From a publicity standpoint, Shia LaBeouf may have made two big mistakes this week. The first was obvious: In a new cover story interview with Details, he confessed that he slept with his Transformers co-star Megan Fox, and when asked if that liaison happened while Fox was with her longtime beau Brian Austin Green, LaBeouf heavily implied that it did. Awkward. But as far as we’re concerned, LaBeouf said something more unforgivable last night while on the red carpet with Access Hollywood: “I just turned 25, and I’m learning how to edit myself and say ‘no comment’ now.” This is a terrible idea! Celebrity candor can be a good thing, and Shia LaBeouf is one of the last practitioners of it that we’ve got left.
In an era when TMZ cameramen goad stars into acting out on tape, the Internet pounces on every misstatement (guilty!), and a juicy quote can burn through the blogosphere in no time flat, it’s rare that a celebrity authentically speaks his mind, and it’s not at all uncommon for a star’s PR rep to sit in on her client’s interview, ensuring that no one will ask or answer anything that’s even slightly provocative. In fact, magazines will conduct entire cover stories using the publicist as a de facto middle man and interviewee: Just take a look at the high-end publications that published “interviews” with Britney Spears for her new album, despite the fact that they only received her answers via e-mail, after a publicist had finely crafted them. (That sort of thing has become so widespread that only Carson Daly, of all people, raised any objections to it.)
And that’s why we need to hold on to our Shias, our Megans, our Mickeys, and our Heigls. Though Megan Fox might be pissed at LaBeouf for divulging their hookup, she’s got a history of speaking her mind to the press, too (it even contributed to her firing from Transformers). Meanwhile, when LaBeouf, Mickey Rourke, and Katherine Heigl badmouth their own projects — projects that, it should be noted, have already been blasted and poorly reviewed by the press — the press then turns on them and demands an apology. At least when Rourke gave us a mea culpa after dissing his movie with Fox, Passion Play, he eventually thought, Screw that, and continued to amusingly talk shit.
Sure, celebrities who say something racist or homophobic should expect some blowback, but are we really going to punish celebrities for admitting that a movie didn’t turn out so well, or for oversharing about a relationship you know you want to hear more about, or for dropping the occasional weird detail about their sex lives? (We’ll watch the sex tape and seek out screen captures of their sex scenes, but when a celebrity admits to something salacious on “Howard Stern,” suddenly it’s TMI?) Harrison Ford implied in the Details interview that LaBeouf was a “fucking idiot” for talking out of turn about the last Indiana Jones movie … forgetting, perhaps, that he famously said of his Star Wars dialogue, “You can write this shit, George, but you sure can’t say it.” And frankly, we prefer a celebrity who can say exactly that.