FKA Twigs elaborated on her abuse allegations against actor and ex-boyfriend Shia LaBeouf in an interview with Elle published Wednesday, February 17th. Twigs, born Tahliah Barnett, filed a lawsuit against the actor in December 2020 alleging physical and mental abuse, and in the new article, she claimed LaBeouf also bragged about shooting stray dogs.
According to Barnett, the actor said killing these animals helped him “get into character” for a role in 2020’s The Tax Collector. “I said to him, ‘That’s really bad. Why are you doing that?’ And he was like, ‘Because I take my art seriously. You’re not supporting me in my art. This is what I do,'” Barnett told Elle. “‘It’s different from singing. I don’t just get up on a stage and do a few moves. I’m in the character.’ He made me feel bad, like I didn’t understand what it was like to be an actor or to do this… Method [acting technique].”
A representative for LaBeouf did not immediately respond to Rolling Stone‘s request for comment.
News of Barnett’s lawsuit initially broke in the New York Times, where Barnett said: “What I went through with Shia was the worst thing I’ve ever been through in the whole of my life. I don’t think people would ever think that it would happen to me. But I think that’s the thing. It can happen to anybody.”
She then outlined how her relationship with LaBeouf — which began after they worked together on the 2019 film Honey Boy — reportedly grew increasingly dangerous: From the actor allegedly demanding specific displays of affection, to him allegedly choking her in the middle of the night. The suit focuses on a 2019 road trip incident, during which LaBeouf allegedly threatened to crash their car if Barnett did not say she loved him.
The Elle article covers similar ground. Barnett claims LaBeouf would bomb her with love, sending her dozens of bouquets after a fight, but also allegedly controlling her interactions with other men, including waitstaff and friends. Barnett also claimed LaBeouf gave her an STD and then denied the fact. Barnett also alleged that LaBeouf kept a gun in their bedroom, and that she feared getting up at night lest he accidentally shoot her.
Barnett told Elle that she tried to privately settle matters with the actor before taking things to court, asking that he: “(1) Seek meaningful and consistent professional help to address his issues around abuse; (2) Donate money to an abused women’s shelter; and (3) Admit he had given Twigs an STD and promise transparency around his sexual health status to future sexual partners.” Negotiations stalled.
“I honestly wish I could say that I found some strength and I saw this light,” Barnett said of finally parting ways with LaBeouf. “I wish I could say, ‘[It is] a testament to my strong character,’ or ‘It’s the way my mother raised me.’ It’s none of that. It’s pure luck that I’m not in that situation anymore.”
Following the lawsuit filing, LaBeouf initially took an apologetic tone, telling the Times: “I’m not in any position to tell anyone how my behavior made them feel. I have no excuses for my alcoholism or aggression, only rationalizations. I have been abusive to myself and everyone around me for years. I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”
In February 2021, however, he denied all allegations via a statement from his attorney. “[LaBeouf] denies that Plaintiff [FKA Twigs, real name Tahliah Barnett] has sustained any injury or loss by reason of any act or omission on the part of Defendant, and denies that Plaintiff is entitled to any relief or damages whatsoever.”
In regard to Barnett’s accusations of sexual battery, “none of the acts alleged were based on sex and/or the conduct was not sexual,” the response read. As for the accusations of physical abuse, “the alleged conduct was reasonably necessary for his self-defense and/or safety.”
“Upon being confronted with Ms. Barnett’s lawsuit, Mr. LaBeouf admitted his reprehensible conduct and then checked himself into some type of inpatient treatment,” Barnett’s attorney Bryan Freedman said in a statement to Rolling Stone in response. “To the extent his five-week treatment has been focused on denials and gaslighting, he may want to revisit the type of help he is receiving. Mr. LaBeouf’s legal tact and recovery plan, while not surprising, are poorly misguided self-help strategies.”