Independent film actor Ben Foster will replace Shia LaBeouf in the Broadway play "Orphans," the producers said on Thursday, as the sudden exit of the young Hollywood star turned into an intriguing off-stage drama.
LaBeouf, 26, best known as the star of the "Transformers" franchise, was set to make his Broadway debut alongside Alec Baldwin in "Orphans" in April.
But after weeks of rehearsals, producers announced on Wednesday that LaBeouf was leaving because of "creative differences."
Foster, 32, is best known for his performances in "Alpha Dog" and "The Messenger," and box office hits "X-Men: The Last Stand" and "3:10 To Yuma."
LaBeouf responded to the producers' announcement by posting on Twitter numerous private emails sent by him, the producers and the cast of "Orphans," revealing problems between himself and Baldwin.
In one email exchange, LaBeouf apologized to Baldwin, saying, "Alec, I'm sorry for my part of a disagreeable situation."
Dan Sullivan, the play's director, told LaBeouf in a reply: "Alec is who he is. You are who you are. You two are incompatible."
Baldwin also replied to LaBeouf, saying: "I've been through this before. ... I don't have an unkind word to say about you. You have my word."
Former Disney Channel child actor LaBeouf was set to play Treat, an orphaned brother who kidnaps an older man (Baldwin), in a play that explores the human condition.
The role was seen as part of LaBeouf's transition from blockbuster action movies into more serious roles.
British actor Tom Sturridge, who is playing the role of Treat's younger brother, Phillip, was stunned by LaBeouf's departure from the play, and appeared to have tried to reverse the decision.
"I went in this afternoon and they were all there ... producers etc. I said my piece, but they didn't really listen. I don't understand what has happened here," Sturridge wrote in another email posted by LaBeouf on Wednesday.
On Thursday, LaBeouf tweeted his support for Foster, saying, "BEN FOSTER IS A BEAST. HE WILL KILL IT."
(Reporting By Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Jill Serjeant and Stacey Joyce)