From Shia LaBeouf to James Franco: This is the redemption arc starter kit for Hollywood's 'cancelled' men.

This story mentions sexual abuse and domestic violence.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a famous man who falls publicly from grace - even for the gravest of transgressions - will not stay cancelled for long.

In fact, he'll have those transgressions forgotten much quicker than a famous woman in a similar position - or even a famous woman who had the misfortune of suffering a public nip-slip. Just ask Janet Jackson.

The time between an A-lister's cancellation and his inevitable redemption arc usually sits around three to five years, give or take a few - a fact that has been recently borne out by the sighting of not one but two formerly disgraced A-listers at a certain French film festival.

Watch: We lose one woman every week in Australia to domestic violence, but that's just the tip of a very grim iceberg. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

This week, both James Franco and Shia LaBeouf - Hollywood men briefly humbled by accusations of abuse or inappropriate behaviour  - reappeared at Cannes to promote their respective new film projects, even in the midst of France's own me too moment, #moi aussi.

Shia LaBeouf, who will face a lawsuit later this year brought against him by former partner, singer FKA Twigs, was in town to promote the Francis Ford Coppola film Megalopolis.


Shia LaBeouf at the Cannes Film Festival 2024. Image: Getty.

Twigs alleges she suffered "relentless" violence and intimidation. In the lawsuit, Twigs makes claims of sexual battery, alleging LaBeouf knowingly gave her an STD, head-butted her, threw her against a car and woke her up by choking her. Another of LaBeouf's ex-partners, stylist Karolyn Pho, is also included in the lawsuit, claiming the actor once pinned her to the bed and head-butted her.

James Franco, who in 2021 settled a lawsuit to pay USD2.2 million to women who accused him of sexual misconduct, is in Cannes to shop his new film, The Razor's Edge. He walked the red carpet for the Kings of Kindness premier, as well as attending the exclusive Nespresso party, making his French outing one of the actor's first public appearances since the accusations against him surfaced in 2018.


James Franco at the Cannes Film Festival 2024. Image: Getty.

In what must be heartening news for famous men currently experiencing the fierce sting of accountability for abusive behaviour (CC: Diddy, you absolute piece of garbage), both Franco and LaBeouf provide a shining example of how to escape any lasting consequences for their actions.


All you have to do is stick to the rules of the Hollywood Redemption Arc Playbook. 

Step one: Own your addiction.

Find a sympathetic audience (a podcast is often the medium of choice, preferably hosted by another man), and make a public mea culpa for your actions. Not a legally binding one, mind you - we need to keep deniability for the courts - but concede just enough that it sounds like you're really sorry. Ideally, reveal you're in treatment for addiction - any addiction will do.

LaBeouf, who has publicly struggled with alcohol abuse for many years, appeared on fellow actor Jon Bernthal's podcast Real Ones to confess "I f**ked up bad. Like crash and burn type sh*t. [I] hurt many people, and I'm fully aware of that. And I'm going to owe for the rest of my life." He referenced his time in rehab and - without naming FKA Twigs, acknowledged "I hurt that woman."

James Franco picked The Jess Cagle Show, four years after the allegations against him surfaced, to address them.

"I've just been doing a lot of work," Franco said in his 2021 interview. "There were some issues that I had to deal with that were also related to addiction. And so I've really used my recovery background to kind of start examining this and changing who I was."

See also: Brad Pitt's 2017 GQ cover in which, posing like a wounded gazelle, he spoke of his recent sobriety, his demons, and being 'too sad' to sleep at the house he had once shared with his children.

Step two: Align with as many sympathetic women as possible.

This might be difficult, but it's time to find a woman with clout who can publicly have your back. Come on, think - you can't have burnt all your female bridges!


For LaBeouf, a reunion with wife Mia Goth, with whom he shares a daughter, was announced just one month after his podcast interview. Years earlier, after an altercation with his then-girlfriend Goth, LaBeouf was filmed getting into a car and saying, "I would have killed her".

Shia LaBeouf and Mia Goth. Image: Getty.

For Franco, it's long-time girlfriend Izabel Pakzad who has provided a much-needed oestrogen buffer to his public shaming. Pakzad, who is 15 years Franco's junior, has stood by him throughout the allegations against him, and Franco has claimed she has taught him how to be a better man.


James Franco and Izabel Pakzad. Image: Getty.

Both Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt excelled here during their own journeys through the Redemption Arc Playbook - Pitt's orchestrated cutesy public interactions with ex Jennifer Aniston go predictably viral whenever they occur, while Gwyneth Paltrow, another famous ex, recently gushed over the star's skincare line. Depp was publicly supported through the court case with Amber Heard by a host of ex-girlfriends and friends, including Winona Ryder.


Step three: The aesthetic rebrand.

Finally, while quietly beginning a lucrative new film project or two, it's time to re-emerge - that Oscar isn't going to win itself now, is it? This is best done with a stylistic rebrand that plays on the quirky, deeply artistic nature of the celebrity's new and improved image. And let us not forget that displaying greys - preferably in a beard and/or at the temples, is the best way to remind people of just how much time has passed. You're an older, wiser, less threatening version of yourself now! Let that speckled facial hair do the talking.

LaBeouf, hitting the Cannes red carpet in a tuxedo with his bleached, top-deck undercut slicked back, sported a full beard with hallmark 'wisdom streaks' through the front, while the formerly clean-shaven Franco appeared in shades, a beard and a hefty dose of salt-and-pepper through the whole situation. 

Pitt famously donned a skirt on the red carpet for Bullet Train (look! He's so fun! And quirky! And non-threatening!) while Depp, walking the Cannes red carpet in 2023 for his comeback film Jeanne Du Barry, pared back his 'modern pirate' look to play the sensible distinguished Hollywood lead in an elegant tux and goatee.

See? That wasn't so hard now, was it? No matter what you've done wrong, just remember: a few years, a few interviews and some strategically placed hit pieces on your accuser, and you too could be back earning the big bucks with impunity in no time.

Unless, of course, you're a woman.

If you or someone you know is at risk of violence, contact: 1800 RESPECT.

Feature image: