LaBeouf based upcoming film Honey Boy on his complicated childhood. LaBeouf portrays a character named James, who is based on his father Jeffrey LaBeouf in the movie, while Lucas Hedges plays “Otis,” the character LaBeouf wrote to represent himself as a young man.
LaBeouf got his start working on Disney Channel’s Even Stevens, and at the time was living with his father, who struggled with substance abuse issues. Their relationship was complicated, LaBeouf told The Hollywood Reporter’s podcast, because he felt that he had to make money for his family in order to ease tensions between his separated parents. This situation is directly referenced in the film Honey Boy, though Disney Channel or any specific names have been changed to distance it from LaBeouf’s real life.
In 2017, LaBeouf was arrested for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and obstruction in Savannah, Georgia, when he was working on the film The Peanut Butter Falcon. In order to avoid jail time, he was ordered by the court to go to a rehab facility in Connecticut. It was in his recovery that he learned he was suffering from PTSD, due to situations he experienced in childhood.
“It was the first time I'd been told I had PSTD. I just thought I was an alcoholic, like a true blue drunk and I needed to deal with that,” LeBeouf explained on the podcast. “I knew it was an issue but didn't know there was this extra whole other thing that was hindering my ability to have any peace in my life and my ability to deal with people.”
LaBeouf work in therapy helped him tell his story on film.
“The stuff that's in Honey Boy comes out of these exposure therapy sessions,” LaBeouf shared with the outlet.
The actor explained to Deadline in a September interview how his therapy sessions led him to Honey Boy.
"You write down a bunch, dealing with PTSD and a lot of your trauma, and [what I sent director Alma Har’el] came out in script form, because that’s just how I’ve been doing this for quite a while," he told the outlet. "It’s just how I write, and I sent her the script — not even a full script, just like a conversation between two characters, a young me and my father. And at the time, I wasn’t trying to play my dad; I was just writing this thing down and then sent it to her, and she’s like, ‘One, this is a movie.’”
Check out the trailer below: