Honey Boy director Alma Har'el has moved to defend Shia LaBeouf after he was accused of mocking his co-star at last night's Oscars.
The Fury actor, 33, faced backlash on Twitter when he was caught on camera appearing to laugh at Zack Gottsagen, who has Down Syndrome, while they presented the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film.
As Zack opened the envelop and said, "And the Oscar goes to…", Shia appeared to laugh uncomfortably when his co-star stumbled over the name of the film.
He then read aloud over Zack's shoulder to announce The Neighbour's Widow as the deserving winner.
But some viewers were furious Shia had appeared to laugh at his co-star's moment, with one tweeting: "Did Shia Leboeuf just laugh at the Down syndrome man on stage … on live television??????????"
Another wrote: "Really uncomfortable watching shia leboeuf laughing at / being impatient with a man with special needs on stage."
But others ran to defend the Hollywood star, with one pointing out: "You must be blind he laughed cause he thought it was cute and you can tell he was really proud of his co star."
A second said: "Everyone please do your research and stop hating on Shia Laboeuf. The 'kid with down syndrome that he was laughing at' is actually his co-star in The Peanut Butter Falcon, Zack Gottsagen. He wasn't laughing at him, he was making him feel more comfortable on the stage."
Alma Har'el, who directed Shia in Honey Boy, also defended the star.
"Shia was offered to present an Oscar," she tweeted.
"He said he would do it if he can share that moment with his beloved co-star Zach Gottsagen who we all adore. It's stressful up there…"
Shia has previously praised Zack for helping to save his life after a string of embarrassing controversies culminating in his arrest in July 2017 for being drunk and disorderly in public, during which he unleashed a racist tirade against a black police officer.
The day after his arrest, Shia was on a boat with his Peanut Butter Falcon co-stars but couldn't look anyone in the eye.
It was there that Zack put his hand on Shia's shoulder and gave him a stern talking-to.
Zack "nursed me back, on a boat, during a scene where we're talking about, like, the painful past," LaBeouf told Channel 4. "That stuff hurts."
Zack told the broadcaster how he gave Shia "one chance to prove to himself: never, never, never do this kind of stuff again".
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