Art brings ‘Transformers’ actor to Kenai Peninsula

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, June 28, 2016 10:09pm
  • News

As anyone who was following the #TAKEMEANYWHERE hashtag on Twitter knows, Shia Lebeouf’s month-long hitchhiking trip across the U.S. ended on Kasilof Beach on Thursday.

Alaskans serendipitously ran into the “Transformers” actor and his traveling crew, artists Nastja Rönkkö and Luke Turner, at local establishments or followed the updated coordinates posted on the project’s website to track down and connect with the trio.

“(His project was) Brave, I mean seriously that is an opportunity for anyone to get murdered,” said Justina Hamlin, Front Desk Associate at the Peninsula Clarion, who met him at his last stop on the impromptu tour. “I thought it was humanistic — for somebody that high listed an actor to come up here and make themselves vulnerable for art shows how real they really are.”

It did not take too long for Hamlin, her daughter, Shae Main and a friend to find Lebeouf Thursday evening. The three headed south after work and drove to the mouth of the Kasilof River for a brief handshake and civilities.

“There isn’t much to tell,” Hamlin said, but the unexpected meeting did hold significance.

Hamlin has followed Lebeouf’s career since he first appeared on the show “Even Stevens” on the Disney Channel in the early 2000s.

“I really liked him there because he was my age and (I) thought he was cute,” she said with a laugh.

As his style evolved Hamlin said he earned from her a deeper respect by taking more serious roles including what some interpreted as a pedophilic relationship with the pre-teen Maddie Ziegler in Sia’s “Elastic Heart” music video.

Lebeouf took photos with Hamlin and her daughter along with others that came to meet up with the actor on Kasilof Beach. It was the last place he posted coordinates for the trip, which was a performance art project involving himself, Turner and Rönkkö commissioned by the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and The Finnish Institute in London.

Anyone who could make it to the group’s current location the fastest was allowed to take them anywhere.

Hamlin was among many who did not expect to meet one of their favorite celebrities where they, their family and friends go fishing every summer.

“Never in a million years did I expect to meet him,” said Rebekah Freeman, who also met Lebeouf on the beach Thursday. “… Living up in Alaska you don’t think you are going to meet anyone famous, but to find them on the peninsula.”

Freeman, with her sons and nieces in tow, spent hours that evening scouting the central Kenai Peninsula as part of a scavenger hunt arranged by Freeman and her sister Robyn Schneider. Schneider said it was an easy choice to send the family out to look for the actor. The new family dog, Shia, purchased in April is named after Lebeouf, and everyone is a huge fan of his movies, she said.

Both Hamlin and Freeman said Lebeouf was amicable and pleasant.

He took photos and shook hands with everyone, and talked to as many as he could. Freeman said her son Christopher who has autism and usually shies away from meeting new people had no trouble introducing himself to Lebeouf.

Lebeouf also looked like he had been traveling for a month straight, Hamlin said, laughing. He looked like a real person though, in sweatpants and hiking boots, and was “smiling all over the place,” she said.

Eventually Lebeouf and his group hopped into a vehicle and headed into Soldotna for dinner, Hamlin said.

While on their journey, the Take Me Anywhere crew filmed many of the people they met along the way and will eventually turn the footage into a movie aimed at showing how trust and connections can be still be made between strangers, according to interviews in Vice and posted on Turner’s website.


Reach Kelly Sullivan at

More in News

Drummers perform during a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Dena’ina Wellness Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Friday, July 12, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenaitze tribe celebrates 10 years of ‘far-fetched dream’ at wellness center

Community members recognized the work done at the Dena’ina Wellness Center over the past decade

The Kenai Safeway is seen on Wednesday, July 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai and Soldotna Safeways may be sold under proposed Kroger-Albertsons merger

The local stores will be sold to CS Wholesale Grocers only if the merger overcomes suit from the FTC

Sockeye salmon caught in a set gillnet are dragged up onto the beach at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Draft plan published for disbursement of $11.5 million in 2021 and 2022 ESSN disasters

Public comment will be accepted for the draft spend plan until July 24

The Kasilof River is seen from the Kasilof River Recreation Area, July 30, 2019, in Kasilof, Alaska. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
King salmon fishing closed on Kasilof starting Monday

The emergency order is being issued to protect returning king salmon, citing weak returns

Soldotna City Hall is seen on Wednesday, June 23, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna’s city council appropriates funds for FY 2025 capital projects

Improvements are described for streets, police facility, Soldotna Creek Park and Soldotna Community Memorial Park

Gina Plank processes sockeye salmon caught on the first day of Kenai River dipnetting with her table set up on the bank of the Kenai River in Kenai, Alaska, on Wednesday, July 10, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai River open for dipnetting

As of Tuesday, a total of 226,000 sockeye had been counted in the Kenai River’s late run

Assembly Vice President Tyson Cox speaks during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly in Soldotna, Alaska, on Tuesday, June 18, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Assembly won’t pursue further discussion on tabled bed tax resolution

Members say they’re going to work on a new version of the idea this winter

Gov. Mike Dunleavy pictured with members of the House majority after signing the fiscal year 2025 budget bills, Thursday, June 27, 2024, in Anchorage, Alaska. From left to right: Reps. Stanley Wright, Tom McKay, Thomas Baker, Craig Johnson, Kevin McCabe, Julie Coulombe and Laddie Shaw. (Photo provided by Office of the Governor)
Dunleavy signs capital budget with $3.7M in state funding for Kenai Peninsula, vetoes $3.3M

Roughly $90 million in federal funding also allocated to Kenai Peninsula

Alaska State Troopers logo.
Soldotna man arrested Friday after 30-minute police chase

The man had an outstanding warrant for felony probation violation

Most Read