Why We Don’t See Much Of Natasha Lyonne As Shia LaBeouf’s Mom In Honey Boy

Photo: Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic.

Shia LaBeouf has been very upfront about the fact that Honey Boy is all about him working out his daddy issues. That's why he plays James, a not-at-all-veiled version of his real-life father, Jeffrey LaBeouf, opposite Noah Jupe as Otis, a.k.a. young Shia. But who is that on the phone fighting with James? It's none other than Natasha Lyonne giving voice to Otis' (and thus Shia's) mother.

"You see her actually for a minute, when she's driving Lucas Hedges [as adult Otis] to rehab, she's in the car with him," director Alma H'arel told Refinery29. "There was a minute where there was more to this part. Initially, the script was told in a linear way, and then we re-edited it, and went back and forth, and actually opened with Lucas. So, we had to drop some of it. The way Shia wanted to explore this and write it, was about the lack of [a] mother. Shia's mother is the most important person in his life. This is about the period in his life where he got traumatized from not having a mother, and being under the masculine influence.”
If ever there were a sequel, I would like to see more of Lyonne on screen depicting the life of LaBeouf's mother, Shayna Saide LaBeouf, which very well might be movie worthy on its own.
Shayna Saide grew up on the Lower East Side of New York City. The bio on her website says her father, Shia Saide, was an artist, performer and barber from Poland, and her mother, Malki Rosen, was from a Russian Jewish family. Her first career was as a modern and jazz dancer, touring the U.S. and Europe. Interestingly, early interviews with Shia all say she was a ballet dancer. Either way, she stopped dancing at some point in the '80s.
In an interview with Esquire last year, Shia said his mother also ran a head shop in the East Village at some point before she moved to California. That's when she began making a living selling fabric and jewelry in the Los Angeles area.
We can gather from Shia's version of events that Shayna's marriage to Jeffrey LaBeouf was marred by his addiction and their financial troubles.
"Finance drove my family apart because they were co-owners in a fashion company that fell apart," Shia told Parade of his parents' divorce, which happened when he was about 5. "And my mother blamed my dad for it, you know, blamed him for wrecking it all. My mom and my dad, and vice-versa — it’s back and forth. It may not be the sole reason for the split, but it is the superficial reason. It’s the surface reason that you can point at and go, ‘That’s the reason.' ”
When Shia was in rehab in 2017, he was diagnosed with PTSD from his childhood. Though Honey Boy is all about how his father is at the root of much of that trauma, he cited another specific incident in that Esquire interview. When Shia was 9 years old, he and his mother were living in a neighborhood called Tujunga in the San Fernando Valley, which was dominated by biker gangs. One day, Shia overheard a man raping his mother.
"I froze,” he told Esquire. “The man ran out, and my mom ran after him."
A neighbor friend tried to go after the man with a crossbow, but the attacker was never found. In rehab, Shia said he realized how this trauma was connected to his first arrest.
"Some guy bumped into my mother’s car with his car in a parking lot, and my head went right to ‘You need to avenge your mother!’ " he said. "So I went after the dude with a knife."
Shayna wasn't initially onboard with her son's plans to act and wanted him to stay in school and become a doctor. But she didn't stop him from acting, either. When he landed Even Stevens, she sent her son to live with his father in a motel, so they could be near the studio. That turns out not to have been the best decision, as we can see in Honey Boy.
Today, Shayna's life seems comparatively calm. Around the time her son became able to support her, she turned to her visual art full time. She makes bags, belt buckles, brooches, and wall art that mix old Renaissance-style paintings with gems, paper, and other materials.
"The subject matter is, boldly, the representation of the Primordial Mystery as incarnated in the magical child, the evanescent life of butterflies, the preciousness of nature, and the wisdom of the Eternal Feminine," states her website.
Well, that should tell you exactly where Shia LaBeouf got his penchant for grandiose statements.
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