When the trailer for The Tax Collector debuted last week, some critics voiced their disapproval over the fact that LaBeouf seemed to be playing a character of Latin-American descent.
However, Ayer has said that while LaBeouf’s character is influenced by latino culture, the actor is in fact playing a white man.
Responding on Twitter to someone who asked whether LaBeouf’s character was latino, Ayer wrote: “Really important answer – Shia is playing a whiteboy who grew up in the hood.
“This is a Jewish dude playing a white character. Also the only white dude in the movie.”
However, some people were still critical of the film’s premise after Ayer’s explanation.
Writer, producer and Pulitzer prize-nominated cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz wrote to the director: “Tell all the kids how you’re Hollywood’s top cholo auteur, and your pretzel reasons Shia Lebeouf is sort of kind of playing a weird movie cholo in a cop movie and how all of this isn’t really #brownfacing”.
Ayer’s previous films include critical flops Suicide Squad and Bright, the latter of which cast Joel Edgerton in the role of an “Orc cop” as part of a fantasy parable about racism.
Really important answer – Shia is playing a whiteboy who grew up in the hood. This is a Jewish dude playing a white character. Also the only white dude in the movie 💁♂️ https://t.co/PS6foJwQXV— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies)July 1, 2020
Shia’s not playing Latinx he’s playing a whiteboy who grew up hood and is a Southsider. https://t.co/R7JZ3Pp1K9— David Ayer (@DavidAyerMovies)June 30, 2020
His 2012 police thriller End of Watch, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña, was condemned by some critics for its depiction of almost exclusively black and latino criminals.