Where do you start with Shia LaBeouf? The former child star and teenage action hero, latter-day performance artist and Hollywood outcast vapes as a tune plays on his phone. The song is Our House by 1970s supergroup Crosby, Stills and Nash. (“A very, very, very fine house.”) He dances. “What do you want to listen to?” he asks the other actor in the room, Zack Gottsagen. “Pick a song.” Gottsagen, who has Down’s syndrome, shrugs and looks across at me. “He’s from the Guardian,” LaBeouf says in a tone that might be called sceptical. He switches off the music. “All right,” he says. “Let’s talk our ****.”
Ahead of this interview, I watch YouTube footage of LaBeouf’s 2017 arrest for public drunkenness in Savannah, Georgia. Physically, he looks much the same now, beard and T-shirt and worked-on upper arms. Then I watch The Peanut Butter Falcon, the film he was making at the time. It stars Gottsagen as a young man with Down’s syndrome who goes on the run from the retirement home he has been placed in by the state, joining a fugitive fisherman played by LaBeouf on an escape along the eastern seaboard. The result – charming, Mark Twain-ish – was the sleeper hit of the US summer. For Gottsagen, 34, the bustle of interviews and film festivals is something new. LaBeouf, 33, is less excited. “I’ve been on this rollercoaster several times,” he says. “So the only way for it to be fun is to do it with someone who has never been on it before.”
Gottsagen - Amateur - Plays - Child - Grease
Gottsagen has been acting in amateur plays since he was a child, inspired by Grease and Hairspray, with a striking gift as a performer. In the film, he and LaBeouf play off each other beautifully. “I always wanted to do acting to express...
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