Shia LaBeouf Receives Standing Ovation at Sundance for His Biopic ‘Honey Boy’

January 26, 2019

Shia LaBeouf’s world premiere of the indie biopic Honey Boy received a standing ovation at the Sundance Film Festival on Friday night. The Borg vs McEnroe actor wrote the screenplay while in rehab, basing it on his childhood and unstable relationship with his alcohol-abusing and law-breaking father. LaBeouf portrays the part of his dad, who’s named James Lort in the film. Two actors share in the portrayal of the Shia-inspired character, Otis Lort—A Quiet Place actor Noah Jupe plays Young Otis while Manchester by the Sea‘s Lucas Hedges depicts Otis as a young man with a burgeoning acting career.

LaBeouf becomes unrecognizable as he transforms into James Lort, shaving his head to create a receding hairline and donning a mullet wig, sideburns, and glasses. In real life, Shia has described his dad as “a hippy,” “on drugs,” and who was “tough as nails and a different breed of man.” Indeed, Shia used to accompany him to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings as a child. “A lot of my s*** has to do with my relationship with my dad. That dude is my gasoline … He’s the whole reason I became an actor,” Shia insists. And he grew up with his father calling him “Honey Boy.”

As soon as Shia completed the script and got out of therapy, he reached out to Alma Har’el to direct the film, but he also wanted to maintain a voice throughout the making of the movie. In addition to receiving the standing ovation at Sundance, the film was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize (Drama). And after the showing, 13-year-old Noah Jupe described LeBeouf as his “best friend” and elaborated on how their friendship affected his performance on set. “That made it so much easier on set,” Jupe shared. “And it sounds weird because obviously he was playing someone who wasn’t meant to be necessarily my friend, but because he was so close off set, on set when he was so [emotionally] distant from me, I really felt it. In those scenes, I wanted him to come give me a hug and talk to me, but I couldn’t. That really helped channel the emotion and be able to play the scenes.”

Honey Boy’s storyline spans the course of a decade, and LaBeouf says he really didn’t want to make the movie a “boo-hoo piece.”  “[Critics will say] ‘Oh, here he is not trying to own his s***. He’s trying to put it on his father,’” the Transformer actor said in an Esquire interview.

In fact, he is grateful for his experiences with his family. “My dad handed me a lot, and his legacy was an emotional one. And it wasn’t scarring. He handed me texture. My dad blessed me that way,” LaBeouf said.

Born in Los Angeles, the elementary school-aged Shia started out practicing comedy around his neighborhood “as an escape.” His act featured “disgustingly dirty” material as if he had a “50-year-old mouth” on a 10-year-old kid. But after landing an agent, it wasn’t long before he became known to young audiences for his role as Louis Stevens in the Disney Channel series Even Stevens for which he won a Daytime Emmy Award. From there, LaBeouf’s acting career blossomed with roles in films including Holes, Disturbia, Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Fury, and Borg vs McEnroe.

But LaBeouf is notorious for the steady stream of drama in his personal life including admitted plagiarism, bouts of disorderly conduct, and public drunkenness. His many bizarre and high-profile performance art projects intrigue some and repel others. So perhaps audiences will better understand the tortured soul of Shia LaBeouf after watching Honey Boy.

“You Cannot Be Serious!” Shia LaBeouf to Portray John McEnroe

May 15, 2016

At one point in his career Shia LaBeouf was the It guy in Hollywood, and a bona fide A-lister. With lead roles in films like DisturbiaTransformers, Indiana Jones and Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps, Shia established himself as a kid who could write his own ticket and sail off into a glowing sunset. However, after a series of missteps, including a couple of DUIs, an accusation of plagiarism and its subsequent apology tour, a few viral videos displaying public drunkenness, as well as a very strange motivational speech backed by a green screen, Shia has found himself in a much different place in regards to Hollywood’s grade list.

That being said, it could be argued that after tasting the nectar of success Shia simply made a deliberate decision to focus on more meaningful films, and living his life as a passionately creative person. Regardless, it is safe to say that Shia seems to embody the definition of a “tortured artist.” And curiously, the same thing was often said about tennis superstar John McEnroe when he terrorized his competitors and dominated men’s tennis in the 1970s. McEnroe was known to intimidate officials and opponents alike with his notorious temper as well as his indisputably unique racket work. And his battles with the supercool Swede Bjorn Borg are legendary in the world of athletic competition.

As it turns out, Shia has now signed on to play the notorious bad boy John McEnroe in an upcoming biopic entitled Borg/McEnroe, a film about the great and storied tennis rivalry. Notably, LaBeouf says he doesn’t play tennis and is not left-handed, but is taking lessons to portray the athletic genius McEnroe with some degree of verisimilitude.

So, the question of the day is: Do you think actors can play star athletes without having any experience in the sport they’re attempting to recreate? Or is it all about the acting? Can Ice Cube play Chris Paul? Or can George Clooney portray Tom Brady? Or is it all a bit silly watching these guys with limited athletic ability playing athletic giants? Please share!


Do You Worry About the No-Talent Police?

November 17, 2013

actor-insecurity-meryl-streep.jpg“You’re no good, you’re no good, you’re no good, baby you’re no good.” — Linda Ronstadt

“I’m no good.” “I don’t have what it takes to make it.” “I’m just not that talented.” “No one wants me to succeed.” Are these some of the thoughts that run through your head from time to time? On a monthly basis? A weekly basis? Perhaps even a daily basis? Well, you’re not alone. In fact, you’re in capital company. Some of the most acclaimed actors in the business confess to tremendous insecurity, and almost crippling fear. Meryl Streep–one of the most successful actresses of all time by any standard–says, “I say to myself, ‘I don’t know how to act–and why does anybody want to look at me onscreen anymore.’” This is quite a stunning revelation from such a laudable professional, but Meryl goes on to say,  “Lots of actors feel that way.” Mike Myers, he of Austin Powers and Wayne’s World fame, confessed to Details magazine, “I still believe that at any time the no-talent police will come and arrest me.” In her book, The Imposter Syndrome, Dr. Valerie Young claims everyone has varying degrees of self-doubt, but when the condition becomes chronic it can literally “rob you of your success and ultimately your own happiness and fulfillment.” So take heed, young Thespian, because we’re not only talking about your acting goals and ambitions, which are tantamount, no doubt; but we’re also talking about your daily pleasure, and indeed your life overall.

Actor Shia LaBeouf, who waged a fierce battle in the press with the force of nature we call Alec Baldwin, is obviously not lacking in self-confidence or chutzpa; but Shia himself admits, “Most actors on most days don’t think they’re worthy. I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew, I’d fill it, and I’d be on my way.” It’s important to understand that many talented people struggle with issues of self-esteem and self-worth; but the foremost thing to understand is that the successful ones rarely let this condition get in the way of an unyielding commitment to their art, or to their efforts in artistic execution.

What are some of the things you say to yourself that might hinder your success? Is this condition akin to the occasional cold for you or more like a chronic disease? Please share. You’ll find you’re not alone.

Behold the Compassion

March 7, 2013

The high stakes world of film, theater, and television can sometimes seem like a pretty Machiavellian endeavor. Stars are continually defending their honors and reputations on network interviews, or they’re engaging in take-no-prisoners Twitter battles with the media or their perceived rivals. Take Alec (“Listen, boy, I’m not your f***in’ chief”) Baldwin and Shia (“I’m a hustler, I don’t get tired”) LaBeouf exchange after the latter exited the Broadway show, Orphans recently due to “creative differences.” Taylor Swift recently may have damned Tina Fey and Amy Pohler to the ninth circle of hell for daring to joke about her love life at the Golden Globes this year. And Russel Crow defended his unassailable extraterrestrial evidence by calling UFO debunkers “egg beaters” (honestly, I’m not even sure what that’s supposed to mean).

But interestingly enough, the video that is getting the most juice this week is Mila Kunis’ outpouring of support for an inexperienced and unnerved BBC journalist while being interviewed for The Wizard Of Oz prequel, Oz: The Great And Powerful. Apparently, this journalist, Chris Stark, was only given ten-minutes notice that he would be interviewing Kunis in the hotel where she was staying. Mila showed extraordinary poise and unexpected compassion in helping the young man get his sea legs in a sometimes violent and tumultuous media ocean. It’s refreshing to see this kind of grace, lightness, and fun spirit in the midst of such a competitive and cutthroat industry. Besides revealing herself to be a real and supportive person, she helped this young, aspiring journalist to be seen in a positive light when he showed vulnerability. Makes you think nice guys, and gals, don’t always finish last.

Use Caution at Casting Calls & On Set

July 20, 2012

This week Halle Berry suffered a head injury while shooting a fight sequence for her new film, The Hive. After taking a nasty fall, Berry hit her head on concrete and then began to vomit—a sure sign of concussion. Fortunately, she’s been released from the hospital and is reportedly doing fine. But this story brings starkly to mind the occupational hazards of acting. Make no mistake, the movie business can be a dangerous place. We’ve read stories about actors who perform their own stunts like Tom Cruise, Angelina Jolie, Harrison Ford, and Jason Statham. And with all the preparation and support on set, it’s pretty rare that anything too tragic seems to happen. But, there are many stories attesting to the fact that, at times, things really do go wrong and someone gets hurt. Just last week, singer/actress Kristin Chenoweth was hit in the head by scaffolding on the Brooklyn set of The Good Wife, and had to be rushed to the hospital. She’s been released and is reported to be recovering at home. And also consider, Brad Pitt, Cate Blanchett, Julianne Hough, Kristin Stewart, Justin Timberlake, and Nicole Kidman have all incurred injury on set. In fact, Shia Labeouf spent hours in surgery after a car wreck crushed his hand on the set of Transformers 2. He considers himself lucky to have 80 percent use of two injured fingers.

Heck, you can even get hurt during an audition. Camera operators are like sailors with their foreboding stories of sea travels. One camera operator describes pairs of children required to “really fight” using the toy weapons to be advertised. Turns out the camera operator was the one hit with a broken toy ax blade to the thigh! The prop nailed him with such force he ended up getting five stitches. In truth, anyone and everyone in that room was at risk.

So when you go into the audition room or venture on set, stay alert and keep your thinking cap on. Make a decision as to how much you’re willing to risk or what boundaries you’re going to require. Are you the actor who must perform all his or her own stunts to feel authentic and in the moment? Or are you comforted by the director’s “Cut!” and content to allow a stunt double to complete the precarious action? Whatever your decision, remember you still won’t be immune to the occasional occupational flukes. How can anyone ever be considered completely safe when you hear stories like Gerard Butler’s suspender snapping and hitting Hilary Swank in the face on the set of the romantic comedy P.S. I Love You? She needed three stitches on her forehead!
 So fellow thespians, take heed: With all the requirements for intense drama, heavy action, boundless creativity, and increasing realism, the acting field can a dangerous business.

Casting Calls, Tough Decisions, & Regrets

July 9, 2012










When you’re an actor, you’re faced with many decisions. Should you take that pro-bono job? Should you ask for more money than they’re offering? Should you pursue soaps? Should you take that roll that typecasts you? Should you use botox? What kind of exposure will a particular role get you? There are a million questions such as these that will come your way. Of course, you care deeply about your career aspirations and you’re going to oversee these decisions better than anyone, even those you trust the most. Regardless, you’re going to make some decisions you regret—that is, if you’re human. So, all you can really do is minimize the amount of poor decisions you make. To keep your career on the best track possible, and to prevent such regrets, give thought to how you want your career to go. Be clear: What do you most want to be remembered for? What do you want to pour your heart, soul, and passion into? What roles do you think will get you where you want to go? Unfortunately, correct decisions don’t always make themselves obvious. You may despise criminals but repeatedly get invited to casting calls to read for mobsters. And some plum roles may slip through your hands; only in retrospect, will you see you made the wrong decision. You may renege on a low-profile TV role for a choice role in a pilot—a pilot, that is, that gets dropped. Acting career decisions are really a big balancing act. You want to steer your career the way you believe is best; at the same time, you don’t want to become too picky. Sometimes you’ll want to just take the work that comes your way. Just know, the best of them make mistakes, even with their teams surrounding them.

Here’s a list of actors who turned down significant roles, some because they wanted more money, some because they didn’t want to be tied up in a series, some because they didn’t agree with the social implications of the role—among many other reasons:

Shia Labeouf turned down a leading role in The Social Network and 127 Hours.
Gwyneth Paltrow turned down Titanic.
Jake Gyllenhaal turned down Avatar.
Halle Berry turned down Annie Potter in Speed.
Daryl Hannah, Meg Ryan, and Molly Ringwald turned down Vivian in Pretty Women.
Julia Roberts passed on Shakespeare in Love and Sleepless in Seattle.
Will Smith turned down Neo in Matrix.
Mel Gibson turned down The Terminator.
Al Pacino turned down Han Solo in Star Wars.
Melanie Griffith turned down Thelma and Louise.
John Travolta passed on Forrest Gump.
Tom Selleck turned down Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.
Cary Grant turned down playing James Bond.
W.C. Fields turned down the Wizard in The Wizard of Oz.