Shia LaBeouf says making biopic about his life was like 'an exorcism’

Shia LaBeouf
Actor Shia LaBeouf attends a hearing at the Manhattan Criminal Court in New York July 24, 2014. |

Actor Shia LaBeouf is gearing up for the release of a movie about his life where he plays his own dad and compared the experience to "an exorcism" which has now brought him freedom. 

LaBeouf began writing the movie, “Honey Boy,” during a stint in rehab where he was dealing with some of his own substance abuse issues in 2017. While there, he had a “flashlight on rummaging” through the things in “his soul” and began writing the script. 

The movie is based on LaBeouf’s childhood as a young actor working on the Disney Channel and the physical and mental abuse he experienced from his father, Jeffrey. The Vietnam veteran struggled with alcohol and drug addiction and would often take his son to AA meetings growing up.

It was LeBeouf’s father who introduced him to cigarettes and marijuana at a young age.

When asked why he was so happy now, the longtime Hollywood star told Variety, “You excise demons.” 

He said playing his dad, who is renamed Otis in the movie, “felt a little bit like an exorcism.”

The 33-year-old said now that “Honey Boy” is over, “it’s kinda freeing, this whole thing.” 

LaBeouf revealed that he was advised not to make the movie but director and friend Alma Har’el, whose parent was also an alcoholic, jumped on board and convinced him to go for it and even play his father in the film.

“My whole team, my whole professional team, was not with it. They were not wanting me to do this,” he explained.

“But at that point, I didn’t have a whole lot to lose. I was in a wild spot in my life.”

LaBeouf was in rehab following his arrest for public drunkenness, disorderly conduct and obstruction. At the time he was making the film “Peanut Butter Falcon” in Savannah, Georgia. 

It was LaBeouf's arrest that reportedly prompted his co-star at the time, Zack Gottsagen, who has high functioning Down syndrome, to confront the actor with some truths that he holds to this day. 

“To hear him say that he was disappointed in me probably changed the course of my life … Zack can’t not shoot straight, and bless him for it, ’cause in that moment, I needed a straight shooter who I couldn’t argue with,” LaBeouf told Esquire magazine.

The passionate new actor took LeBeouf’s troubling behavior as an opportunity to share God with the religious skeptic. 

“We were getting ready to do a scene and Zack said, ‘Do you believe in God?’ And I thought, No f------ way are you about to explain God to me, Zack.’ LaBeouf tried to keep it together as his voice jumped an octave. ‘Zack said, ‘Even if He’s not real, what does it hurt?’” LaBeouf continued. 

He added, “I don’t believe in God. But did I see God? Did I hear God? Through Zack, yeah. He met me with love, and at the time, love was truth, and he didn’t pull punches. And I’m grateful, not even on some cheeseball s--- trying to sell a movie. In real life. That motherf----- is magical.”

LeBeouf, who claims to not believe in God, said in a 2014 interview with Interview Magazine that he became a “Christian” while filming the movie “Fury” alongside Brad Pitt and David Ayer.

While in his court-ordered rehab, the former Disney star was diagnosed with PTSD and has now reportedly cleaned up his life.

LaBeouf and his father currently have a much better relationship and although he was afraid of how his dad might react to “Honey Boy,” the actor said he’s been cool about everything.

“He’s a very happy dude. I talked to him in the car on the way up here. He’s such a sweet old man now,” he told Variety.

“It’s complicated still like any relationship with a parent but we’re in a way better place and he’s in a way better place.”

“Honey Boy” is already receiving rave reviews and will hit theaters on Nov. 8.

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