Let me start off by saying how much I loved director Alma Har’el’s Honey Boy. The fantastic film was written by Shia LaBeouf and the semi-autobiographical drama pulls no punches as he draws back the curtain on his childhood in Hollywood and his complicated relationship with his father (who LaBeouf plays in the film), told across different time periods. One part sees Lucas Hedges playing a character named Otis Lort (it’s clearly LaBeouf), who has landed in rehab after a traffic accident. The other part has Noah Jupe playing the younger Otis when he’s working on an unnamed TV show (it’s most likely Even Stevens) and living with his abusive father (LaBeouf), who is also his acting coach. One of the many reasons why I loved the film is Har’el’s feature narrative debut always feels authentic and every performance is pitch-perfect. I can’t recommend this movie enough.
A few days ago at a Los Angeles hotel, I sat down with Shia LaBeouf, Alma Har’el, Byron Bowers, and Noah Jupe for an exclusive interview. Usually, when you talk to a large group it can be difficult to keep everyone engaged in the conversation, but it was clear right from the start that they all loved working with each other and share a special bond. They talked about fun moments from filming, how they prepared for their roles, how difficult was it for LaBeouf to tell his story, what it was like for him to play his father, what they were most concerned about with the limitations of a 20-day shoot, and so much more.
If you’re curious how Honey Boy was made or just want to watch a really fun interview, you’ll enjoy this conversation. Check out what they had to say in the player above and below is what we talked about.
- How much I loved the script.
- How difficult was it for LaBeouf to want to tell his story?
- How they decided to start the story where they did.
- On what they did to prepare for these roles.
- What it was like for LaBeouf to play his own father, and working with Jupe.
- What were they most concerned about with the limitations in front of them on a 20-day shoot?
- On the some of the fun moments they remember from the set.
- Was the motorcycle shot done in one take?
- How long was the first cut as compared to the final version?
- On the last thing cut before picture-locking.
- On what it was like seeing their performances on screen for the first time, and preferring certain takes over others.
Here’s the official synopsis for Honey Boy:
From a screenplay by Shia LaBeouf, based on his own experiences, award-winning filmmaker Alma Har’el (Bombay Beach, LoveTrue) brings to life a young actor’s stormy childhood and early adult years as he struggles to reconcile with his father and deal with his mental health. Fictionalizing his ascent to stardom, and subsequent crash-landing into rehab and recovery, Har’el casts Noah Jupe (A Quiet Place) and Lucas Hedges (Boy Erased, Manchester by the Sea) as Otis Lort, navigating different stages in a frenetic career. LaBeouf takes on the therapeutic challenge of playing a version of his own father, an ex-rodeo clown and a felon. Dancer-singer FKA twigs makes her feature-film debut, playing neighbor and kindred spirit to the younger Otis in their garden-court motel home. Har’el’s feature narrative debut is a one-of-a-kind collaboration between filmmaker and subject, exploring art as medicine and imagination as hope through the life and times of a talented, traumatized performer who dares to go in search of himself.