"Man, I went through, like, an existential crisis, which turned into some explorations. I had some hiccups, some judgment errors," he said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show Friday.
Speaking thoughtfully to DeGeneres, the 28-year-old former child star made no excuses for several eyebrow-raising incidents over the past year, including a June arrest for disorderly conduct for disrupting a Broadway performance of Cabaret. Once inside the police station following the arrest, the Fury actor yelled, "Do you know who I am?" and then spat at an officer's feet.
LaBeouf got treatment for alcohol abuse after the arrest, and pleaded guilty in court last month in a deal that involved no jail time or probation based on his cooperation and treatment since the arrest.
The actor spoke frankly about the arrest on the talk show, and credits his brief time behind bars with scaring him straight.
"Jail was quite scary," he admitted. "I was there for, it felt like forever, I think 24 hours, 25 hours."
LaBeouf said it wasn't his first time in jail, but "this [was] the worst time. I really went all the way with it – they put a Hannibal mask on me and a lead jacket. It was just really rough."
He even addressed the police officer he spat on while on the show. "If you're watching, dude, I'm sorry. That was crazy, man."
Earlier in the year, LaBeouf also made headlines when he abruptly left a February press conference in Berlin for the movie Nymphomaniac Volume I and then wore a paper bag over his head that read "I am not famous anymore" at the red-carpet premiere.
On Ellen, LaBeouf seemed at peace with his mistakes and got philosophical about the root of his issues – even refusing to criticize people who might have made fun of him online.
"I got into this industry 'cause I had this void," he said. "I'm a kid of abandonment thing ... so I thought being good at being an actor would somehow fill that void ... So people online making the comments just want to make a mark. So I think we suffer from the same thing, which is just a lack of … attention and love."
Now, LaBeouf credits his mother, Shayna, and his daily 12-mile runs with keeping him on the right path.
"A lot of things: connecting spiritually, but also a lot of running, a lot of physical. Running is big in my life," he said. "It's become like my salvation."