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James Franco explains Shia LaBeouf in NYT opinion piece

by Jana Banin, JTA

February 20, 2014 | 2:17 pm

Actor Shia LaBeouf arrives on the red carpet to promote the movie "Nymphomaniac Volume I" on Feb. 9. Photo by Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

Actor Shia LaBeouf arrives on the red carpet to promote the movie "Nymphomaniac Volume I" on Feb. 9. Photo by Tobias Schwarz/Reuters

James Franco has added yet another couple of lines to his epic resume. It seems the film actor, soap opera star, professor, muralist, and selfie-master is now also a New York Times contributer and defender of erratic celebrities — in this case actor Shia LeBeouf.

In an opinion piece titled “Why Actors Act Out,” Franco analyzes LeBeouf’s recent antics, which include alleged plagiarism, plagiarized apologies for the alleged plagiarism, a skywritten apology for the alleged plagiarism, wearing a bag over his head at a movie premiere, and wearing a bag over his head and staring at people at an art show (also possible plagiarism).

Is LeBeouf nuts? Maybe. But one thing’s for sure, per Franco: The guy is artsy.

“…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,” Franco says, before going on to list other examples of actors who fought back against the industry’s control over their images. Like Marlon Brando, Juaquin Pheonix, and of course, James Franco.

“At times I have felt the need to dissociate myself from my work and public image,” he writes. “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.”

To Franco’s credit, the “General Hospital” stint was a pretty awesome way to stand up to the hierarchy of entertainment.  In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if LaBeouf pops up on mid-day TV sometime soon, too. Franco would surely be flattered. As he said himself, “I think Mr. LaBeouf’s project, if it is a project, is a worthy one.”

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