Shia LaBeouf has a problem with plagiarism.
The actor recently made his directorial debut with a short film called HowardCantour.com, but failed to credit artist Daniel Clowes for providing the inspiration. The film about an online critic takes whole sections of dialogue from a comic Clowes published in 2007 called Justin M. Damiano.
LaBeouf initially claimed that his inspiration for the work was in his own experience with critics.
“I know something about the gulf between critical acclaim and blockbuster business. I have been crushed by critics (especially during my Transformers run), and in trying to come to terms with my feelings about critics, I needed to understand them,” LaBeouf said to Short of the Week about his inspiration. “As I tried to empathize with the sort of man who might earn a living taking potshots at me and the people I’ve worked with, a small script developed.”
Though LaBeouf’s film appeared at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival, Clowes didn’t notice until it was released online this year that much of HowardCantour.com was the same as his comic.
“The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LaBeouf,” Clowes told BuzzFeed’s Jordan Zakarin in an interview. “I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did six or seven years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.”
In response, Shia LaBeouf issued a lengthy apology on Twitter, saying in part, “I f***ed up.”
Copying isn’t particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work.
— Shia LaBeouf (@thecampaignbook) December 17, 2013
“Merely copying isn’t particularly creative work, though it’s useful as training and practice. Being inspired by someone else’s idea to produce something new and different IS creative work, and it may even revolutionalize [sic] the “stolen” concept.”
This isn’t the first time Shia has gotten in trouble for his filmmaking. In October, he reportedly tried to film a woman who was vomiting in public, and ended up getting kicked in the crotch and punched in the face when the woman realized she was being filmed and grew angry.
“I only realized it was Shia after he’d been beaten up. If I’d known, I’d have let him film me as much as he liked. I have a massive crush on him,” the woman told The Sun.
Shia LaBeouf has yet to apologize for his apology.