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Toronto: Shia LaBeouf Likens Making His Biopic ‘Honey Boy’ to an ‘Exorcism’

Variety logo Variety 6 days ago Marc Malkin
Shia LaBeouf smiling for the camera © Michelle Quance/Variety/Shutters

Shia LaBeouf is telling all. Sort of.

The actor both wrote and stars in Honey Boy, which tells the story of his turbulent childhood under the care of his alcoholic and drug-addicted father.

LaBeouf wrote the screenplay while in rehab after sharing some of his writing with his director and friend, Alma Har’el. “I was just sending her stuff that I was writing down,” LaBeouf remembered while promoting the film at the Variety Studio presented by AT&T during the Toronto Film Festival. “I had a flashlight and was rummaging through the attics of my soul trying to figure stuff out, figuring my past out…She was like, ‘Oh, this is a movie.’”

Directed by Har’el, “Honey Boy” chronicles LaBeouf when he was a child star on the Disney Channel. He lived in a seedy Hollywood motel with his father, who not only mentally and physically abused his son, but also introduced him to smoking cigarettes and marijuana before he was even a teenager.

LaBeouf would eventually find himself battling alcoholism and substance abuse. His run-ins with the law became tabloid fodder. His last arrest and eventual court-ordered rehab occurred two years ago while filming “Peanut Butter Falcon” in Savannah, Ga.

Watch: Honey Boy trailer (The Hollywood Reporter)

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In the movie, young LaBeouf (named Otis in the film) is played by Noah Jupe while Lucas Hedges plays him as an adult when he was in rehab.

Honey Boy proved to be therapeutic. “You excise demons,” LaBeouf said. “This felt a little bit like an exorcism.”

But not everyone was too keen on LaBeouf making the movie. “My whole team, my whole professional team, was not with it. They were not wanting me to do this.”

“But at that point, I didn’t have a whole lot to lose,” he said. “I was in a wild spot in my life.”

Like LaBeouf, Har’el is a child of an alcoholic. “I really feel I made this film for children of alcoholics,” she said. “They’re all like my brothers and sisters and when I show the film I kind of realize the whole world is dealing with daddy issues right now, so it’s kind of become bigger than that.”

CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 5:   Actor Shia LaBeouf arrives to the 2004 MTV Movie Awards at the Sony Pictures Studios on June 5, 2004 in Culver City, California.  The 2004  MTV Movie Awards will air on the MTV Network June 10, 2004 9 PM (ET/PT).  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images) © Getty CULVER CITY, CA - JUNE 5: Actor Shia LaBeouf arrives to the 2004 MTV Movie Awards at the Sony Pictures Studios on June 5, 2004 in Culver City, California. The 2004 MTV Movie Awards will air on the MTV Network June 10, 2004 9 PM (ET/PT). (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

As for his current relationship with his father, LaBeouf said, “He’s a very happy dude. I talked to him in the car on the way up here. He’s such a sweet old man now.”

“It’s complicated still like any relationship with a parent but we’re in a way better place and he’s in a way better place,” he said.

LaBeouf has no regrets: “Smooth waters never made a skilled sailor and the s— just sort of helped my life big time.”

Honey Boy will be released on Nov. 8.

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