Shia LaBeouf opened up onstage after the world premiere of his autobiographical drama Honey Boy. “Prior to this my father and me hadn’t spoken in six, seven years. We are talking now,” said LaBeouf after the film’s Sundance debut. “I talked to him before I came in here.”
Honey Boy follows a child actor and tracks his dysfunctional upbringing at the hands of an abusive father, an upbringing he must come to terms with as a young adult.
Park City’s Eccles Theater was completely full for the movie’s Friday afternoon premiere. After the screening, the audience gave a standing ovation as director Alma Har’el and actor Noah Jupe took the stage. Together they introduced the rest of the cast, including FKA Twigs, Byron Burton and Martin Starr.
LaBeouf wrote Honey Boy as a part of his rehabilitation program. “It was in script form because that is how I can read, which is a weird thing,” he said. In the film, he plays his own father with Jupe playing the child star and Lucas Hedges playing the 20-something version of the actor.
During the Q&A, LaBeouf was asked by an audience member how the making of the feature affected his rehab. He offered: “It is strange to fetishize your pain and make a product out of it and feel guilty about that. It felt very selfish. This whole thing felt very selfish. I never went into this thinking, ‘Oh, I am going to fucking help people.’ That wasn’t my goal. I was falling apart.”
After finishing the screenplay he sent it to a creative collaborator of his, Har’el. They had worked together on the director’s sophomore feature, the documentary LoveTrue, with LaBeouf acting as the financier and exec producer.
“I sent it to Alma almost in jest and she wrote back, ‘This is it.’ We had been looking for something for a while. It felt like this was the perfect thing. There wouldn’t be much acting required or directing required.” He amended: “This is what we thought, in theory.”
“It was a very difficult movie to make because there is nowhere to go. You are just in it,” said LaBeouf of the film, which acted as Har’el’s narrative debut. “There was a lot of stuff going on for her first film to be this close to the flame.”