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James Franco appears at a press conference for the film Homefront on Nov. 17, 2013. / Shia LaBeouf appears at the 64th Berlin Film Festival on Feb. 9, 2014. - Provided courtesy of MUNAWAR HOSAIN /startraksphoto.com  / Aurore Marechal/Abaca/startraksphoto.com

Shia LaBeouf's behavior spurs James Franco op-ed

02/20/2014 by Kristina Lopez

James Franco analyzes Shia LaBeouf's recent behavior in a new op-ed featured in The New York Times.

The piece, which is titled "Why Actors Act Out, was printed in the newspaper on Wednesday, Feb. 20. In it, Franco brings up LaBeouf's plagiarism controversy, the time the 27-year-old actor wore a paper bag on his head at the Berlin Film Festival and LaBeouf's participation in the #IAMSORRY art exhibit.

"This behavior could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness," Franco writes in his op-ed. "For Mr. LaBeouf's sake I hope it is nothing serious."

"Indeed I hope -- and, yes, 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 adds.

Franco, 35, cites multiple examples of other actors defying expectations and industry norms in order to undermine or change the public's perception of them, like Marlon Brando turning down an Oscar or when Joaquin Phoenix claimed he was quitting acting to become a hip-hop artist, only to have that experience documented in the 2010 film "I'm Still Here."

The "Spring Breakers" star even writes about his own attempt to disrupt the entertainment industry's expectations and explains why he signed on to appear on several episodes of "General Hospital" at a time when he was getting awards and praise for his acting in high-profile film projects.

Franco writes of his choice to do the soap opera, "...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."

He also makes note of the fact that LaBeouf is a former child star and may be acting out in order to be viewed as a serious actor.

"Mr. LaBeouf has been acting since he was a child, and often an actor's need to tear down the public creation that constrains him occurs during the transition from young man to adult," Franco writes. "I think Mr. LaBeouf's project, if it is a project, is a worthy one. I just hope that he is careful not to use up all the good will he has gained as an actor in order to show us that he is an artist."

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