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Shia Labeouf Says He Lied About Being Abused by His Father in ‘Honey Boy’

Honey Boy is a 2019 film, written by LaBeouf and directed by Alma Har’el, that was supposedly based on Shia LaBeouf’s life as a child star and his strained relationship with his father. LaBeouf portrays James Mort in the film, based on his father, while Noah Jupe portrays Otis, who is based off of a young LaBeouf. In Honey Boy, Mort is depicted as an aggressive recovering alcoholic who abuses his young son.

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Honey Boy received high praise from critics for the performances of its actors, as well as the heavy subjects it tackled. LaBeouf first shot to fame at the tender age of 14 by portraying Lewis Stevens on the Disney Channel hit original series, Even Stevens. It was a role that landed him a Daytime Emmy Award in 2013. Following his stint on the Disney Channel, he went on to star in the first three films in the Transformers series, as well as Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Fury, and Pieces of a Woman.

LaBeouf has also found himself at the center of a number of legal issues and abuse allegations. He has been arrested several times on charges of disorderly conduct, public intoxication, harassment, and battery. Additionally, in 2020, LaBeouf’s ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs, filed a lawsuit against him, alleging he had sexually, physically, and emotionally abused her. The trial for the assault case is still pending, but LaBeouf has slowly been attempting to make his way back into the public eye. He has spoken about converting to Catholicism, raising his daughter, and being sober for nearly two years. However, his latest podcast appearance isn’t casting him in the best light.

LaBeouf says he lied about his father’s abuse in Honey Boy

Noah Jupe as Otis in Honey Boy
(Amazon Prime Video)

While appearing as a guest on Jon Bernthal’s Real Ones podcast, LaBeouf admitted that he made up the parts in Honey Boy that detailed his father’s supposed abuse. As Honey Boy is best described as a semi-autobiographical film, it’s a given that some small deviations from the truth might occur. However, what LaBeouf described to Bernthal was him entirely making up the abuse allegations to embellish his film, and then continuing to push the abuse narrative as true while promoting Honey Boy. Check out his statement below:

Here’s a man who I’ve done vilified on a grand scale. I wrote this narrative, which was just fucking nonsense. My dad was so loving to me my whole life. Fractured, sure. Crooked, sure. Wonky, for sure. 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. I turned the knob up on certain s*** that wasn’t real. My dad never hit me, never. He spanked me once, one time. And the story that gets painted in ‘Honey Boy’ is this dude is abusing his kid all the time.

I wronged him. I remember getting on the phone with him, and him being like, ‘I never read this stuff in the script you sent.’ Because I didn’t put that s*** in there. My dad was going to live with this certain narrative about him on a public scale for a very long time, probably the rest of his life.

As LaBeouf reiterates, his father certainly wasn’t a perfect man. There was, most likely, some level of childhood trauma LaBeouf experienced, considering his father was an addict and a convicted sex offender. However, many are upset that LaBeouf pushed a false narrative, that his father physically abused him, possibly to garner sympathy and to promote his film.

What does this mean?

While LaBeouf expressed regret about lying, he did concede that his father will likely never live down the accusations levied against him. Not only did he lie to audiences, critics, and the media, but also to his own father. He purposely waited until after his father read and blessed the script to embellish it with the abuse scenes. Then, he waited nearly three years to clarify that parts of the film were made up and that not all of it was directly based on his life. There’s no question that claiming to have experienced child abuse to promote a film and to seek personal gain, is pretty low.

This revelation is particularly upsetting and triggering for actual abuse survivors, as many already have a hard enough time being believed as it is. The last thing they need is LaBeouf’s story to be grasped upon and reused as another supposed example of why we shouldn’t believe victims of abuse. For every person who takes the spotlight to lie about being abused to gain attention and support, there are many more actual survivors whose stories aren’t being heard.

(via: Slash Film, featured image: Amazon Studios)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is an SEO writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, YA literature, celebrity news, and coming-of-age films. She has over two years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.

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