Franco 'empathises' with LaBeouf
9:24am Friday 21st February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
James Franco has defended Shia LaBeouf following the actor's recent bizarre behaviour.
Shia has been in the headlines as a result of his plagiarism scandal and subsequent performance art installation, for walking out of a press conference for Nymphomaniac and for his declaration that he isn't famous any more - a slogan he wrote on a paper bag which he then wore on his head for a premiere.
Now James has written an opinion piece in the New York Times in which he admitted he empathised with Shia.
The star begins the essay - titled Why Actors Act Out - by saying that as an actor and artist he's "inclined to take an empathetic view" of Shia's conduct.
He continued: "This behaviour could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness. For Mr LaBeouf's sake I hope it is nothing serious. Indeed I hope - and, yes, I know that this idea has pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones - that his actions are intended as a piece of performance art, one in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona."
James likened Shia to Marlon Brando, pointing out: "Actors have been lashing out against their profession and its grip on their public images since at least Marlon Brando. Brando's performances revolutionised American acting precisely because he didn't seem to be 'performing', in the sense that he wasn't putting something on as much as he was being. Off-screen he defied the studio system's control over his image, allowing his weight to fluctuate, choosing roles that were considered beneath him and turning down the Oscar for best actor in 1973.
"These were acts of rebellion against an industry that practically forces an actor to identify with his persona while at the same time repeatedly wresting it from him."
James also admitted he'd had times when he "felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image".
In conclusion, he said he hoped Shia's project was a "worthy" one.
He said: "Mr LaBeouf has been acting since he was a child, and often an actor's need to tear down the public creation that constrains him occurs during the transition from young man to adult. I think Mr LaBeouf's project, if it is a project, is a worthy one. I just hope that he is careful not to use up all the good will he has gained as an actor in order to show us that he is an artist."