Shia LaBeouf Says Co-Star With Down’s Syndrome ‘Saved Him’ After Alcohol Problems

by : Cameron Frew on : 09 Oct 2019 18:13
Shia LaBeouf Zack Gottsagen Peanut Butter Falcon ThumbShia LaBeouf Zack Gottsagen Peanut Butter Falcon ThumbPA

While filming The Peanut Butter Falcon, Shia LaBeouf said his co-star with Down’s syndrome ‘saved him’ after a string of embarrassing incidents. 

The film, which sees Zak (Zack Gottsagen) run away from his care home to achieve his dream of being a professional wrestler, ending up on the road with Tyler (LaBeouf), is currently rated 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, with critics calling it a ‘feelgood adventure’.


But for LaBeouf and Gottsagen, their bond was more than on-screen chemistry: when the Transformers star was going through a ‘twisted’ time in his life, Gottsagen brought him back to the real world.

Check out a clip from his Channel 4 interview below: 


In an interview with Channel 4’s Cathy Newman, the pair talk about their experiences filming the movie, with LaBeouf discussing the privileges of working with Gottsagen.


‘I don’t think anybody else could have done what he did in the film… if you brought in Daniel Day Lewis you wouldn’t have had the same moments,’ the Even Stevens actor said.

Check out the trailer for The Peanut Butter Falcon below: 


Since his days battling the Decepticons, LaBeouf has had a difficult relationship with the press, with stories routinely appearing regarding his attitude on-set. Also, who can forget the bag on his head at the premiere of Nymphomaniac?


Back in July 2017, LaBeouf was arrested in Georgia on charges of disorderly conduct, obstruction, and public drunkenness – bodycam footage obtained by TMZ from the incident of the 31-year-old outrageously lashing out at officers only made matters worse.

Zack Gottsagen, left, and Shia LaBeouf The Peanut Butter FalconPA

He posted a lengthy statement on Twitter apologising for his actions, writing: 

I am deeply ashamed of my behavior and make no excuse for it. I don’t know if these statements are too frequent, or not shared often enough, but I am certain that my actions warrant a very sincere apology to the arresting officers, and I am grateful for their restraint. The severity of my behavior is not lost on me.

My outright disrespect for authority is problematic to say the least, and completely destructive to say the worst. It is a new low. A low I hope is a bottom.


However, the day after the arrest, LaBeouf was on the set of the film, on a boat – and he ‘couldn’t look anyone in the eye’. That was until Gottsagen put his hand on the actor’s shoulder.

Zack Gottsagen, left, and Shia LaBeouf The Peanut Butter FalconPA

As heard in the Channel 4 interview, LaBeouf explained: 

[He] nursed me back, on a boat, during a scene where we’re talking about the painful past. That stuff hurts.


Gottsagen told Newman he gave LaBeouf ‘one chance to prove to himself: never, never, never do this kind of stuff again’.

Zack Gottsagen, Dakota Johnson and, and Shia LaBeouf The Peanut Butter FalconPA
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Newman then asked LaBeouf: ‘So actually the film sort of saved you in a way – would that be too dramatic to say?’ He replied: ‘No it’s not too dramatic to say.’

According to The Times, Gottsagen’s mother Shelly said LaBeouf hasn’t had another drink since that day on the boat.

In an interview with Esquire, LaBeouf said his co-star ‘changed the course of his life’: 

To hear [Gottsagen] say that he was disappointed in me probably changed the course of my life. Zack can’t not shoot straight, and bless him for it, because in that moment, I needed a straight shooter who I couldn’t argue with.

The Peanut Butter Falcon hits UK cinemas on October 18. 

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Cameron Frew

After graduating from Glasgow Caledonian University with an NCTJ and BJTC-accredited Multimedia Journalism degree, Cameron ventured into the world of print journalism at The National, while also working as a freelance film journalist on the side, becoming an accredited Rotten Tomatoes critic in the process. He's now left his Scottish homelands and taken up residence at UNILAD as a journalist.

Topics: Film and TV, Film, Mental Health, Shia LaBeouf


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