This is not entirely surprising, as Shia LaBeouf has made it known that he does not like Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and his criticisms of that film did not go appreciated by Steven Spielberg or Harrison Ford. It’s not entirely clear at this time whether Shia LaBeouf was ever going to have a role in this film or whether he turned down an offer to return. Still, with LaBeouf now out of the potentially final Indiana Jones adventure, let’s take a look back at his criticisms of the most recent installment, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
Shia LaBeouf first started talking trash about Kingdom of the Crystal Skull two years after it hit theaters. In May 2010, he told the Los Angeles Times that he wasn’t happy with the fourth film. Although he mostly put the blame on himself, he did derisively refer to one of the film’s most maligned scenes and suggested that the writing and directing was an issue too.
“I feel like I dropped the ball on the legacy that people loved and cherished,” LaBeouf said. “…You get to monkey-swinging and things like that and you can blame it on the writer and you can blame it on Steven [Spielberg, who directed]. But the actor’s job is to make it come alive and make it work, and I couldn’t do it. So that’s my fault. Simple.”
At the time, LaBeouf said that he wanted to be honest about the movie not being good, and at this point he outed Harrison Ford as also apparently not liking the film, something Ford had not talked about.
“We [Harrison Ford and LaBeouf] had major discussions,” LaBeouf said. “He wasn’t happy with it either. Look, the movie could have been updated. There was a reason it wasn’t universally accepted.”
LaBeouf also said that he will “probably get a call” from Steven Spielberg after making these comments, but he said that “when you drop the ball you drop the ball.”
At the same time that LaBeouf said this, he also criticized Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, a Steven Spielberg produced film that only came out a year earlier.
About 12 months after LaBeouf criticized Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Harrison Ford laid into him, saying that an actor has an obligation to support a film they’re in.
“I think he was a f*cking idiot,” Ford said. “As an actor, I think it’s my obligation to support the film without making a complete ass of myself. Shia is ambitious, attentive, and talented – and he’s learning how to deal with a situation which is very unique and difficult.”
In October of that year, Steven Spielberg discussed Kingdom of the Crystal Skull in an interview, and while he did not respond to LaBeouf’s comments, he did criticize the film a bit himself by saying that he never liked the MacGuffin in it and that this was entirely George Lucas’ idea.
In 2012, Shia LaBeouf revealed that his Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comments “deeply ruptured” his relationship with Steven Spielberg.
“He told me there’s a time to be a human being and have an opinion, and there’s a time to sell cars,” LaBeouf said at the time. “It brought me freedom, but it also killed my spirits because this was a dude I looked up to like a sensei.”
LaBeouf said in this interview that he regrets the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull comments, although it seemed pretty clear that he still felt the same way and simply regretted making his feelings known publicly. Throughout this interview, LaBeouf criticized the studio system and said that it makes life difficult for people who are actually creative artists, with the implication being that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is an example of why he doesn’t like working on major blockbusters.
In 2016, LaBeouf again said that he’s not a fan of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, telling Variety that he doesn’t like any of the movies he made with Steven Spielberg except for the first Transformers.
“I prepped for a year and a half,” LaBeouf said of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. “And then the movie comes out, and it’s your fault. That sh*t hurt bad.
But LaBeouf went a step further, this time criticizing Spielberg himself.
“You get there, and you realize you’re not meeting the Spielberg you dream of,” LaBeouf said. “You’re meeting a different Spielberg, who is in a different stage in his career. He’s less a director than he is a f*cking company.”
So was Indiana Jones 5 always imagined as a sequel without Mutt Williams in it? Was he written out because he was a character who was widely disliked, or because Shia LaBeouf has been so critical of Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and of director Steven Spielberg? Was he offered a part but turned it down because he hated the last movie so much and has steered clear of blockbusters in recent years? These questions do not yet have answers, but looking back at Shia LaBeouf’s history with the Indiana Jones franchise, it’s pretty unsurprising that he will not be returning.