Cannes 2010: Shia LaBeouf: We botched the last Indiana Jones
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The last time Shia LaBeouf came to Cannes, in 2008, it was to promote ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,’ the revival of the swashbuckling adventure franchise that went on to earn a whopping $787 million around the world. LaBeouf is back on the Croisette this weekend to flog ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps,’ another revival of a classic from several decades ago. But he’s not willing to forget about what he says were rampant problems with Indy 4 -- and he doesn’t expect fans to, either.
‘I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished,’ LaBeouf said, explaining that this upped the ante for him before he began shooting the ‘Wall Street’ sequel. ‘If I was going to do it twice, my career was over. So this was fight-or-flight for me.’
Meeting with reporters Saturday on a terrace at the Hotel du Cap, he had some strong, confessional words about his acting in the film, which he said he felt didn’t convince anyone that he was the action hero the movie claimed him to be. ‘You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg, who directed]. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple.’
LaBeouf said that he could have kept quiet, especially given the movie’s blockbuster status, but didn’t
think the film had fooled anyone. ‘I think the audience is pretty intelligent. I think they know when you’ve made ... . And I think if you don’t acknowledge it, then why do they trust you the next time you’re promoting a movie.’ LaBeouf went on to say he wasn’t the only star on the film who felt that way. ‘We [Harrison Ford and LaBeouf] had major discussions. He wasn’t happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn’t universally accepted.’
LaBeouf added, ‘We need to be able to satiate the appetite,’ he said. ‘I think we just misinterpreted what we were trying to satiate.’
Asked whether this was difficult to say, given his deep relationship with Spielberg, LaBeouf continued with the directness.
‘I’ll probably get a call. But he needs to hear this. I love him. I love Steven. I have a relationship with Steven that supersedes our business work. And believe me, I talk to him often enough to know that I’m not out of line. And I would never disrespect the man. I think he’s a genius, and he’s given me my whole life. He’s done so much great work that there’s no need for him to feel vulnerable about one film. But when you drop the ball you drop the ball.’
Interviewing LaBeouf is a unique experience. It’s nearly impossible not to like the 23-year-old, who carries an honesty and a winning sincerity that endears him to you despite, or because of, his mispronunciation of words such as ‘schoolastic’ and ‘hyperboil’ (as though the word for exaggeration connotes a manic skin blemish). He’s refreshingly honest, apparently engaged with subjects far beyond movies and willing to throw out whatever playbook his publicists no doubt beg him to use.
He’s also relentlessly intense and unfailingly earnest, taking every question hyper-seriously. When asked whether shooting ‘Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps’ gave him some insight on what was wrong with our financial system, he said this, with exactly no interruptions:
‘You can make the marketplace more transparent. If people had known who was paying for the mortgages instead of having to rely on Moody’s triple-A (bull) rating -- transparency would have helped. The triple A rating thing is ridiculous. That’s like Oliver [Stone] paying you for a review. The people who were bundling this toxic crap were paying Moody’s for the review of their crap. That’s ridiculous. You can’t have bank holding companies acting as hedge funds. You can’t have them taking a million-dollar pension plan for Joe Schmo the bus driver and treat it with the same risk appetite that you treat George Soros’ pocket money. It’s fundamentally ridiculous. And it hasn’t gotten better very recently, actually. They went from bundling mortgages that were crap to bundling life insurance policies and betting on people’s deaths. And you can’t blame it all on the Street.... People’s mentality needs to change. If the Greece contagion thing takes off and it goes from Spain to Ireland to Portugal things are going to change drastically for the world. Soup kitchens, it won’t be that type of change. You won’t get a depression that way. But it’ll be very difficult. I think, my generation, it’s hard to have hope when you got a $700-trillion derivatives debt to pay and a bubble about to explode and $500 trillion worth of GDP. You took all the money in the world and put it in a pot, you’re $200 trillion short. It’s scary, man. You know the average person born today owes $8,000? The average person getting out of college owes $75,000 with no job. I mean it’s scary. My generation, it’s a scary situation.’
If only some of that energy had come through in the last Indiana Jones.
-- Steven Zeitchik, reporting from Cannes, France
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