After a massive comeback year, the road for Shia LaBeouf hasn’t been easy. Over the years, the actor has spoken out about his chaotic upbringing. However, now, the actor is putting the history of his life in screenplay format.
Following a racist viral-videoed rant and arrest for drunkenness and disorderly conduct in 2017, LaBeouf was court-mandated to rehab. Intended as a therapeutic way to trace one cause of his alcoholism and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), LaBeouf took to pen to paper and wrote about himself and his estranged father, whom he hadn’t spoken to in seven years.
Upon sending his exercise to his friend and director, Alma Har’el, the idea for Honey Boy was born.
“I thought she was out of her mind,” says LaBeouf in an interview. “I didn’t think we could get funding. I didn’t think anybody was trying to make movies with me anymore. I was going to join the Peace Corps.”
Instead, the director found funding and Honey Boy was created. As one of the most critically-acclaimed and cathartic films of his career, in the movie, LaBeouf portrays a fictionalized version of his father.
His dad, Jeffrey LaBeouf, served in Vietnam and after found work as a rodeo clown. Though as a chaperone for his son, was filled with jealously, alcoholism, occasionally abusive. In the movie, both the portrayal of his real father and the fictionalized father appears unstable and volatile with a history of crime and substance abuse, living in a hotel with fictionalized LaBeouf – Otis, which also happened in real life.
Though, after seven years, Har’el thought before they made the movie, LaBeouf should talk to his father, who lives in Costa Rica. He did, read him the script and got his blessing, “both legally and spiritually” says Har’el.
“We’re done fighting with each other,” says LaBeouf. “I missed him terribly. We missed each other. Way more than I want to be right, I want my dad.”
Though, while “Honey Boy” was therapeutic for LaBeouf, Har’el emphasized it was cathartic for her as well.
“Being an adult child of an alcoholic or being anybody that suffered from childhood trauma at a young age had their wires crossed when it comes to love and pain. It’s a lifelong journey,” says Har’el, whose father also struggles with alcoholism. “This film, you could say it’s therapeutic but really what it was is a very big opportunity to go into that room where all the trauma happened and see it from a different perspective.”
Peanut Butter Falcon
Before the conception of Honey Boy during his arrest in 2017, LaBeouf was in the middle of filming another movie, Peanut Butter Falcon. Now, the actor credits part of his sobriety to co-star Zack Gottsagen, who has Down Syndrome.
The day after a his arrest, LaBeouf reports he was unable to make eye contact with any of the cast on the boat. However, Gottsagen, put his hand on his shoulder.
“He nursed me back, on a boat, during a scene where we’re talking about, like, the painful past,” LaBeouf said in an interview.
Gottsagen then proceeded to give LaBeouf an ultimatum.
“I was sad and cried,” Gottsagen said to Channel 4. “But I’m still gonna take a chance for myself to give Shia one chance to prove to himself… never, never, never do this kind of stuff again.”
When asked by an interviewer if he felt the film saved him, in a way, the actor was definitive in his answer.
“No, it’s not too dramatic to say,” LaBeouf admitted.
Gottsagen’s mother, Shelly, says that conversation is the reason LaBeouf hasn’t had a drink since.