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 firstname.lastname@example.org.