On paper, it presumably sounded like a winning ticket. Hot young Hollywood heartthrob Shia LaBeouf makes his Broadway debut alongside veteran Alec Baldwin (still a heartthrob to many). The play? Lyle Kessler’s Orphans. The previews? Less than a month away. What could possibly go wrong?
The answer, apparently, is plenty. According to The Hollywood Reporter, director Daniel Sullivan “became worried” about LaBeouf’s “performance choices” shortly before the Transformers star left the production.
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But the 26-year-old actor wasn’t about to go quietly into the New York night. He’s since tweeted an Orphans audition video and screenshots of what he said were email exchanges between himself and Sullivan, Baldwin and Kessler. LaBeouf actually apologized to Baldwin “for my part of a dis-agreeable [sic] situation,” which elicited the following response from Sullivan.
I’m too old for disagreeable situations. you’re one hell of a great actor. Alec is who he is. you are who you are. you two are incompatible. i should have known it. this one will haunt me. you tried to warn me. you said you were a different breed. i didn’t get it.
A further screenshot of an email, allegedly from Baldwin to Labeouf, even seems to offer a measure of reassurance.
I’ve been through this before. It’s been a while. And perhaps some of the particulars are different. But it comes down to the fact that what we all do now is critical. Perhaps especially for you. When the change comes, how do we handle it, whether it be good or bad? What do we learn? I don’t have an unkind word to say about you. You have my word.
LaBeouf’s purported response was slightly shorter: “same. … good luck on the play. you’ll be great.”
But Baldwin has now told the New York Times how “very disappointed” he is with LaBeouf for airing the emails, because, “you expect communications to be private, because everyone wants this process to be as collegial as possible. Everyone is very sad about what’s happened.”
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The revival of Kessler’s 1983 play officially opens on April 7 at the Schoenfeld Theatre, with the Times reporting that actor Ben Foster (3:10 to Yuma, The Messenger and the HBO series Six Feet Under) has replaced LaBeouf.