When the “Transformers” star and Zack, who has Down syndrome, presented the award for Best Live Action Short Sunday night, Shia appeared to snicker after Zack took a long pause before saying, “And the Oscar goes to…” While some accused Shia of making fun of Zack, many came to Shia’s defense, including his “Honey Boy” director, Alma Har’el and Maria Shriver.
Speaking with TooFab, Zack’s mom, Shelley, echoed these statements and spoke about Zack and Shia’s “beautiful” friendship.
“I would hate to see any misconception out there. I mean, you know, Shia is just wonderful, you know, we really love him. If anything, I think they were grinning because it was hard to get the envelope open,” Shelley said, adding that Shia would “never” laugh at Zack.
“We just love Shia and the respect that Shia and Zack have for each other is beautiful,” she continued. “Their friendship is really, really beautiful. And, you know, it just, it upset me when I thought that somebody was thinking that Shia could have ever had a kind of negative attitude ’cause he’s been nothing, nothing, nothing but supportive.”
“They’re very tight. They love each other, really encourage each other,” she added. “Shia’s been very supportive of Zack as an actor, his professionalism. He’ll really seek out opportunities for Zack and did a lot with promoting the movie, you know, which, Shia always doesn’t — that’s not really his thing, but he did it for Zack.”
As Har’el wrote in her tweet, Shia had only agreed to present at the Oscars if Zack could be up there with him. “That would make sense to me because Shia does everything he can to promote Zack,” Shelley said. “I know that that would be a very typical thing for Shia to do.”
Zack, who is the first person with Down syndrome to present at the Oscars, told TooFab he had a great time at the show. And, according to Shelley, Zack met many celebs, including Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas.
For those who don’t know, Zack and Shia became close friends while filming “The Peanut Butter Falcon.” And Zack proved to be a positive impact on Shia’s life. Back when the two were filming the movie in Georgia back in 2017, Shia was arrested for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and obstruction.
However, during the press tour for the film last year, Shia said Zack saved him from what he called a “twisted” time in his life.
When asked about this Shelley said, “Shia always treated Zack as an equal, which he is. And Zack was able to express himself to Shia and they were very close. And when Shia was having a hard time, Zack [said] ‘Hey man, don’t blow it for me. This is my one chance in a lifetime.'”
“Shia promised Zack that he wouldn’t drink anymore,” she added. “And he’s never had since that day, which is really remarkable.”
Got a story or a tip for us? Email TooFab editors at [email protected].