Shia LaBeouf's Honey Boy Explores His Fraught Relationship With His Father

12 September 2019
Honey Boy, Film, Shia LaBeouf
Image: Getty

An insight into the reality of child stardom that apparently LeBeouf's parents found 'hard to watch

At 33-years-old, Shia LaBeouf is a name most of us have been familiar with since childhood. The actor first burst onto the scene as a young Louis Stevens in the popular Disney series, Even Stevens. As the bumbling, likeable Stevens, LaBeouf became a child star, even earning a Young Artist Award nomination in 2001 and a Daytime Emmy Award in 2003.

For most actors, whose tales are those pertaining to unsuccessful auditions and years spent working in various fields simply in an effort to sustain their acting ambitions, LaBeouf’s journey to stardom is almost enviable. But you need only look at those who have navigated the path from child actor to movie star to know the countless struggles it entails.

These struggles serve as the basis for LaBeouf’s latest flick, Honey Boy. The semi-autobiographical film tells the story of the actor’s childhood, particularly his relationship with his dad, portrayed in the film by LaBeouf himself as a verbally abusive and overbearing stage-dad.

Honey Boy was written by LaBeouf and is directed by Alma Har’el. In an interview with MTV News, LaBeouf said that writing the film not only saved his life, but also his career.

“I was totally lost. And quite apathetic to my whole craft and my life. Really like bottom barrel for me, which is what I needed. I wasn’t going to stop doing what I was doing until that happened to me,” he admitted to the news site.

“I found my way to survive and be able to flourish,” he added. “I feel like my best stuff has come in the last five years and none of that was studio work. I have a good group around me now. I am closer to my family than I ever have been before.”

Lucas Hedges and Noah Jupe play versions of the actor at different stages of his life and while the names are changed from the characters they are largely based on, it’s his father that LaBeouf hones in on.

In a recent interview with Hollywood Reporter, LaBeouf revealed the impact the film had on his parents after he showed it to them. He told the publication: “Yeah, my mother, my dad, they’ve seen it. It was tough for them to watch it. But I think also, they can have distance with it as well. I mean they really, more than they care about this movie they care about their kid, you know?”

LaBeouf went on to add: “They’re happy with my reaction to it, and they know I wouldn’t have shared it with them unless I was proud of it. So I think just the act of sharing it with them sorta contextualises the whole viewing experience as something that’s quite safe for them to enjoy. So they were going to enjoy it regardless of if I played it for them.”

With an impressive cast that also includes Maika Monroe, Natasha Lyonne, Byron Bowers, Laura San Giacomo, Clifton Collins Jr., and the musician FKA Twigs making her on-screen debut, the film is already garnering considerable praise.

At Sundance, it premiered to positive reviews and saw Amazon nab the flick for a cool $US5 million. It also took home the Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft at the film festival, and received a standing ovation which, it has to be said, isn’t always easy to achieve with these picky movie critics.

LaBeouf’s performance especially has attracted critical praise. Speaking to The Wrap, Alma Har’el described LaBeouf’s courage to step in as his own father as something that brought considerable challenges. “I think he’s done the bravest thing anyone could do…he played his own father with whom he has the most complicated relationship with.”

Har’el added, “Obviously, we all went through a lot of deep feelings while making the film, but nothing was too much. Everything was accepted. Whenever the demons came, we danced with them.”

Honey Boy is expected to hit theatres on November 8 through Amazon Studios.

Via GQ Australia