James Franco on Shia LaBeouf: 'Why Actors Act Out'

By ANTOINETTE BUENO

February 20, 2014

From one eccentric actor to the next.

James Franco, known for his own unconventional choices when it comes to his career, is commenting on Shia LaBeouf's recent bizarre antics in a New York Times opinion piece, explaining why actors often feel the need to "act out."

"Though the wisdom of some of his actions may seem questionable, as an actor and artist I’m inclined to take an empathetic view of his conduct," he writes. " ... 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."

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Franco cites his own questionable choices, explaining his need to disassociate himself from his work and public image.

"In 2009, when I joined the soap opera General Hospital at the same time as I was working on films that would receive Oscar nominations and other critical acclaim, my decision was in part an effort to jar expectations of what a film actor does and to undermine the tacit — or not so tacit — hierarchy of entertainment."

He also laments the actor's position when it comes to his or her own films.

"As an actor, you are often in the uncomfortable position of being the most visible part of a project while having the least amount of say over its final form," he explains. " ... Our personas can feel at the mercy of forces far beyond our control. Our rebellion against the hand that feeds us can instigate a frenzy of commentary that sets in motion a feedback loop: acting out, followed by negative publicity, followed by acting out in response to that publicity, followed by more publicity, and so on. ... Believe me, this game of peek-a-boo can be very addictive."

Not surprisingly, he supports LaBeouf's "project."

"I think Mr. LaBeouf’s project, if it is a project, is a worthy one," he writes. "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."

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Read his full piece here.



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