2019 saw Shia LaBeouf have a successful cinematic comeback after his personal and professional life have been plagued with controversy and brokenness for some time.
This past year, the actor re-emerged into Hollywood afresh with such celebrated productions as The Peanut Butter Falcon and Honey Boy, the latter of which is based on LaBeouf’s own experiences. In Falcon, though, he portrayed Tyler, who’s down on his luck, haunted by his past and discouraged by his present. He eventually meets Zak, a young man with Down syndrome who wants to pursue his dreams and is played by Zack Gottsagen.
Gottsagen, who has Down syndrome himself, spent a lot of quality time with LaBeouf while both filming The Peanut Butter Falcon and after the feature’s debut. They were really supportive of one another, too, as LaBeouf has explained that Gottsagen helped him through a rough time, and he, in turn, helped his fellow actor to achieve his dreams.
In fact, LaBeouf has even attributed the changed man he’s become to the influence of Gottsagen, and at the 2020 Oscars, the pair of co-stars appeared to present the Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action), with Gottsagen proudly making history as the first actor with Down syndrome to present at the Oscars.
However, for LaBeouf, the event produced another tarnishing controversy in its aftermath, as viewers of the ceremony quickly took to social media claiming that the veteran actor laughed at Gottsagen while he was presenting the award.
Did Shia Leboeuf just REALLY laugh at the Down syndrome man on stage… on live television????! #Oscars
— Johana D. (@johanaedelgadou) February 10, 2020
Did you guys not notice Shia trying not to laugh at the kid with downsyndrome? #Oscars
— Pinky (@pinkyenthusiast) February 10, 2020
— Sara.Dhgn (@SaraDhgn) February 10, 2020
Shia LaBeouf is canceled ! How dare you laugh at someone that’s disable #Oscar2020
— Quez (@TheRoyalSir) February 10, 2020
did Shia Labeouf just laugh at a special needs kid on stage…
— gay baby jail warden (@chisaiirisu) February 10, 2020
did Shia Labeouf rly just laugh at the kid with down’s syndrome
— syd (@syd2911) February 10, 2020
In response to the accusations though, other social media users have since pointed out the endearing friendship between the two that had been noted by numerous media outlets over the previous months, with many leaping to Shia’s defense.
— Sorcerer Supreme (@iAmNELLEZ_) February 10, 2020
— Emily Jean (@ejaydubs) February 10, 2020
— The Snapper (@TheSnappertweet) February 10, 2020
Shia LaBeouf Didn’t laugh at the young boy with Down syndrome, it was an awkward situation. Shia helped him get off stage. The media headline is way off and has poor journalism skills.STFU
— TG21 (@worldgym21_p) February 10, 2020
For all the #shialabeouf haters, he didn’t laugh at the young man at the Oscars he was simply stepping back, smiling at his friend and letting him have his moment in the spotlight. You are the most sensitive generation ever so shut the fuck up, stop your crying and get a job!
— Shawnda Kay (@ShawndaKay4) February 11, 2020
Furthermore, Zack Gottsagen’s mother, Shelley, has also come out since the social media accusations to put those suspicions to rest. Speaking with Too Fab, she said:
“Shia is just wonderful, you know? We really love him. If anything, I think they were grinning because it was hard to get the envelope open…It upset me when I thought that somebody was thinking that Shia could have ever had a kind of negative attitude ’cause he’s been nothing, nothing, nothing but supportive.”
Honestly, this just seems like another case in which Twitter reactions have led to a great misunderstanding and a depressing misinterpretation, which has unfortunately painted Shia LaBeouf in a negative light once more.