WOULD you queue for more than five hours to speak to Hollywood actor Shia LaBeouf inside a lift?
That is the question a surprisingly large number of people in Oxford answered ‘yes’ to, with more than 100 fans waiting patiently for hours to meet the Transformers star.
As part of an “art performance” ahead of an appearance at the Oxford Union, the actor stayed put in the lift at EC English in Gloucester Green with artists Luke Turner and Nastja Säde Rönkkö from 9am on Friday.
The trio said they planned to stay until 9am today – only leaving for the union talk – and even received a pizza from Domino’s during the public stunt.
Speaking inside the lift, Mr LaBeouf told a fan: “You come to Oxford and you are going to do this talk and it feels kind of cold and uppity.
“We never really wanted to do the talk but you don’t want to turn it down either.
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“So how do you make that warm and close and more friendly? That is what we are trying to do.”
Visitors to the building were able to join the group inside the lift and chat to the actor and his pals.
Topics of conversations ranged from Oxford University sports teams, to the abstract concept of metamodernism and even to the dating app Tinder.
- People queueing in Gloucester Green to get into the lift with Shia LaBeouf
Mr LaBeouf said: “I haven’t used it. Is that the new way of saying ‘hey I think you’re attractive?’ “There’s nothing wrong with that. I think that’s really interesting, the new way of saying ‘I think you’re pretty’ but without the risk.”
The day saw the actor trending on Twitter in Oxford while the whole event was broadcast live on YouTube, watched by thousands of people at any one time.
Not everyone was interested in the stunt, however. Television personality Piers Morgan wrote on Twitter: “It’s not ‘performance art’ – he’s standing in a b***dy lift.”
It wasn’t his first visit to Oxfordshire – he filmed scenes for tank drama Fury, also starring Brad Pitt, in Shirburn, near Watlington in 2013.
Mr LaBeouf’s career started with the Disney television show Even Stevens before he starred in the first three Transformers films.
Alongside Harrison Ford, he played Indiana Jones’ son ‘Mutt Williams’ in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in 2008, the fourth film in the franchise created by George Lucas.
Yesterday was not the first time Mr LaBeouf has made headlines with an unusual art project in co-operation with Turner and Rönkkö.
In 2014 they organised the #IAMSORRY exhibition, when people queued at a Los Angeles art gallery to watch him sit silently in a room while wearing a tuxedo with a paper bag over his head.
- Reporter Naomi Herring shakes hands with Shia LaBeouf after meeting him in the lift
Reporter Naomi Herring managed a brief chat with Shia LaBeouf:
Q: How long have you been here and what have you done?
A: We have been here since yesterday and we’ve been up a church tower and around some of the colleges.
Q: What do you like about Oxford? Have you been here before?
A: I’ve never been to Oxford before. I like the history, the architecture and the buildings. It’s got the oldest English-speaking university in the world. That’s awesome.
Q: What’s the weirdest question someone has asked you today?
A: Well, someone asked ‘what’s the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to you in your whole life?’ and someone else asked ‘who is your hero?’ These are hard questions.
Q: It’s quite a small space…
A: We’ve had to put up with the kind of nail polish smell in here the whole day.
Q: Are you still in touch with Beans (Steven Anthony Lawrence) from Even Stevens?
A: Yeah, we still talk. He has his own house and is living with a girlfriend.
FIRST PERSON, MEETING SHIA LABEOUF:
After four hours waiting in line to meet Shia LaBeouf, five minutes in a lift with him - honestly - was enough.
Now that may be down to the fact that I was tired and bored by the time I had made it to the front of the queue.
Or maybe because he seemed tired and bored after 9 hours meeting fans.
As I was one of, what I would guess, more than 100 people that had waited for hours to see the Hollywood actor - I hoped for more.
Once in the lift we asked what he had been enjoying about Oxford, he mentioned the architecture and admitted they had done a bit of sight-seeing the day before.
I also put to him: why chose a public exhibition in a lift for fans? He explained how it was better suited to him than getting up and speaking in front of crowds of people.
Unfortunately, the person who joined me in the lift to meet the star offered up pop tarts early on, which proved to be a bit of a distraction.
But he did pose for a selfie, which I am sure becomes tiresome after meeting hundreds of fans in such a intimate setting.
He made it clear with organisers that nobody was to be given a time limit for their encounter and wanted to make sure each meeting was comfortable.
It says a lot about a person, who must be hounded by fans and media every day, to be happy to make the effort with fans.
It's a great idea for them to be able to have such a personal experience with a high-profile star and one that many will treasure.
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