Honey Boy: Shia LaBeouf’s Personal Film at 2019 Sundance Film Fest

Shia LaBeouf premiered his autobiographical movie Honey Boy to warm response at the Eccles Theater on Friday night, January 25, at the 2019 Sundance Film Fest.

LaBeouf wrote and co-stars in the movie, which is set in the 2000s during the height of his Disney star fame.  It traces his strained relationship with his alcoholic father, played by LaBeouf.

The character based on himself, named Otis Lort, is portrayed by Noah Jupe as a teenager and Lucas Hedges as an adult.

LaBeouf wrote his first script after one of his stints in rehab a few years ago. “It’s strange to fetishize your pain and make a product out of it,” LaBeouf said. “And you feel guilty about that. It felt very selfish. This whole thing felt very selfish. I never went into this thinking, ‘Oh let me f—ing help people.’ That wasn’t my goal. I was falling apart.”

When director Alma Har’el first met Shia LaBeouf, she discovered that both of their fathers were alcoholics. “All children of alcoholics are my brothers and sisters,” she explained at the world premiere screening of Honey Boy, written by LaBeouf and based on his troubled childhood.

The two collaborated on a number of other projects before LaBeouf’s screenwriting debut—but this screenplay didn’t start off as a film project at all; it began as an assignment during his recovery. While in rehab, LaBeouf was tasked with writing down his life experiences, and they came out in script form simply because of his tendency for narrative. When the next step came—sharing his experiences with a friend he could trust—he sent the script to Alma.

“I sent it to Alma [as a script] almost in jest, and then she wrote back: ‘This is it.’ We had been looking for something for a while, … and it just felt like this was the perfect thing, where there wouldn’t be much acting or directing required. This is what we thought in theory [but] it was a very difficult movie to make.”

Unlike other collaborations with Har’el, where LaBeouf was relatively hands-off, “This was like gestalt therapy, so we were on top of each other from the minute I got out of rehab.”