While there’s a list of compelling reasons why one wouldn’t want to associate with Shia LaBeouf, his “Even Stevens” sister Christy Carlson Romano is pulling back the curtain on her fractured relationship with the troubled star.
The onetime child actors became a staple on the Disney Channel in the early aughts as feuding siblings Ren and Louis on the beloved series, which ran for three seasons and produced one eerily prescient TV musical.
On her YouTube channel, Romano has been mining her Disney days for content, so it was only a matter of time before she addressed the controversies surrounding her former co-star in a video simply titled “Why I Don’t Talk to Shia LaBeouf.”
“Everybody always asks me this question, if we’re still in touch, if we’re still friends. To be honest, I don’t even really know if we were ever really friends, but we were co-workers,” she said in the video, which has racked up hundreds of thousands of views since it was uploaded on Tuesday.
“We had this sort of, like, very good on-screen chemistry,” Romano continued, noting that she’s “honored” people are still invested in their relationship nearly two decades after the show ended.
While the two worked closely together, Romano says she had little visibility into the harsh realities of LaBeouf’s home life, which served as inspiration for his semiautobiographical 2019 film “Honey Boy” about his experiences as a child star.
“Watch ‘Honey Boy’ and it’s like he’s a completely traumatized young man at the same time that I’m working with him,” Romano said.
“I didn’t know a lot of the backstories that came out about where they were living at that time and how much hardship they’d seen and stuff like that,” she said. “I just kick myself because I really do kind of wish, if I’d known anything about him, I could have been a little bit more ― patient?”
Carlson confessed that she “had a little bit of animosity” toward LaBeouf over him snubbing her after his Daytime Emmy win in 2003.
“I was sitting there with the rest of our team and he thanked everybody at the table but he didn’t thank me,” Romano recalled. “I was hurt at the time because I felt like since day one, it was him and me. It was like our show. But because it was so life-or-death for him, it was his show. And I was just around because I was a girl.”
As their lives began to take separate paths after the show ended ― LaBeouf booked blockbuster after blockbuster, while she pursued a relatively normal college life ― Romano said she ultimately “felt a little jilted” by her experience.
“I was a bit salty. I felt like he had gotten a better agent, a better manager,” she said. “I was like, here he is making a big splash in Hollywood and here I am. I chose to go to college, and there’s consequences that come to that. There was definitely an undercurrent of regret, but also an undercurrent of, like, comparison. Sibling rivalry, if you will. I think over time, though, that really mellowed out for me.”
If they ever crossed paths today, Romano said there would still be an “undeniable bond” forged in the unique experience of child stardom that only few people share.
The actor previously opened up in a powerful 2019 Teen Vogue essay about her past struggle with depression, drinking and self-harm at the height of her fame, comparing LaBeouf’s more public struggles with substance abuse to her own private breakdown.
“Shia, if you see this, know that I love you. I’m sorry that we didn’t connect more when we were kids,” she concluded in the video. “And I really do hope that you are taking it one day at a time. … Be well, because I’ll always love you.”
LaBeouf, of course, has taken an extended break from the public eye after being accused of sexual battery by multiple women, including ex-girlfriend FKA Twigs, who filed a lawsuit against him last year.
Amid the fallout from the charges, LaBeouf was dropped by his talent agency CAA and entered into a long-term inpatient treatment program, according to his legal team. However, he’s set to make an acting comeback by playing an Italian saint in director Abel Ferrara’s upcoming film, which will begin production later this fall.
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