Need further proof that life imitates art? Try this: While troublemaker Shia LaBeouf was releasing a series of plagiarized mea culpas in order to “apologize” for copying the work of artist Daniel Clowes, his former Even Stevens costar Christy Carlson Romano was busy doing something mature and responsible — that is, getting married to her longtime boyfriend at a Canadian castle. Classic Louis and Ren, am I right? (In case you’re not up on your ’00s Disney Channel sitcoms: LeBeouf’s Louis Stevens was “immature, rude, and selfish.” His older sister Ren, played by Romano, was “an intelligent, well-behaved perfectionist.” It’s uncanny!)
Just don’t expect Romano to join the chorus of famous voices who have piled on LaBeouf in the wake of the scandal. “He has always kind of regarded me as his big sister,” the actress told EW. And even though the two of them don’t keep in touch, Romano said she’s still “a huge supporter” of LaBeouf.
Romano, who can be seen next in the TV movie thriller Where Fates Meet and the indie flick Prism, noted that other former child actors often have trouble rebranding themselves as adult artists. In her mind, LaBeouf hasn’t had that problem: “He’s always just honored his artistic instincts, even when he was 12 years old to about 15 or 16 as we worked together,” she said. “So this is him experimenting with his artistic instincts. This is not just some breakdown, like some other child actors. This isn’t some emotional neediness. This is something that he’s actively doing.”
Though the actress hasn’t read the provocative statements LaBeouf made about the nature of creation in a recent interview (“Authorship is censorship. Should God sue me if I paint a river?”), she has seen her ex-costar’s copied apologies — which she likens to “retweeting, but without the official retweet seal.” And though LaBeouf’s motives may be murky, Romano guesses that he’s “choosing to do this for a reason that none of us really understand right now.” LaBeouf’s “true fans,” however, “are going to understand what he’s doing, and just kind of laugh at it.”
“If I was to liken him to anybody, I would say he’s kind of got that Joaquin Phoenix thing,” she continued, referring to the Oscar nominee’s elaborate I’m Still Here hoax.
And ultimately, perhaps this is what matters most: “I think it could be so much worse, right?” said Romano. “He could be literally making a mess of himself, like some of the female actresses that are going out and showing too much skin and experimenting with drugs. These are the girls that are role models, and unfortunately they’re affecting a lot of the younger generation to come.” (And just in case you think she’s calling out somebody in particular: Romano thinks that fellow Disney vet Miley Cyrus is “a very talented girl,” but adds, “It’s a very fast paced lifestyle that Miley has chosen, and what I fear is that she won’t be able to slow down when she wants to slow down.”)
So, what advice Ren might have for Louis if this whole debacle were taking place on Even Stevens? After letting out a long, hearty laugh, here’s how Romano answered: “Ren would actually say to the people criticizing her little brother, and this is almost a direct quote from the show, ‘I can call my brother stupid, but no one else can.’ She would be more defensive, but she then would take him aside and be like, ‘You’re –’ I don’t even know what she would say to him, it’s been so many years. But I know that she would definitely defend him to everyone else. [And] if anyone’s going to call him a jerk, it’s going to be her.”