Shia LaBeouf disputed Olivia Wilde’s claim that she fired him

Shia LaBeouf participates in an audience Q&A during the 42nd Mill Valley Film Festival’s ‘Honey Boy’ premier in 2019 in Larksbur, California.
Shia LaBeouf participates in an audience Q&A during the 42nd Mill Valley Film Festival’s ‘Honey Boy’ premier in 2019 in Larksbur, California.

Shia LaBeouf is pushing back after Olivia Wilde claimed she fired the actor from her upcoming film, arguing the director changed the narrative to gain “social currency.”

During a recent interview with Variety, “Don’t Worry Darling” star and director Olivia Wilde revealed she initially hired LaBeouf to play the role of Jack Chambers, which later went to Harry Styles. But as production for the film began, Wilde said she opted to fire LaBeouf because his creative process “was not conducive to the ethos that I demand in my productions.”

“He has a process that, in some ways, seems to require a combative energy, and I don’t personally believe that is conducive to the best performances,” Wilde explained. “I believe that creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them. That was my job.”

But LaBeouf recalls a different narrative. The actor, in an email to Variety, shared an email he says he sent to Wilde on Wednesday in response to her interview, as well as text messages he says are between the two from August 2020.

“I am a little confused about the narrative that I was fired,” LaBeouf wrote in an email to Wilde on Wednesday. “You and I both know the reasons for my exit. I quit your film because your actors & I couldn’t find time to rehearse.”

According to texts LaBeouf shared with Variety, he and Wilde met in person on Aug. 16, 2020, to discuss his exit, after which Wilde texted: “Thanks for letting me in on your thought process. I know that isn’t fun. Doesn’t feel good to say no to someone, and I respect your honesty. I’m honored you were willing to go there with me, for me to tell a story with you. I’m gutted because it could have been something special. I want to make clear how much it means to me that you trust me. That’s a gift I’ll take with me.”

LaBeouf wrote in an email that he officially exited the film the next day.

“Firing me never took place, Olivia,” he wrote in the email to her. “And while I fully understand the attractiveness of pushing that story because of the current social landscape, the social currency that brings. It is not the truth. So I am humbly asking, as a person with an eye toward making things right, that you correct the narrative as best you can. I hope none of this negatively effects (sic) you, and that your film is successful in all the ways you want it to be.”

USA TODAY has reached out to LaBeouf and Wilde’s representatives for further comment.

LaBeouf has faced a bout of legal troubles in recent years, including charges of misdemeanour battery and petty theft stemming from an alleged altercation with a man in June 2020. In December of that same year, LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, British musician FKA twigs, sued him for repeated abuse and assaults — physical, emotional and mental — he allegedly inflicted in their nearly year-long relationship.

Wilde, in her interview, said LaBeouf’s subsequent legal troubles reaffirmed her casting decision.

“A lot came to light after this happened that really troubled me, in terms of his behaviour,” Wilde said. “I find myself just really wishing him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice. But for our film, what we really needed was an energy that was incredibly supportive.

“Particularly with a movie like this, I knew that I was going to be asking Florence (Pugh) to be in very vulnerable situations, and my priority was making her feel safe and making her feel supported.”

Though he won’t be in “Don’t Worry Darling,” LaBeouf’s career in Hollywood continues. In a moment of life imitating art, LaBeouf said he found a higher power while preparing to play a Catholic saint.

LaBeouf, who’s set to portray Italian priest Francesco Forgione — a.k.a. Padre Pio — in the upcoming biopic “Padre Pio,” opened up about his newfound relationship with Catholicism during an interview with Bishop Robert Barron published Thursday. The actor said his “life was on fire” prior to familiarizing himself with the religion.

“I didn’t want to be an actor anymore, and my life was a complete mess,” LaBeouf told Barron. “I had hurt a lot of people, and I felt deep shame and deep guilt.”

After connecting with “Padre Pio” director Abel Ferrara, LaBeouf shared he began staying at a seminary in San Lorenzo, California, living out of his car in the parking lot, to prepare for the role.

The Emmy-winning actor said while he was initially motivated by a desire to rehabilitate his career, he also looks back on the experience as a moment of divine intervention.

“I know now God was using my ego to draw me to Him, was drawing me away from worldly desires,” LaBeouf said. “It was all happening simultaneously. But there would have been no impetus for me to get in the car and drive up (to the monastery) if I didn’t think, ‘Oh, I’m gonna save my career.’”

LaBeouf said he’s found a sense of camaraderie in studying Catholicism that’s allowed him to reconcile with his own past.

“It was seeing other people who had sinned beyond anything I could even conceptualize also being found in Christ that made me feel like, ‘OK, that gives me hope,’” LaBeouf explained. “I started hearing experiences of other depraved people who had found their way in this, and it made me feel like I had permission.”

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