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Cannes 2010: Shia LaBeouf: We botched the last Indiana Jones

May 15, 2010 |  3:48 pm

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


Photo: Shia LaBeouf and Harrison Ford in "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." Credit: Paramount Pictures.


Photos: Scene at Cannes Film Festival 2010

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Comments () | Archives (61)

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Firstly, Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls wasn't so terrible. Sure, it wasn't exactly great, but it wasn't downright awful, either. Secondly, it wasn't Shia's fault--he's going hard on himself. It wasn't the actor's fault at all. It was the screenwriters' faults. The script was just a bit ridiculous in places. I thought Shia (and H. Ford) were great throughout. The actors aren't to blame.

But hey, among all the actors who put down their past movies, this has to be the classiest way I've seen it done yet.

Steve, you really expect him or any actor once they've completed production on a film, to immediately start knocking it? NOBODY does that, and if they did, it would be career suicide. And seriously, is it their job to tell you which movies to see? Look at the posts here and the reviews - obviously not everyone agrees with him. Give the kid credit for saying anything at all, since most actors are too afraid to ever speak out.

I've always liked LaBeouf and even though his acting can be hit-or-miss at times, as a normal guy he seems extremely genuine. He's good when he's in roles he wants to be in and he's honest when he needs to make an honest point. I think that's a pretty unique image for a young Hollywood actor.

Come on. This guy has NO talent, Spielburg got him his career. He hasn't even earned his career. Just because he is friends with Spielburg he can be in any movie. Move on, there are better actors out there, this guy does nothing but stutter in his "performances." Spielburg, what have you become?

While his points are not entirely without merit, I think LaBeouf has dramatically overestimated his contribution to the film. It would be like saying "Short Round" could have worked harder and made the second film better. Personally, I like the latest Indiana Jones film. The one with Sean Connery was better, but nearly everything is better with Sean Connery. I suppose some will consider him brave for speaking out, but I think he just burned himself in the world of big-budget blockbusters. He believes $787 million doesn't equate to a film being "universally accepted," which means he doesn't understand the industry he's in. I wish him luck in the independent features he'll now be reduced to co-starring in.

I think Shia LaBeouf should be ashamed of himself. While he's entitled to his own opinions, his comments about Indy IV, frankly, reek of arrogance. He pretends to speak on behalf of the Indiana Jones fanbase as if we were all disappointed by the last film. On the contrary, the film was embraced by the public and by the critics. Nothing is going to be universally accepted and there are always going to be detractors (especially for a franchise this large and where the hype and expectations are huge). Steven Spielberg didn't "drop the ball." That's nonsense. Mr. LaBeouf is only adding fuel to the fire and only encouraging the most hyperbolic feelings that are out there among the internet fringe. Is it thin skin that prompted Shia LaBeouf to make these comments? Having read some nasty and mean-spirited comments about the film and his performance, is he now caving in to peer pressure? It's particularly troubling when someone like Shia LaBeouf, a multi-millionaire, goes on numerous television shows to promote his movies and to encourage the public to spend their hard earned cash when their heart isn't even in these projects. If you don't like the movies you're in, please, by all means, don't go on television to promote them and then years later start apologizing. People like it when actors/directors are enthusiastic about their work. They don't like snitches or people who play "the blame game."

You don't speak for me, Shia LaBeouf, and you don't speak for the Indy fanbase. Your comments are laughable. Keep biting the hand that feeds you. I might be seeing you in the unemployment line pretty soon.

Something stinks here. Spielberg has already said that if they do another Indy movie it would not have LaBeouf in it and that they were disappointed with his work. I don't find LaBeouf's praise of the man who gave him his career as very sincere. Rather I think his criticisms are sour grapes and reflect a falling out between the two.

the aliens werent silly, the writting was horrid. the music was poor. john williams music sucked along with the star wars prequels, much like danny elfman, williams needs a comback (williams one of my favorite composers of the 20th century).

mayan pyramids without aliens would have failed. indy is best with the great original raiders music , lots of tongue in cheek humor and cliffhangers up the wazoo. action films today really need to return to action heroes with humor, it makes heroes rootable.
its what sequels need to carry on from the greats of the original star wars and indiana jones who rebirthed sequel making. also needed was more of a tie in with the 1st other than ripping off the firsts story (dont look hide your eyes). movie franchises like indy, star wars, star trek, terminator, bond, superman, batman all need to stop dropping terrific musical scores wich is a large part of why thier sequels end up sucking. perhaps also making them
more for adults will help since adults are the majority who watch these films.

it wasnt just shia's fault, writing and music needed work. he bonds with the dad too late and thier isnt enough humor between them. they needed to blend 1 and 3 together with action and a buddy movie comedy.
props to him admiting suckage for transformer 2 and indy 4. my respect for him greatly went up, its sad that more major actors dont admit when they make sucky movies and try and learn from thier mistakes. indy's best with christian artifacts and nazi's maybe they need to return to that somehow.

they really needed sallah back in addition to karen allen as hes doing scifi channel movies after lotr, im sure he could use the work lol.

"If I was going to do it twice, my career was over. So this was fight-or-flight for me."

I guess he forgot all about transformers 1 & 2

I have to applaud Shia for expressing his opinions publicly. That's a big risk for any rising young star. I really doubt this is some publicity stunt or some way for him to garner some street cred with the online populace as some have suggested in the forums. This can backfire big-time and make him seem like more trouble than he is worth, especially if WS2 tanks. Regardless of his intentions, it was refreshing for an actor to say that the director (Spielberg), the writers, his acting, and the movie itself failed or "universally unaccepted." You can't exactly call a movie that made >$786 million worldwide a failure though, so I'll go with unaccepted.

I think Shia was way too hard on himself. Shia had very little to do with why many believed that the KOTCS reeked. Well, I can only speak for myself, so I do not believe Shia had anything to do with why I thought KOTCS had so many problems.

One. I thought that both Harrison Ford and Karen Allen's acting were really bad in general. They lacked the charm, swagger, and energy of Indie and Marion of old, and it seemed like they haven't acted in a really long time ... yes, I know they haven't. They had absolutely no chemistry with each other. Maybe the writing/directing is partially to blame in this area. I wish Ford had done another film before this one to get some of the acting rust off. Shia's acting was fine, but honestly, I didn't like the whole Indie Jr. idea at all. There has to be better reasons as to why he needs to exist. When I first heard this movie was happening and that he had a kid, I was hoping he would be similar to his father in Last Crusade - charming, passionate, and a little cranky. Or at least have a more interesting spin on his son. The whole rebel without a cause is played out and I don't think Shia can pull that off ... he's just too likable.

Two. The story and screenplay went past fantastic and into the ridiculous. Even though pt1-3 were all very fantastic tales, I was pulled into the story so it didn't matter. For those 80s movies, they knew how far they could push it. In KOTCS they did not. Swinging on vines? I didn't have a problem with the idea of discovering aliens though. As one other poster mentioned, it's not more fantastic than God, the Ark, or pulling someone's heart out. The difference is that those stories were better written and executed. For instance, I could care less if the Russians got a hold of alien tech. I can always "hate" the Nazi, but the Russians aren't "our enemy" anymore ... the Cold War is over, so why should the audience care? Plus, the characters didn't stay true to what I know and love of Indie. Domesticating Dr. Jones by getting him married really didn't work for me. I like happy endings but it really seemed like lazy, unimaginative writing to me. Also, if you have to have a wedding, try to make it more memorable and interesting. Have Shortround and others from the past present.

Three. Effects and sets/props were pretty sub-par. It certainly didn't help with believability when the crystal skull looked plastic and something you could buy from Walmart during Halloween. And the CGI just didn't work for me at all, i.e the jeep chase scene. I knew it was CGI the moment it was on and it took me completely out of the movie and reduced any feeling of jeopardy to ZERO. I've always love the practical stunts of pt1-3 - one of the signatures of a Indiana Jones movie.

Four. Uninspired Directing. There was never a sense of danger and none of the action scenes were terribly exciting. I actually still find the old Indie movies fun and thrilling. The only scene I thought was fun was the beginning when Indie meets Mutt for the first time ... yes, it was silly, but at least it got a good chuckle out of me and had good energy to it. I think it's because it reminded me of Back to the Future.

Documentary found on Crystal Skull DVD:

This basically confirms for me that Spielberg wasn't inspired at all to do this movie, and how a lot of the really bad ideas came from Lucas. If another IJ films is in the works, please get a director who is actually excited about the project, keep Lucas far far away, get Lawrence Kasdan back or someone good like the 1981 version of him, and use practical effects.

Oh well, it doesn't matter what I think. The box-office proves different and that's all that matters to people like Lucas nowadays.

Thats very smart I wonder who told him to do that? Dis Indiana Joes, sort of take responsibility for it, sort of ask for forgiveness, then hit them with Wall St will be better. I promise. Smooth move kid.

He's an alright actor. But works best in not so serious type movies.

He was simply miscast in Indiana Jones. The new jones was nothing like the gritty, manly Indiana Jones movies of the past.

Shia, you need a crash course in economics my friend... Your numbers are just a tad off...

I saw all the Indy film's and never saw the fourth one. Nor will I likely ever see it... That tell's you how much I want to see it. I appreciate Shia's honesty. BUT frankly I have never gotten Shia's designation as a STAR. Transformer 2 suxed but I knew that going in with Michael Bay directing. Watch Pearl harbor and watch Pacific 10 hour mini series on HBO see how lame Pearl is... I will never forget Tom Hanks lambasting Pearl on set of film he was making when he found out part of crew worked on Pearl.

The aliens where fine, it was the silly action sequences (vine swinging with monkeys!?) and way too much cgi that ruined the movie.

Can't help but like the guy? In every interview I've seen or heard since "I, Robot", he's come across as a narcissistic little jerk. Can't STAND him. That isn't talent you're brimming with, Shia. It's BS. Indy 4 was an OK (not great) film, and he was by far the worst thing in it, "nuclear fridge" notwithstanding.

I applaud Shia's honesty and for not trying to B.S. people about the obviously ham handed treatment of Indy 4. I'll bet Spielberg blushes a little bit if/when he reads this interview, but I'm sure he's enough of a man to know deep inside that Shia's right on a lot of levels.

To be honest, I don't think it was altogether necessary for him to should so much blame in regards to his acting ability in the film. I think he portrayed the character as it was written. It was just written very poorly.

And his bit about the American financial system is hilariously on the "money". He's twice as insightful as any man on the street.

And I'm not even that big of a Shia Labouf fan.

"Something stinks here. Spielberg has already said that if they do another Indy movie it would not have LaBeouf in it and that they were disappointed with his work. I don't find LaBeouf's praise of the man who gave him his career as very sincere. Rather I think his criticisms are sour grapes and reflect a falling out between the two." -DougP
Dude, I do not know where you're getting your info, but it is waaaay off. Harrison Ford just said a few months ago that Indy 5 would likely address the Mutt-Indy relationship. Knowing what you're talking about is always a plus before you comment.
People's negativity to his comments are exactly why actors are not honest. The article clearly points out how honest Shia is several times, but honesty is often misinterpreted as arrogance when communicated through print media. But if you actually READ the comments before formulating your judgement, you would notice that he basically just says that they misread the audience. He's not saying anyone half-assed it (although it felt that way to me) or that anyone was incompetent. In all honesty, Shia seemed like one of the few who wasn't phoning it in. The Indy-Marion reunion was rushed, and I could have forgiven the monkeys if not for the freakin ALIENS!!! And really, Spielberg and company should use this as a launching pad for the "we can do better which is why we're making an Indy 5" campaign rather than make Shia apologize and take the "Indy 4 was flawless" route.

Every movie he's been in has sucked. He's already apologized for transformers, now Indy...guess he'll be apologizing for the rest of his career. How about quit apologizing, quit acting, and fall off the planet. I've seen better acting on the animal channel.

I agree that the dimensional creatures (not aliens, right Mr. Lucas?) were too far out there, even for an Indy flick. But from the moment the Paramount mountain morphed into that gopher mound, I knew I was going to enjoy myself and I did. Did I think Shia was a weak link? Yes. But I don't think he was so awful that the movie flopped. Far from it. Buddy, talk like this makes it that much harder for anyone to mount the next one and I for one would love to see another adventure. If you think you were not up to snuff then work harder next time.

I liked the movie. 2 hrs entertainment for $6.50 can't argue with that.

A very refreshing interview! It is rare, to come across a young, up and coming star who is brave enough to say what is what! What's more ... actually bring light to the faltering of some of the masters of the hollywood universe. The Indiana Jones series in my opinion was totally botched by the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull ... but I point the finger at George Lucas for this mess. It was always his desire to include the Crystal Skull legend into the Indiana Jones franchise. As for the misguided hostile criticism of young Mr. Shia LaBeouf, I personally think he is one of the better emerging leading actors around and in time expect to see him take on the mantle of a Tom Hanks. Shia is able to play the everyman effortlessly and has proven that he can deliver dramatic, comedic and action performances as the films lead - only very few performers have been able to do this . . . Think about it!

I think it's refreshing to see an actor of his age who actually gets it in terms of what's happening with the world's economic situation. I design retirement plans for an insurance company, and I can't find people in the financial services industry who can explain the recent turmoil as well as Shia just did.

As for Indy 4, I think this movie, and the previous sequels all have their faults (Raiders being the exception), but it was still an enjoyable return for Indy. Shia was good in his role, as a wannabe tough guy who wasn't really tough, and the horrific swings with Monkeys thing wasn't his fault.

They really should have tightened up the script better before starting. Having seen the "making of" documentaries for all the films, they're basically a series of action sequences George Lucas and/or Spielberg want to see, with a script being created to loosely tie them together. I'm guessing the swinging monkey thing was on Lucas' wish list.

I hope they go forward with Indy 5, and make an enjoyable romp for all indy fans.

He is absolutely right about the movie. Everybody seemed to phone in their performances, and the plot was paper thin. It was carried on the memory of the first, and it suffered from the high expectation that was not met. We all liked it as we like seeing our old car from high school -- except we know that no car company could ever make money trying to sell an old car again as new. Nostalgia is not enough. I hope they carried that thought into the Wall Street sequel.

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