The decision to dump Megan Fox from Transformers 3 underscores the perils of slamming your franchise and filmmakers if you’re a thesp. Promoting Wall Street 2 in Cannes, LaBeouf hasn’t been as recklessly critical as his now former co-star. But Hollywood executives I talked to feel that Shia was disrespectful when he proclaimed publicly (and truthfully) that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull basically sucked even though he starred in it. The 23-year-old did take some responsibility (“The actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault”). But he told reporters that “when you drop the ball, you drop the ball… You can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven. I’ll probably get a call. But he needs to hear this…”
Is this kid now seriously lecturing a directing legend who gave him a shot at movie stardom in DreamWorks’ Disturbia when LaBeouf was known for little more than playing the goofy younger brother in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens? Yes, even though Spielberg is still involved with Transformers 3. And that’s when Whoopi Goldberg on The View yesterday took Shia to the woodshed. Whoopi, who worked with Spielberg on The Color Purple, said: “Really, Shia. Really? How come you [don’t] just make a phone call to Steven and discuss it. There’s no class. If he had an issue with Steven, he needed to call Steven. You don’t go public with that. You don’t do it with anybody. It’s rude. The guy gave you a job. And jobs are hard to come by.”
Indeed, actors lucky enough to sign on for tentpoles make a bargain that could hardly be called Faustian. They’re overpaid to star in silly movies whose global grosses allow the actors to make films they really care about. What they’re not supposed to do in return for all that moolah is trash those hits and their directors. Modern-day movie stars like Will Smith, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sandra Bullock, Tom Hanks, Julia Roberts, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, and Tom Cruise all follow that golden rule. And while George Clooney admitted his short stint as Batman was a failure, he blamed himself and not helmer Joel Schumacher. Executives today have little sympathy for Megan Fox, who bombed in Jennifer’s Body and now has a lot riding on Jonah Hex. And the unfortunate fact, be it sexism or whatever, is that Megan who just plays the girlfriend in Transformers didn’t get a pass and Shia who plays the lead did. But those suits also feel LaBeouf’s comments could potentially hurt his career. Sure, Shia’s and Megan’s candor helps their street cred and makes great copy for the media. And controversy can sell movie tickets. But violating Hollywood protocol is a dangerous game to play. Megan learned that today. Will Shia learn it tomorrow?