James Franco has expressed his support for his fellow former child star Shia Labeouf as the Transformers actor struggles to deal with life in the public eye.
LaBeouf has sparked concerns for his mental wellbeing in recent weeks after a string of headline-grabbing stunts, which began late last year (13) following claims his short film Howard Cantour had plagiarised a graphic novel, prompting the actor to commission a sky writer to create an apology in the clouds above Los Angeles.
He recently took part in a bizarre live art installation in Los Angeles, during which he sat alone in a gallery wearing a paper bag with the words 'I am not famous anymore' scrawled across the front on his head.
He had previously modeled the bagged look while walking the red carpet at the Berlin Film Festival.
John Mayer defended LaBeouf's strange antics in a series of Twitter.com posts last week (ends14Feb14), and now Franco has shared his views in an opinion piece, titled Why Actors Act Out, for the New York Times.
In the article, published on Thursday (20Feb14), Franco admits he is concerned by LaBeouf's weird behavior, but insists he can understand the pressures the troubled actor faces as he tries to find a balance between his private and public life.
He writes, "Though the wisdom of some of his actions may seem questionable, as an actor and artist I'm inclined to take an empathetic view of his conduct.
"This behavior could be a sign of many things, from a nervous breakdown to mere youthful recklessness. For Mr. LaBeouf's sake I hope it is nothing serious. Indeed I hope - and, yes, I know that this idea has pretentious or just plain ridiculous overtones - that his actions are intended as a piece of performance art, one in which a young man in a very public profession tries to reclaim his public persona."
Franco admits he has battled similar issues in his own life, and lists Marlon Brando and Joaquin Phoenix, who displayed his own eccentricities in the mockumentary I'm Still Here in 2010, as examples of others who have struggled with fame, too.
He continues, "Mr. LaBeouf has been acting since he was a child, and often an actor's need to tear down the public creation that constrains him occurs during the transition from young man to adult. I think Mr. LaBeouf's project, if it is a project, is a worthy one. I just hope 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."