In a bizarre, compelling, and at times heart-breaking interview with Esquire, actor Shia LaBeouf discussed a horrific incident that occurred when he was nine years old which he says is the root of his defensiveness and a lingering source of PTSD: the rape of his mother.
In his lengthy discussion with Esquire's Eric Sullivan, the enigmatic and troubled LaBeouf was painfully honest about public perception of him following a series of unhinged antics and at times alarming actions over the last few years.
"I'm a buffoon. My public outbursts are failures. They’re not strategic," he said. "They’re a struggling motherf***er showing his ass in front of the world."
"I've got to look at my failures in the face for a while," said the actor. "I need to take ownership of my sh** and clean up my side of the street a bit before I can go out there and work again, so I’m trying to stay creative and learn from my mistakes. I’ve been falling forward for a long time. Most of my life. The truth is, in my desperation, I lost the plot."
In his lengthy talk with Sullivan, LaBeouf addressed some of the sources of his bizarre and at times violent behavior. In perhaps the most shocking moment of the interview, the actor recounted witnessing the rape of his mother, Shayna, when he was just nine. Sullivan reports:
By the time LaBeouf was nine, things got worse. Their landlord, sick of all the sewing machines Shayna kept in their apartment, had kicked them out. They’d found a place in Tujunga, the biker-gang capital of the San Fernando Valley. Before Jeffrey [Shia's father] left for a stint in rehab, he asked Dave, a biker who lived next door, to keep an eye on LaBeouf and his mother.
It didn’t help. One day, LaBeouf overheard a man raping his mother. “I froze,” he tells me, pausing. “The man ran out, and my mom ran after him. Dave came running over. I remember he had a crossbow.” By then, the rapist had fled. During a counseling session at the sheriff’s office, LaBeouf listened as his mother recounted her attacker’s appearance. “It was the first time I ever heard the word pubic,” he says. “That’s how she described his facial hair. The next day at school, I told some kid that his hair looked like pubic hair, and I remember getting in trouble. They never found the guy."
LaBeof said that when he went to rehab last year, they diagnosed him with a form of PTSD. "He says he now understands that the violence toward his mother that he witnessed, that he could not prevent, is the reason for his defensiveness, his own hair-trigger for violence," writes Sullivan
"The first time I got arrested with a real charge, it stemmed from the same sh**," said LaBeouf. "Some guy bumped into my mother’s car with his car in a parking lot, and my head went right to ‘You need to avenge your mother!' So I went after the dude with a knife."
Sullivan notes that the actor thankfully didn't end up using the knife, but also notes that LaBeouf went out and bought a gun as soon as he was able and "to this day, he sleeps with it."
Another major source of his anger issues, suggested LaBeouf, was his alcoholic father. "[A] lot of my shit has to do with my relationship with my dad. That dude is my gasoline," he said.