Shia LaBeouf tweets, pouts and leaves: A summary of the ‘Orphans’ debacle

Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf

Actors + fame + Twitter. The result should have been obvious. Now, not only has blockbuster actor Shia LaBeouf departed the upcoming production of Orphans citing “creative differences” on Feb. 20 but he has managed to publicize the entire private exchange leading up to his dramatic departure.

“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,” LaBeouf wrote in an emailed apology to the acting and production team of Orphans on Feb. 19, which included his costar, Alec Baldwin. After a rambling essay on what a man is, LaBeouf ends with “Alec, I’m sorry for my part in a disagreeable situation.”

Apparently, he was not so sorry as to keep the emails private.

LaBeouf posted this email and several others from the fracas to his Twitter account on Feb. 21 and now the words contained in those exchanges have bounced from the Twitter-verse all the way to the New York Times.

An email from Orphans’ director Daniel Sullivan sent on Feb. 19 implies the differences may have been more than just creative:

“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. This one will haunt me. You tried to warn me. You said you were a different breed. I didn’t get it.”

LaBeouf is not the first actor to depart a rehearsal space that also contained Baldwin and his notorious sense of entitlement. Jan Maxwell left an off-Broadway revival of Entertaining Mr. Sloane in 2006, when the AC broke and apparently so did Baldwin’s temper. Admirably, Baldwin had little to say to LaBeouf in response to the apology email.

Baldwin wrote:

“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. – AB”

Why did LaBeouf post all of this to his Twitter? Publicity is one answer and maybe he wanted to avoid the criticism that this departure was his fault. Along with sharing his disjointed personal emails to Sullivan and Baldwin, LaBeouf tweeted an email from the playwright, Lyle Kessler, who advised LaBeouf to “Have fun in the exploration…you will grow as an actor, believe me.” LaBeouf replied, “im a child dont mind me.”

Even though it took less than two weeks for LaBeouf to exit the rehearsal process, he still came away with one friend, his costar Tom Sturridge. LaBeouf tweeted, “Depth of friendship does not depend on length of acquaintance. Tom = good dude – good actor.” Given the scandal brewing around the tweets, you would think these emails registered a little higher than polite disappointment but the real scandal seems to be that they were made public.

It is like my friends and I used to say at school, with sarcasm in our voices: “Drama in the Drama Department? Who’d have guessed?” It seems the natural result of big egos and small tempers, not to mention the internet. Now that Ben Foster has been announced as LaBeouf’s replacement in Orphans, you can follow all of LaBeouf’s latest thoughts on his Twitter account. First reaction? “BEN FOSTER IS A BEAST. HE WILL KILL IT” (@thecampaignbook).

Orphans, by Lyle Kessler, is scheduled to begin previews March 19 and opens April 7 at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre. This will be Foster’s professional stage debut.

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4 Responses

  1. I had not one, but two random Shia sightings a few weeks ago—both in one day. That boy is one fast walker!

    • Josh, fun to know. I wonder where he was going so quickly? Or what he was leaving…Let us know if you see him again. Best!

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