James Franco weighs in on Shia LaBeouf's behavior in essay

Actor James Franco arrives at the LACMA 2013

Actor James Franco arrives at the LACMA 2013 Art + Film Gala on Nov. 2, 2013, in Los Angeles. (Credit: Getty Images / Frazer Harrison)

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James Franco has offered possible explanations for fellow actor Shia LaBeouf's recent string of "erratic" behavior.

"This behavior could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness," Franco wrote in a New York Times Op-Ed piece Thursday.

But Franco also suggested that perhaps LaBeouf's actions "are intended as a piece of performance art." Granting that his own suggestion may have "pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones," Franco went on to analyze why it might be true.

Franco, 35, acknowledged LaBeouf's penchant for plagiarism and lengthy, repeated apologies, as well as his appearances at a movie premiere and an art installation with a paper bag on his head bearing the phrase "I am not famous anymore."

Noting that while actors such as Marlon Brando, Joaquin Phoenix and himself have exhibited "rebellion against an industry that practically forces an actor to identify with his persona," Franco nonetheless hoped that if the 27-year-old LaBeouf's actions are of conscious design "that he is careful not to use up all the good will he has gained as an actor in order to show us that he is an artist."

LaBeouf's representative had no comment. Zach Braff, Franco's co-star in "Oz the Great and Powerful," tweeted Thursday that, "James' well-written and thoughtful op-ed leaves out one other viable possible scenario: That Mr. LaBeouf is quite simply a [expletive]."

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