I first saw Shia LaBeouf on the Disney channel Even Stevens. It was one of my young children’s favorite shows and LaBeouf stood out as an exceptionally talented actor with wonderful comedic timing, especially considering his young age (he was 13 at the time).
LaBeouf has the “it” for which so many stars are striving.
What is “it?” The “it” is when that actor is on screen or on stage, you have to watch them. You are drawn to them. Their performances are painfully honest. They exude such truthfulness and unpredictability and you have to watch to see what they’ll do next.
LaBeouf greatest talent, in my opinion, and the primary factor that he is so special as an actor is that he brings 100% pure, true emotions to every character he portrays and in every scene he’s in. That purity brings along with it a vulnerability that draws you in.
Whether he’s the frantic Louis Stevens in Even Stevens, the trapped Kale in Disturbia, the manipulated and underestimated Jerry in Eagle Eye, or the sympathetic Sam talking to a tranforming car about how much it means to him in Transformers, LaBeouf delivers a real character feeling real emotions in extraordinary circumstances.
You believe it because HE believes it.
LaBeouf never short changes his performance because of the material. He raises the material up because of his performance.
Watch Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (yes, just one more time, for research not for entertainment, obviously) and notice how honest he delivers his performance.
He’s the ONLY character in the film that takes the dangers and challenges in the plot as if they really mattered, were really true and had actual consequences. He’s the only character with heart in an otherwise empty film.
Everyone else was playing like they were in an Indiana Jones movie. LaBeouf, as the young Mutt Williams, actually lived in the world of the Indiana Jones movie.
I hope LaBeouf continues to grow as an actor, offering us more layers, more dimensions and more great performances.
I hope he remains one of those special actors that has “it” for decades to come.