Shia LaBeouf Talks Giving Up Alcohol

By Victoria Kim 09/08/16

“I start drinking and I feel smaller than I am, and I get louder than I should. It’s just not for me, dude.”

Shia LaBeouf Talks Giving Up Alcohol

It may seem like ages ago when Shia LaBeouf seemed to be on top of the world. In his twenties, he was already working with Steven Spielberg on the fourth Indiana Jones and was the face of the Transformers film franchise. 

But that quickly devolved into a slew of arrests—including six months of court-ordered outpatient alcohol rehab—and LaBeouf became a media spectacle, another “troubled” actor making the front pages for his erratic behavior.

But now, he is reinventing himself yet again, this time on his own terms. In a recent interview, the 30-year-old actor told Variety about the circumstances that led to his downward spiral, and how he has been recovering from that time in his life.

LaBeouf, whose career began with the Disney Channel series Even Stevens, says he never felt at home with the Disney brand. He and his friends “were outsiders,” he said. “It felt distant.” LaBeouf talked about his humble beginnings in Echo Park, where he was raised by his mother. “We didn’t have nothing. So I would steal Pokemon video games and Tamagotchis,” he said. He was first arrested in grade school for stealing a pair of Nikes.

While filming Even Stevens, LaBeouf lived with his father in a hotel, and recalled that “there were drugs everywhere—marijuana, cocaine, heroin. [My dad] gave me my first joint when I was probably 11 or 12.”

Fast forward to 2007, the year he broke through as a mainstream movie star with the release of Disturbia and the first Transformers film. The following year, he appeared in the much anticipated Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. But despite all the commercial success, LaBeouf said he felt disillusioned after working on the big budget movies, calling Spielberg “less a director than he is a fucking company” at that point in the director’s career. 

The barrage of negative reviews didn’t help either, and LaBeouf began drinking heavily. “Part of it was posturing. I never knew how to drink. I never liked to drink, but I knew you had to drink,” he told the magazine. “It was a weird post-modern fascination with the fuck-ups.”

After all the drama that came with his drinking, LaBeouf realized the effect that alcohol had on him. “I got a Napoleonic complex. I start drinking and I feel smaller than I am, and I get louder than I should. It’s just not for me, dude.”

He says he hasn’t had a drink for about a year now. He goes to AA meetings but doesn’t consider himself an addict. “You don’t touch it,” he said. “Alcohol or any of that shit will send you haywire. I can’t fuck with none of it. I’ve got to keep my head low.”

LaBeouf’s commitment to sobriety has coincided with a turnaround in his career. American Honey, which debuted at Cannes Film Festival in the spring, has so far been well received. And LaBeouf is currently shooting Borg vs. McEnroe, a film about the rivalry between tennis stars Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr