You might have seen pictures floating around recently of Shia LaBeouf (or at least, someone in a tuxedo purporting to be Shia LaBeouf) wearing a paper bag inscribed with the words ‘I am not famous anymore’, and staring defiantly through a couple of strategically placed eye holes. Those of you who are into that sort of thing will be able to confirm whether they are in fact LaBoeuf’s eyes – until said confirmation comes over the wire, we’ll just have to take it on faith.
This all went down at the premiere of the extended cut of Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac at the Berlin Film Festival. LaBeouf also courted controversy by walking out of a press conference for the film after uttering only this cryptic Eric Cantona quotation: ‘When seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea’.
LaBeouf has also forgone all other Tweets in favour of his new favourite phrase – I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE – which he has Tweeted more than 20 times since January 13th. A few hours before the time of writing, he Tweeted a single hashtag: #IAMSORRY. So, what’s the actor playing at, we might well ask.
It seems as though LaBeouf is taking a rather large leaf out of Lars Von Trier’s Big Book of Public Relations. Director Von Trier was not at the ‘seagull’ press conference himself, although he did show up to Nymphomaniac’s press call wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with ‘Persona Non Grata’ and the symbol for Cannes Film Festival, presumably a reference to his being banned from Cannes in 2011 after making a joke about Nazism at a press conference for Melancholia.
It has been speculated that LaBeouf’s actions may be connected to the recent alleged plagiarism drama concerning his short film Howard Cantour.com, for which, as the Guardian reports, LaBeouf ‘borrowed large sections of dialogue from a Daniel Clowes graphic novel…LaBoeuf apologised. However, LaBoeuf’s subsequent apologies were themselves discovered to have been copied from other sources.’ You classy dude, LaBoeuf.*
Clearly, we are not privy to what has been running through the actor’s mind of late, but if we boil all this down to its purest form, we are left with the pretty safe assumption that Shia is about 100% done with the press (and probably quite a few other things too). Apart from that, nobody seems to be at all sure exactly what he’s getting at, and judging by the amount of cryptic content he’s coming out with at the moment, we won’t be getting a solid explanation from him any time soon (or possibly ever).
Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 will be released in the UK on February 22nd, but it won’t be the extended version (the extended version is unlikely to ever be released in theatres due to being so explicit that it will fry our little brains).
UPDATE: Shia has now put together an art installation involving him wearing the self-same tux and paper bag and staring at people as they queue up to see him – curiouser and curiouser.
*An interesting side note in this whole confuzzling mess: LaBoeuf hired a skywriter – that’s right, a skywriter – to write ‘I am sorry Daniel Clowes’ over Los Angeles, while simultaneously pumping out a bunch of mocking Tweets. Yep.