Shia LaBeouf is out. Ben Foster is in.
A day after LaBeouf stepped away from the play that would have marked his Broadway debut, he was replaced by Foster.
LaBeouf responded to the backstage turmoil by posting private messages from the show’s actors and creative team sent to him that expressed sadness for any creative disagreements and high admiration for LaBeouf’s skills.
Foster, whose film roles include 3:10 to Yuma and The Messenger and who was on TV in The Laramie Project and Six Feet Under, had auditioned for the revival of Lyle Kessler’s play Orphans but had lost the role to the star of the Transformers franchise.
After LaBeouf left the production on Wednesday due to what were described as “creative differences”, Foster was picked. After the change was announced, LaBeouf tweeted: “Ben Foster is a beast. He will kill it”, in all capital letters. Foster will be making his Broadway debut.
The play, which premiered in 1983, tells the story of two orphaned brothers living in a decrepit Philadelphia row house who decide to kidnap a wealthy man. LaBeouf was to play one brother and Tom Sturridge the other — Former 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin will be the target.
The switch in actors hasn’t delayed the show. Producers said Orphans will still open on March 19 at the Schoenfeld Theatre. Rehearsals restart Friday.
LaBeouf apparently stepped away from the play without burning too many bridges — at least according to the messages he’s posted on Twitter. The actor published e-mail messages between him, Baldwin, Sturridge and director Daniel Sullivan that indicated a somewhat amicable, if anguished, split.
“Sorry for my part of a dis-agreeable situation,” he wrote to Baldwin in an e-mail posted on LaBeouf’s Twitter feed. LaBeouf also posted his raw audition video, allowing the world to weigh in on his approach.
Baldwin apparently wrote to the younger actor: “I don’t have an unkind word to say about you. You have my word.”
LaBeouf also posted an image of an e-mail he got from former co-star Sturridge, who seemed shocked by the split and called it an honour to work with LaBeouf. “I was stunned by the work you were doing,” he wrote. “I think you lifted the play to a place higher than maybe it even deserved to be.”
As for Sullivan, the director apparently wrote to LaBeouf after the decision was made that the actor leave the show: “This one will haunt me. You tried to warn me. You said you were a different breed. I didn't get it.”
A press representative for the show said the messages were legitimate.
LaBeouf seemed still somewhat shaken by the whole experience Thursday, writing on Twitter a series of slogans with opaque meanings.
“The theatre belongs not to the great but to the brash. acting is not for gentlemen, or bureaucratic-academics. what they do is antiart,” he wrote in one tweet.
He also posted an image of a commiserative e-mail apparently from Rick Sordelet, a veteran fight director, who said, “It was obvious you were going to turn in a fantastic performance.” In the same message, Sordelet wrote: “It must have been difficult for others in the room to be schooled by someone who’s raw talent and enthusiasm out matched theirs.” It was likely a note not intended for the rest of the company to see.
LaBeouf, whose other films include Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, was also recently seen in John Hillcoat’s crime drama Lawless.