In conversation with Rönkkö & Turner, the actor-turned-performance artist opens up about his three-day movie marathon
For his latest project, Hollywood actor-turned-performance art provocateur Shia LaBeouf rented out a small cinema in New York for a 72-hour, 29-film movie marathon. Of his own movies. Throughout the three-day long project, LaBeouf laughed, slept, clapped, cheered, buried his face in his hands, ate popcorn and ate pizza, sparking a thousand memes in the process. While some naysayers and art snobs predictably scoffed at the idea, the performance was thought-provoking in the way it allowed for an interaction with the artist, and spoke about the nature of human collectivity and connection. The day after #ALLMYMOVIES drew to a close, LaBeouf and his two collaborators Rönkkö & Turner were joined by NewHive co-founder and CEO Zach Verdin to reflect on the event.
Here are the best bits from this intimate conversation.
HOW HE FELT AT THE BEGINNING
A three-day movie marathon is a big journey to embark upon, especially when you star in every single one of those movies – so it naturally, LaBeouf experienced a sense of trepidation at the beginning. “I’ve never felt more alone than when this project started,” he admits. “Even with #IAMSORRY I had a bag mask. With this there was nowhere to go. When it started there was no light at the end of the tunnel…three days I mean you’re in there forever. I honestly didn’t know if I would make it through.”
WHAT HE WORRIED ABOUT BEFOREHAND
It’s quite common for us to worry that people won’t like us and LaBeouf is no different. He thought people would throw popcorn at him during this performance, aside from other things. “Yeah, I always go into these things every time—and this is my self-hate at work — what if they light my hair on fire?...But this is a genuine fear of mine. I think people hate me. That’s just what goes on in my head. And all I want to do is be liked.”
THE REASON WE YAWN
Apparently Rönkkö hadn’t heard of Even Stevens Movie before meeting LaBeouf and yet she felt a sense of nostalgia while watching the movie. LaBeouf likens this experience of emotional empathy or, as Rönkkö puts it, “synching of emotions” to contagious yawning. “There’s no intellectual explanation for why when you yawn I yawn. There’s something magical that goes down. I’m sure there’s a science but there’s also something beyond science.”
WHY HE REALLY FELL ASLEEP
As you may have seen from the memes that have been quick to spread across social media, LaBeouf fell asleep during the project. However this wasn’t for the reason that you’d expect. “When the movies started getting shit and they knew that I felt it too, it was the shared secret that we all had…not just because I’m in it…I’m in the same boat as you, I’m a viewer in this and this is hard for me to watch too. In fact, I’m gonna go take a nap ‘cause I hate myself, not ‘cause I’m tired, but because I’m dying right now. And nobody had a problem with that.”
ON THE EVEN STEVENS MOVIE
“The Even Stevens Movie was interesting, it’s all of our childhood. It’s mine and it’s yours. It wasn’t just me smiling like that. If you look at the freeze frames, everyone is smiling like wow, I remember Beans. I remember that stupid-ass song. We were all looking at our yearbook together and we’re all in the yearbook. It felt like family, we were sitting there like a high school class. These are strangers, people I never met before. You don’t leave a museum friends with people...The goal walking in is to highlight the connectivity of the networks.”
ON THE SEXISM, RACISM AND HOMOPHOBIA OF DUMB AND DUMBER
“We were all feeling it,” he puts simply. “There wasn’t one person in that movie who didn’t feel it.”
ON THE ELITISM OF THE FILM INDUSTRY
Several times in the interview, LaBeouf and his collaborators discuss the elitism of the art world. However, as LaBeouf asserts, it’s an attitude prevalent in the film industry too. “The movie world is just as elitist. I get emails from people in the movie world, people telling me, “You gotta maintain mystery.”…but truth will always find its way out there. Sincerity is the new punk rock.”
WHAT THE PROJECT DID FOR HIS SENSE OF SELF-HATE
Despite battling with those negative feelings beforehand, afterwards it was clear that the effects of the project were entirely positive. “I walked out loving myself,” he says. “Not in some grandiose, you’re fucking awesome way, but in like, you’re a part of a community. You’re a part of this human thing. You’re in this human thing. I’ve always felt as though, ‘I’m just an animal in this human thing. And I’ll play the human game. I’ll wear the human mask.’ But coming out of there, it’s the first time I’ve actually felt part of this — it was very humanizing for me. I walked out loving myself.”
ON LIFE POST #ALLMYMOVIES
All in all, the experience has been an extremely positive one for LeBeouf – something he stresses. “I can’t articulate how big this was. I don’t even know yet. All I know is I feel the weight of it. I’m walking through the streets and I’m smiling, like a cartoon character…”
Read the full interview here.