Shia LaBeouf has stepped back into the spotlight in a big way.
The actor's personal woes — including being accused of abuse by ex FKA twigs, who's suing him for sexual battery, sexual assault and inflicting emotional distress — made him persona non grata, but he's reemerged amid his career downslide. In the last 24 hours, he's broken his silence about the dark days around the abuse allegations and revealing he turned to religion — specifically Catholicism — to turn his life around. He's also taking on Olivia Wilde after the Don't Worry Darling director claimed this week that she fired from that film due to his "combative energy." He says he quit, providing texts and emails to make his case.
On Friday, the Transformers actor called out Wilde, denying he was fired as the film's production was starting in August 2020 and providing alleged emails and text exchanges between them in which she asked him to reconsider leaving the project.
"Firing me never took place, Olivia," LaBeouf wrote in a new email sent to Wilde and obtained by Variety in the wake of Wilde's interview claiming just that to the outlet days earlier. "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."
Wilde had said the actor was fired to keep the movie's star Florence Pugh "safe," and she wished "him health and evolution because I believe in restorative justice" amid the abuse allegations. LaBeouf's email to Wilde claims he "quit the film due to lack of rehearsal time" under the second-time director. He sent Wilde — and Variety — screenshots of their texts from August 2020 in which he said he would have to back out of the role of Jack. The role of Jack was later recast with Harry Styles, whom Wilde has been dating since fall 2020.
LaBeouf also turned over a video Wilde allegedly sent him two days after he claimed he quit in which she said she was "not ready to give up" and described herself as "heartbroken" over LaBeouf's decision. In the video, Wilde alluded to tension between LaBeouf and Pugh, who stars in the film as Alice, wife of the Jack character, saying, "I think this might be a bit of a wake-up call for Miss Flo" and talked about trying to get Pugh to "really commit" and put her "mind and heart into" the project" in an effort for the co-stars to "make peace." (Pugh is rumored to be unhappy with Wilde over the Don't Worry Darling production, but hasn't said so publicly. Wilde praised her in the Variety story.)
LaBeouf's email to Wilde also touched on his troubles with Twigs. He said Wilde claiming he was fired, when he says he wasn't, hurts him professionally as he attempts to "crawl out of the hole I have dug with my behaviors."
"My failings with Twigs are fundamental and real," he wrote, "but they are not the narrative that has been presented. There is a time and a place to deal with such things, and I am trying to navigate a nuanced situation with respect for her and the truth, hence my silence. But this situation with your film and my 'firing' will never have a court date with which to deal with the facts. If lies are repeated enough in the public they become truth. And so, it makes it that much harder for me to crawl out of the hole I have dug with my behaviors, to be able to provide for my family."
Within the email, he also described himself as "627 days" sober and confirmed he's married to Mia Goth, sharing they welcomed a daughter, Isabel, five months ago. He said he and his Nymphomaniac co-star "are journeying toward a healthy family with love and mutual respect."
LaBeouf wrote about his family to illustrate a similar point that Wilde made in her interview when discussing how her public custody dispute with ex Jason Sudeikis mostly hurts their children.
"I know that you are beginning your press run for DWD and that the news of my firing is attractive clickbait, as I am still persona non grata and may remain as such for the rest of my life," he wrote. "But, speaking of my daughter, I often think about the news articles she will read when she is literate. And though I owe, and will owe for the rest of my life, I only owe for my actions."
Just before LaBeouf took on Wilde over her firing claims, he sat for a newly-released interview, published Thursday, in which he talked about what has been a dark time for him since Twigs made her allegations. The singer's December 2020 court filing also contained allegations of abuse from Karolyn Pho, a stylist who LaBeouf dated from 2010 to 2011, claiming he inflicted physical and emotional abuse. Singer/director Sia also came forward to support Twigs's allegations, saying she was "hurt emotionally by Shia, a pathological liar, who conned me into an adulterous relationship." Around this time, LaBeouf also faced misdemeanor charges of battery and petty theft stemming from a June 2020 confrontation with an unidentified man. (He otherwise has a long history of arrests.)
LaBeouf said on Bishop Barron Presents, "I didn't want to be an actor anymore, and my life was a complete mess. I had hurt a lot of people, and I felt deep shame and deep guilt."
He said, "At this point I'm nuclear. Nobody wants to talk to me, including my mother. My manager's not calling. The agent's not calling. I'm not connected to the business any more." He said his "life was on fire" and "a mess."
He said it got really dark and he contemplated suicide.
"I had a gun on the table. I was outta here," he said. "I didn't want to be alive anymore when all this happened. Shame like I had never experienced before — the kind of shame that you forget how to breathe. You don't know where to go. You can't go outside and get, like, a taco." Luckily, he added, "I was also in this deep desire to hold on."
He alluded to "the woman who accused me of all this," saying he "wanted to go on Twitter and write all these things... I wanted to justify all this and explain. Now I see that… the woman saved my life. She was, for me, a saint in my life. She saved my life."
He said he's since let go of the "old me" and recognizes "my life had led to serious infliction of pain and damage on other people."
While studying for his role as a priest in biopic Padre Pio — which will premiere in competition in the Venice Days film festival which is in association with Venice Film Festival — he said he found religion and has since committed to Roman Catholicism while it is still new to him.
"The reach-out had happened. I was already there, I had nowhere to go," he said. "This was the last stop on the train."
LaBeouf continued, "I know now that God was using my ego to draw me to Him," he said. "Drawing me away from worldly desires. It was all happening simultaneously. But there would have been no impetus for me to get in my car, drive up [to the monastery] if I didn't think, 'Oh, I’m gonna save my career.'"
Amid the abuse allegations in 2020, LaBeouf told the New York Times, "I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me." However, he added that "many" of the allegations against him were untrue but he owed the women involved "the opportunity to air their statements publicly and accept accountability for those things I have done."
He entered treatment, including for his alcoholism, in the wake of the claims and lawsuit. He was also sentenced to court-ordered therapy and anger management for his battery case in 2021.
If you or someone you know are experiencing suicidal thoughts, call 911, or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line at 741741.