08/29/2012 01:43 pm ET Updated Jan 22, 2013

Shia LaBeouf: The Unnecessary Career Death Of The Last Movie Star?

"I'm done," Shia LaBeouf recently told THR. The "Transformers" star no longer wants to make blockbusters for big studios.

"There's no room for being a visionary in the studio system. It literally cannot exist. [The studios] give you the money, then get on a plane and come to the set and stick a finger up your ass and chase you around for five months."

LaBeouf later told USA Today that the quote was taken out of context, but maybe it wasn't: Since Linkin Park played over the end-credits of "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," LaBeouf has done everything he can to not star in traditional Hollywood movies. He's the lead in the violent indie "Lawless" (out in theaters now), and next stars in "The Company You Keep" (a.k.a. "The Movie Shia Made With Robert Redford"), "The Necessary Death of Charlie Countryman" (a.k.a. "The Movie Where Shia Drops Acid") and "Nymphomaniac" (a.k.a. "The Movie Where Shia Will Simulate Various Sex Acts on Screen"). "Transformers 4" these are not.

But maybe they should be.

This is a dangerous time to be a movie star: Combined, movies led by bona fide icons Johnny Depp ("Dark Shadows"), Tom Cruise ("Rock of Ages") and Adam Sandler ("That's My Boy") were outgrossed in North America this summer by "Ted," Seth MacFarlane's comedy about a foul-mouthed (and computer-generated) teddy bear. The year's biggest hits -- "Marvel's The Avengers," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Hunger Games" -- were ensembles sold on characters, not stars. (Robert Downey Jr. is technically in the class of Depp, Cruise and Sandler, but he still wields the most box-office power while wearing his Iron Man costume.) In a way, movie stars are facing the same issues as talk radio: They're getting older and their fans are getting older. At the same time, young audiences aren't loyal to movie stars, but rather movie moments. (Tom Cruise climbing the tallest building in the world? Check. Tom Cruise singing Bon Jovi? Not so much.) It's enough to make your average blockbuster actor cry into his or her spilled Cristal.

Which is why LaBeouf is so important. Unlike Daniel Radcliffe, Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson and Jennifer Lawrence, LaBeouf isn't famous for playing a trademark character. (Do you actually remember what his "Transformers" character was named?) He's famous for being himself -- and he's played variations on his hyper kid persona in everything from "Transformers" to "Indiana Jones" to "Eagle Eye" and "Disturbia." If that sounds familiar, it's because Cruise and Tom Hanks were doing almost the same thing during the '80s and '90s: They each found a note and played it over and over and over again. Cruise and Hanks became their own personal franchises. Why can't LaBeouf?

Well, because he wants to become just another indie actor who looks up to Sean Penn -- complete with the bar fights, love affairs and controversial interviews. Like the USA Today one, where LaBeouf mentioned doing acid.

"All I'm really trying to say in the most politically sensible way is, 'Thank you so much for giving me the opportunities, I would just like to make movies about people now,'" LaBeouf said, clarifying why he's leaving blockbusters behind. It's just too bad the person he wants to make movies about isn't himself.