Amy Heckerling’s Fast Times at Ridgemont High turned out to be one of the most important comedies of the 1980s, and not just because it was the directorial debut of the filmmaker that would go on to helm cult classic Clueless over a decade later. It also marked the first script from Jerry Maguire and Almost Famous‘ Cameron Crowe, the screen debut of unknown actor Nicolas Cage and the maiden lead role of Sean Penn’s career.
The idea of an actor with Penn’s intense persona headlining a comedy seems hard to believe these days, but his performance as Jeff Spicoli saw the character become an endlessly quotable counterculture icon, and it still ranks among the finest work he’s ever done almost 40 years later. A virtual table read was recently held to raise money for Penn’s humanitarian organization, and while he didn’t play Spicoli this time around, he found a more than suitable replacement.
Most of the tabloid attention was focused on Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston both being involved, but Shia LaBeouf has unsurprisingly stolen all the headlines for his typically committed showing. The 34 year-old got very much into character as Jeff Spicoli, proving that not even the restrictions of a virtual table read could stop him from going all-in on bringing the role to life.
The actor went full Method in playing the carefree stoner, causing the rest of the A-list ensemble to break into hysterics, and you can check out some of the reactions to his work down below.
Protect Shia at all costs https://t.co/qcuSteDxOY
— Clay 🎙🎚 (@ClayOnAir) September 18, 2020
Shia LaBeouf found the good weed…pic.twitter.com/NdihbXuCX4
— Rex Chapman🏇🏼 (@RexChapman) September 18, 2020
Is Shia LaBeouf wasted or the greatest method actor of our generation? pic.twitter.com/mRMkRu5h7i
— Theatre Greeter (@TheatrePeas) September 18, 2020
When I tell you Shia LaBeouf was DEDICATED to this role. #FastTimesLive
— Dani Kwateng (@danikwateng) September 18, 2020
— 𝒢𝒾𝒶𝓃𝓃𝒶 🇮🇹 (@giannaaceto) September 18, 2020
Shia LaBeouf is single-handedly resuscitating 2020 and I’m not mad about it https://t.co/QRLhdysLiZ
— Fahiemah Al-Ali (@thisfahiemah) September 18, 2020
Shia Labeouf is Friday Zoom meeting energy pic.twitter.com/POnfzXsrWh
— Hanna Dickinson (@hansdickie) September 18, 2020
good morning to Shia LaBeouf and Shia LaBeouf only pic.twitter.com/CJExsYDoXe
— VICTOR VALLE (@victorcvalle) September 18, 2020
Shia’s mood is me anytime I get asked to do anything zoom related pic.twitter.com/O2WL6OsQYd
— Jose (@MyNameisJoseS) September 18, 2020
Shia LaBeouf is my spirit animal pic.twitter.com/n2Xl4rpixN
— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) September 18, 2020
The Fast Times at Ridgemont High table read went all in by gathering Penn, Pitt, Aniston, Morgan Freeman, Matthew McConaughey, Jimmy Kimmel, John Legend and Julia Roberts, but it was Shia LaBeouf that truly ended up stealing the show from under all of his esteemed co-stars. And if you saw the performance for yourself, you’ll surely understand why.