Honey Boy: Shia LaBeouf annotates the pivotal phone scene from his autobiographical new film
Shia LaBeouf knew exactly what he wanted from a movie while writing the Honey Boy screenplay. “I don’t really give a f— about set pieces, and I don’t care about plot. I’m an actor whore. The only thing I like about movies is people, so I spent all my time writing dialogue.”
The autobiographical film, directed by Alma Har’el, centers on LaBeouf’s alter ego Otis (Lucas Hedges) during a court-ordered rehab stint, and in flashback, unpacking his traumatic relationship with his father (LaBeouf) during his time as a child actor (played by Noah Jupe).
Finishing the script required LaBeouf to travel to an automotive shop in Central America and read it to his fugitive father. While the actor says their last meeting nearly a decade prior had ended with his father losing some teeth, the visit went well. “Somehow I think the productivity of what was underneath us sort of rose up through the floors, and we were working on us like a car. It felt like quite mechanical,” LaBeouf explains.
Still, in the last moments of the trip, LaBeouf had to admit to his dad that the script was being made into a film. “He looks over to me, his eyes well up, pride starts thumping in his chest, and he says, ‘Well alright, make me look good honey boy.’”
Here, LaBeouf breaks down one of the key scenes in Honey Boy that illuminates the relationship him and his parents all had with each other. (His numbered annotations can be found below.)
1. “What I remember of my parents’ romance was pushing of buttons and volume,” says LaBeouf
2. “I never wanted to write my mother because it felt sacred past anything I wanted to f— with, and then Alma told me that it’s necessary, and we had talks about it, and I came to the middle ground where I said ‘but you can’t ever show my mother.’”
3. “I wanted to play with the idea that one is always acting, that there is no action and cut, and that in life you’re constantly performing and that I would use my life in my work even then.”
4. “I wanted to show a young actor preparing in the midst of the drama of my domestic life, which informed my set life, and made me who I was on film.”
5. “Natasha has the sensibility and soul of my mother. Natasha came in after we shot it and those scenes.
6. “This a way of getting to some exposition about my father’s history as a felon and the relationship between him and my mother.”
7. “They had different languages and Otis is the translator.”
8. “These are two people whose languages of love lead to drama, which feels a lot like hugging and kissing and romance. . . They’re addicted to each other and severely codependent.”