Amid highly publicized efforts to repair his reputation, actor Shia LaBeouf has claimed that the depiction of his dad as a cruel, violent parent in his 2019 movie Honey Boy was "fucking nonsense."
Written during LaBeouf's time in court-ordered rehab, the film portrays the painful relationship of a child actor with his abusive dad, played by LaBeouf. The film is widely understood to be autobiographical and received some acclaim when it was released. LaBeouf in particular was praised for his performance as the dad, James. The New York Times called it a "bravura" — virtuosic — "incarnation of resentment."
On a recent episode of actor Jon Bernthal's podcast Real Ones, however, LaBeouf admitted that he misrepresented his father in the movie, saying he "vilified [him] on a grand scale."
"Honey Boy is basically a big 'woe is me' story about how fucked my father is, and I wronged him," LaBeouf said, calling the depiction of his dad in the movie "fucking nonsense."
"My dad was so loving to me my whole life. Fractured, sure. Crooked, sure. Wonky, for sure," he said. "But never was not loving, never was not there. He was always there … and I'd done a world press tour about how fucked he was as a man."
The actor said his dad never hit him, but spanked him once when he caught LaBeouf smoking as a child.
"And the story that gets painted in Honey Boy is, this dude is abusing his kid all the time," he said.
LaBeouf's dad, Jeffrey LaBeouf, is a sex offender who claimed he was blackout drunk during the attempted rape that he was convicted for. He disputed some of the scenes in Honey Boy in an interview in 2019, but said he and his son were on good terms.
The actor himself has made many headlines in the past for disruptive and violent public behavior while intoxicated, as well as various plagiarism scandals. He has also been accused of being violently abusive and controlling by ex-girlfriends. One of his exes, FKA Twigs — they met on the set of Honey Boy — filed a lawsuit in 2020 alleging that LaBeouf was physically and emotionally abusive when they were together, and that he had knowingly infected her with an STD. A trial has been set for April 2023.
LaBeouf said at the time that "many of these allegations" were not true, but did not specify which. He addressed the accusations on Bernthal's podcast, and said that he "hurt a lot of people."
"I hurt that woman," LaBeouf said, without naming anyone. "And in the process of doing that, I hurt many other people, and many other people before that woman."
He also said it was "manipulative" of him to never tell his "sexual partners about getting cold sores."
LaBeouf was recently embroiled in the drama surrounding the movie Don't Worry Darling, in which he was cast as the lead before the abuse allegations in the lawsuit surfaced. It was reported that he dropped out of the film early on due to an apparent scheduling conflict, but director Olivia Wilde later said she fired him because of his "combative energy" and that she wanted to protect the leading actor in the film, Florence Pugh, whom he would have played alongside with.
The actor denied Wilde's account of events in an email to Variety, claiming there was indeed a scheduling conflict and he was not fired.
"I know that you are beginning your press run for [Don't Worry Darling] and that the news of my firing is attractive clickbait, as I am still persona-non-grata and may remain as such for the rest of my life," he wrote. "Firing me never took place, Olivia. And while I fully understand the attractiveness of pushing that story because of the current social landscape, the social currency that brings. It is not the truth."