In an appearance on The Hollywood Reporter’s “Awards Chatter” podcast, the controversial actor spoke candidly about his troubled relationship with his father and growing up as a child star in Hollywood.
Getting his first big break in the Disney series “Even Stevens,” LaBeouf was thrust into the spotlight at a very early age — part of which added to the trauma that led to his eventual PTSD diagnosis.
While working on “Even Stevens,” LaBeouf saw the job as “an opportunity to be able to minimize the drama” in his life. LaBeouf said on the podcast he believed that if he “had more money, there’d be no fighting” between his parents — who split when the star was five.
LaBeouf then noted that Disney would cancel a show after three seasons like “Even Stevens” because they would be required to raise salaries and “Disney wasn’t trying to pay salaries like that.”
LaBeouf later flourished with big roles in “Disturbia” and the “Transformers” series — but his personal life was a shambles.
During the filming of 2017’s “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” LaBeouf hit “bottom” following an altercation with a police officer that led to the star’s arrest. During the arrest, LaBeouf made comments that were perceived as racist towards the officer.
LaBeouf felt “a kind of shame, deep shame,” he stated of the impact it had on him at the time. “I'm feeling like people on set think I'm a racist, believe I'm a racist, and I'm feeling all of that and don't want to be alive, basically.
"This was my bottom," he added.
Once production on “The Peanut Butter Falcon” wrapped, LaBeouf entered a court-ordered rehab in Connecticut, where he was officially diagnosed with PTSD.
“It was the first time I was told I had PTSD,” said LaBeouf. “I had just thought I was an alcoholic.”
As a part of his treatment, LaBeouf took part in exposure therapy, in which he was required to write down what he had been through in life.
“The stuff that’s in 'Honey Boy' comes out of these exposure therapy sessions.”
“Honey Boy” is based on the actor’s childhood and the tumultuous relationship with his father. In the film, LaBeouf plays James Lort, a character based on his father.
Upon leaving rehab, LaBeouf and “Honey Boy” director Alma Har’el worked tirelessly to complete the script and eventually presented it to LaBeouf’s father, whom the actor hadn’t seen in seven years.
“[My dad] didn’t believe that I could pull it off,” said LaBeouf.
LaBeouf’s father saw the film and agreed to sign off on his depiction, Shia noted. “He’s calmed. And I’ve calmed."