don’t be too surprised if Alec doesn’t look up from his script much for the first few days. I suspect he’s not nearly as prepared as you are.” – Sullivan to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 10

“We start Monday. But I’m so f—ing tired.” – Baldwin to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 10

“im a hustler. i dont get tired. im 26 chief.” – LaBeouf to Baldwin, emailed Feb 10

“Listen, boy. I’m not your f—in’ chief. You got that? Ha. Hahahahaha. Let’s go.” – Baldwin to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 10.

“Have fun in the exploration…you will grow as an actor, believe me.” – Kessler to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 14

“im a child dont mind me.” – LaBeouf to Kessler, emailed Feb 14

“A man owns up… A man grasps his mistakes. He lays claim to who he is, and what he was, whether he likes them or not…Alec, I’m sorry for my part in a disagreeable situation.” – LaBeouf to Orphans team, emailed Feb 19 (later found to be plagiarized from Esquire’s 2009 “How to be a Man)

“I’m too old for disagreeable situations. You’re one hell of a great actor. Alec is who he is. You are who you are. You two are incompatible. I should have known it.” – Sullivan to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 19

“I’ve been through this before. It’s been a while. And perhaps some of the particulars are different. But it comes down to the fact that what we all do now is critical. Perhaps especially for you. When the change comes, how do we handle it, whether it be good or bad? What do we learn? I don’t have an unkind word to say about you. You have my word.” –  Baldwin to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 20

“So sorry things went down like they did…It must have been difficult for others in the room to be schooled by someone who’s raw talent and enthusiasm out matched theirs.” – Sordelet to LaBeouf, emailed Feb 21

“the theater belongs not to the great but to the brash. acting is not for gentlemen, or bureaucratic-academics. what they do is antiart.” – LaBeouf, tweeted Feb 21

“I can tell you that, in all honesty, I don’t think he’s in a good position to be giving interpretations of what the theater is and what the theater isn’t. I mean, he was never in the theater. He came into a rehearsal room for six or seven days and, uh — you know, sometimes film actors… it’s the opposite of film acting. It’s a much more intensive and kind of thoughtful process. And there are people who that’s just not their thing. So for those people who I think it’s not their thing, I’m not really interested in their opinion of it. But thanks.” – Baldwin to Vulture.com, March 5

Whew. These communications are arranged in the order they were dated rather than the order in which LaBeouf released them (for example, the Feb 10 emails were released after Baldwin’s Vulture.com response). The moral of the story seems to be, don’t hire LaBeouf. Or don’t email him anything. Besides LaBeouf being fired and replaced by Foster, Sordelet is no longer listed as fight choreographer, according to playbill.com. Fight Direction is currently by Thomas Schall.

Sullivan has expressed regret over his part in the fracas and apparently communicated that it was his own decision to let LaBeouf go and had nothing to do with Baldwin.

Orphans began previews on March 26 and opens April 18 at the Schoenfeld Theatre.

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