By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
I mention how Pitchfork Media leaked “I Never Knew You” in February, ahead of its scheduled release. Cage pauses and smirks, “Saboteurs. Whenever something like that happens, I think sabotage.” He holds my gaze, squinting against the sun. Trust is important with Cage, and having his closest collaborators as his closest friends certainly helps. He explains how LaBeouf came to direct this video, the beginning of a bigger partnership that will result in a feature film about Cage’s life, starring the young actor.
“When I’m collaborating with someone, there’s a lot of trust involved. [It’s that way] with Shia.... The thing with Shia started off business, and then a friendship developed from it. He followed me around on tour with a camera in 2005, which is interesting because he’d never be able to do that again now, you know? He filmed a documentary on me to get the movie going, to get his team behind what he was trying to do and educate them on the story.”
Cage recalls how LaBeouf would often wake him from a dead sleep to further his character study and gather background information for the upcoming biopic. “I’d get phone calls at 4 in the morning and Shia would be, like, ‘Did I wake you up?’ I’d say, ‘Oh, yeah, but it’s cool,’ and he’d go, ‘All right, tell me about your dad,’ the things people usually don’t talk about. With me and Shia becoming closer ... I took my guard down. Anything he wanted to know, I went there.”
LaBeouf showed his Cardboard City colors in 2007 when he threw up the crew’s CC hand sign during his first Saturday Night Live hosting gig. Seemingly overnight, everyone wanted to know more about Cage and LaBeouf’s friendship and the status of the biopic.
At first glance, LaBeouf and Cage seem unlikely friends — the New York–based indie rapper and the Echo Park–raised child actor turned Hollywood star and tabloid target. The trust factor Cage emphasizes is also important for LaBeouf, and there is a protectiveness between them that reveals two friends who both know what it is like to live under media scrutiny.
“So,” LaBeouf says to me when we meet at the video wrap party at West Hollywood’s Bar Lubitsch, “are you going to be good to my boy?”
I attempt to properly introduce myself before he cuts me off.
“I know who you are,” he says all matter-of-fact as we sit over cocktails on the bar’s smoking patio, overgrown with ivy.
With the “I Never Knew You” shoot finished, I ask LaBeouf how he’s feeling. Suddenly, the new director’s wildcard enthusiasm for his venture with Cage emerges.
“I’m 22 and I’m directing my favorite rapper’s music video,” LaBeouf says excitedly. “This shit is better than riding unicorns.”
The video for “I Never Knew You” premieres May 18 on MTV2. Depart From Me will be released on July 7 on Definitive Jux.