David Ayer denies Shia LaBeouf is 'brownfacing' in 'The Tax Collector'

Raechal Shewfelt
·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read
Shia LaBeouf stars in "The Tax Collector." (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)
Shia LaBeouf stars in "The Tax Collector." (Photo: Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Shia LaBeouf’s new movie, the crime drama The Tax Collector, isn’t expected to be released until August (UK release date TBC), but it’s already causing controversy.

The trailer for the latest from director David Ayer, who also helmed Street Kings, End of Watch and Suicide Squad, promptly led social media to ask why LaBeouf is “brownfacing.”

Ayers himself appeared to respond, but his answer didn’t stop the debate. He said that he “grew up hood,” even though he’s white, because Chicano culture is inclusive. Still, his comments sparked a conversation about whether a Latino actor should have been cast instead of LaBeouf. There was also talk about whether LaBeouf is, in fact, the lead.

In the trailer, LaBeouf is the actor featured most prominently and he plays the character mentioned in the movie title, but actor Bobby Soto, who is Latino is often alongside him and also featured on the movie poster.

That didn’t stop the criticism.

Yahoo Entertainment has reached out to both Ayer and LaBeouf for comment.

The casting criticism comes as the entertainment industry and others have a racial reckoning. Just last week, white actors Kristen Bell and Jenny Slate announced separately that they would no longer voice characters of colour on animated shows.

There was news that former shows Mad Men and Golden Girls would include a disclaimer about blackface when they air in reruns. And celebrities including Jimmy Fallon and Tina Fey, apologised for any pain they caused by using blackface on previous shows.