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After years of alcoholism and public outbursts, Shia LaBeouf's Oscars date changed the course of his life.

This article contains mentions of rape, and may be triggering to some readers. 

When Shia LaBeouf appeared on stage at the Oscars with his co-star Zack Gottsagen to present the award for Best Live Action Short, the crowd erupted into a standing ovation.

For Gottsagen, who made history as the first presenter with Down syndrome at the ceremony, it was a dream come true.

Online, however, LaBeouf was accused of laughing at his The Peanut Butter Falcon co-star and fellow presenter.

Watch the official trailer for The Peanut Butter Falcon below. Post continues after video.

Responding to the claims on Twitter, Honey Boy director Alma Har’el defended LaBeouf over the incident.

“Shia was offered to present an Oscar,” the director explained on Twitter.

“He said he would do it if he can share that moment with his beloved co-star Zack Gottsagen who we all adore,” he added.

“It’s stressful up there.”

Unbeknownst to many viewers, LaBeouf and Gottsagen have become incredibly close friends since appearing together in the comedy-drama The Peanut Butter Falcon.

In the film, LaBeouf stars as a fugitive fisherman on the run who befriends a man with Down syndrome (Gottsagen) who has escaped his assisted living home in the hopes of becoming a professional wrestler.

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Inspired by The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Gottsagen’s real-life aspirations of becoming a Hollywood actor, the film was created after co-directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz met Gottsagen at a summer camp for people with disabilities.

Ahead of appearing in the film together, Gottsagen admitted that he was a big fan of LaBeouf’s Disney Channel show, Even Stevens.

“That show always made me laugh so much,” he told Variety. 

“I was just so happy just to meet him.”

Since the film was released, however, LaBeouf has credited the 35-year-old actor with saving his life.

shia labeouf oscars
Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen present the award for Best Live Action Short. Image: Getty.

Amid shooting the film, LaBeouf and Gottsagen routinely hung out, often watching wrestling together.

But on July 8, 2017, a drunk and disorderly LaBeouf was arrested in Savannah, Georgia, after asking a stranger for a cigarette.

TMZ obtained Savannah police footage which showed much of the aftermath, which included the actor using a number of profanities and racist slurs.

LaBeouf was found not guilty on one charge of public intoxication, and pleaded no contest to disorderly conduct, for which he was fined $1,000, and served 12 months’ probation.

When LaBeouf returned to the set of The Peanut Butter Falcon after being bailed out, he felt "deep shame".

"I can't look anyone in the eye. And I can't come to terms with it. And no one's talking to me and I'm talking to no one, and I know my life has exploded again," LaBeouf recalled, speaking to The Guardian's Danny Leigh.

Following the incident, Gottsagen was concerned for his co-star – and he worried about whether the incident could jeopardise the film.

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"I was mad," he recalled. "Angry. Frustrated."

"And I was worried about Shia doing the wrong things, being out in the middle of the night."

Listen to the latest episode of Mamamia's daily entertainment podcast, The Spill, below.

LaBeouf later told Esquire that to hear his co-star "say that he was disappointed in me probably changed the course of my life".

When the film began shooting again, Gottsagen put his hand on LaBeouf's shoulder. It was a simple gesture that meant so much to the 33-year-old actor.

"He nursed me back, on a boat, during a scene where we're talking about, like, the painful past," LaBeouf told the UK's Channel 4. "That stuff hurts."

At the time, LaBeouf promised Gottsagen that he would not drink for the rest of the shoot. Since then, the 33-year-old has been sober.

"This film saved my life," he told The Guardian.

Gottsagen responded: "I have been changing Shia's life".

"That’s how I do things," he added. "And Shia has proved to himself he doesn’t have to act out. So I’m going to keep taking the chance of being close to him."

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Shia LaBeouf and Zack Gottsagen at the Vanity Fair Oscars After Party. Image: Getty.

During his 20s, LaBeouf developed a reputation for being rude, drunken, violent and pretentious.

In 2011, he was reportedly drunk and aggressive on the set of Lawless.

In December 2013, LaBeouf was discovered to have plagiarised the work of Dan Clowes, in his short film, Howard Cantor. He eventually apologised, but the damage to his credibility had been done.

In 2014, LaBeouf wore a paper bag on his head, which read, “I am not famous anymore” – on the red carpet for Nymphomaniac. He later dismissed the move as one of his many strange ‘performance art’ moments. (Other 'performance art' moments included locking himself in an elevator and watching 29 of his movies in a New York theatre for three days straight.)

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On June 26, 2014, LaBeouf was charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass at New York's Studio 54 theatre. After the incident, he voluntarily sought treatment for alcoholism.

In March 2018, LaBeouf explained how rehabilitation for his alcohol issues later helped him understand his rage.

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Image: Getty.

"When I got to rehab last year, they said I had PTSD," LaBeouf shared, adding that he witnessed his mother being raped when he was 10 years old.

The actor’s time in rehab also gave him time to reflect on his behaviour in Georgia.

"What went on in Georgia was mortifying,” he admitted to Esquire.

"White privilege and desperation and disaster," he added.

"I’m a buffoon. My public outbursts are failures. They’re not strategic. They’re a struggling motherf*cker showing his ass in front of the world."

The Peanut Butter Falcon is appearing in select Australian cinemas now. Honey Boy, which is based on Shia LaBeouf's childhood and his relationship with his father, is premiering in Australian cinemas on February 27, 2020.

Feature Image: Getty.

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If this post brings up any issues for you, or if you just feel like you need to speak to someone, please call 1800 RESPECT (1800 737 732) – the national sexual assault, domestic and family violence counselling service. It doesn’t matter where you live, they will take your call and, if need be, refer you to a service closer to home.


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