For Honey Boy, directed by Israeli-American filmmaker Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach), actor and performance artist Shia LaBeouf takes on screenwriting duties.
Much has been made of this, given that the film is a fictionalised account of his own childhood ascent to stardom. LaBeouf headlined Disney Channel shows as a pre-teen, which led to him starring in Michael Bay and Oliver Stone films in his early 20s – all before a very public crash-landing into rehab and recovery in recent years. Many of these experiences, naturally, find their way into the script.
But if your guard immediately went up at the idea of a barely disguised autobiography – in which the writer also plays a version of their own father – rest assured that Honey Boy is no exercise in indulgent narcissism. Rather, LaBeouf’s story is a deeply humanist, tragicomic memoir about mental health and trauma.
In the film, two actors play the character Otis Lort – based on LaBeouf – at different stages of a tumultuous career. Lucas Hedges (Manchester by the Sea, Lady Bird) plays Otis as an adult, where he’s a hot-headed movie star sent to rehab after a DUI.
Most of the film, though, is set in the ’90s, with British teen actor Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) playing a younger Otis. He’s struggling with his childhood television work under the supervision of his leech-like father (LaBeouf), an ex-rodeo clown and felon who’s emotionally abusive to his son and sometimes physically abusive to those trying to help the boy.
Ahead of Honey Boy’s UK release, Huck spoke to Hedges and Jupe about ‘playing’ LaBeouf, their own relationships with child stardom, and whether they view filmmaking as therapy…