Shia LaBeouf’s silent interview
(CNN) — Leave it to Shia LaBeouf to give one of the strangest — or most creative — interviews of all time.
For a recent sitdown with Dazed and Confused magazine, the actor/performance artist decided that he didn’t want to use words to communicate and instead let his eyes do all the talking.
The result is an hour-long video in which LaBeouf and his interviewer, Aimee Cliff, sit and stare at each other in near silence. (No words are exchanged, but there is some awkward laughter.)
According to Cliff, this was all LaBeouf’s idea. He reached out to the Dazed writer in September, and the two soon struck up an email correspondence. In a series of exchanges, they cover topics including metamodernism, faith, cynicism and even a claim by LaBeouf that he was sexually assaulted during a performance art exhibit this year.
After a bit of back-and-forth, LaBeouf agreed to do what he calls “the #interview.”
“I like the idea that we meet in person with a go pro photographic record but no interview,” the actor wrote in one of his emails to Cliff. “we just look into each others eyes for an hour, connect on a soul level and film that as the interview and keep the words online so we will will both have go pro cameras strapped to our heads for the full hour and the footage will be presented raw as a split screen and you can use it on the Dazed video site.”
Indeed, the full video is now up and ready for viewing.
By doing it this way, “I’m present in the magazine only in words obtained digitally and online I’m present only through a mute physical presence,” LaBeouf concluded. “(A)nd the reality of my self lies somewhere between and beyond the two it’s thoroughly metamodern I think.”
While the video shows LaBeouf and Cliff in their staring competition, their emails are overflowing with language. At one point, LaBeouf opens up about his #IAmSorry performance art exhibit from this year, when he encouraged visitors to come and view him one-on-one in a small room.
Before seeing him, visitors were encouraged to pick up an item from a table of “implements,” which included things like a “Transformers” toy, a whip (he starred in 2008’s “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull”), Hershey’s kisses, a bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey, a bottle of cologne, pliers and a ukelele.
Once they stepped into the room with LaBeouf, they would sit across a table from the actor, who was wearing a paper bag over his head that read, “I AM NOT FAMOUS ANYMORE.”
LaBeouf has said that the art exhibit didn’t go the way he anticipated; he thought people were going to be rude or mean, but once they were face-to-face with him, there were more often displays of humanity.
“I went from being a celebrity or object to a fellow human,” LaBeouf said in his email exchange with Dazed. “(I)t happened in less than a second for some for others they needed to take the bag off but it usually happened and by ‘it’ i mean connection it was a very human encounter once it was 2 people in a room.”
The title of the project was a genuine reflection of how he felt at the time, LaBeouf continued.
“i was broken – it wasn’t manipulation – i was heartbroken and people I’ve never met before came in and loved on me and with me some for multiple days some would come in hold my hand and cry with me some would come in and tell me to ‘figure it out’ to ‘be a man’ in the end i felt cared for however it came – it was beautiful it blew me away I’ve never experienced love like that, empathy humanity, understanding”
Not every encounter was as exemplary in its kindness, though. There was one visitor whom LaBeouf alleges sexually assaulted him.
“one woman who came with her boyfriend who was out side the door when this happened whipped my legs for 10 minutes and then striped my clothing and proceeded to rape me then walked out with her lipstick smudged to her awaiting boyfriend who i image was quite hurt by it”
Not to mention LaBeouf’s girlfriend, who he said was in line to view his exhibition the same day this event happened.
“it really hurt her as well as i guess the news of it traveled through the line she was only about 25 people back when she came in she asked for an (explanation) and i couldn’t speak so we both sat with this unexplained trauma silently it was painful the hardest part of the show”
LaBeouf’s had a hard year overall, including legal trouble. In June, he was charged with disorderly conduct, harassment and criminal trespass after being accused of drunken and disruptive behavior in a Broadway venue. He spent a little time in jail, but the charges were settled on the grounds that LaBeouf would continue seeking treatment for alcohol addiction.
But with projects like #IAmSorry, LaBeouf said he’s seeking a sense of purpose.
“Im finding my self through these projects,” he explained to Dazed. “im exploring.”