Shia LaBeouf claimed to experience ego death after being accused of abuse by FKA twigs, but one can only assume the ego is making a healthy recovery on his quaint redemption tour. So far, he’s followed the usual script from the Alleged Abuser’s Guide To Being Accepted Back Into Hollywood–playing the “father of a daughter” card, centering addiction, and claiming that recovery had saved his life (never mind that he’s played that card before after previous transgressions), etc. He’s also taken some unusual detours, like sabotaging another film’s press tour (Olivia Wilde’s Don’t Worry Darling), which, however enthralling for a scandal-hungry public, doesn’t seem like the kind of move they’d recommend in AA or in Catholic confession.
LaBeouf is assisted in this endeavor by pal Jon Bernthal, who is ending his Hot Boy Summer run (Sharp Stick, The Bear, and American Gigolo) on a sour note by inviting LaBeouf onto the podcast for some good old-fashioned reputation laundering. Mr. Bernthal, if your job as LaBeouf’s friend is to “make sure that [he’s] in a healthy process,” perhaps it’s not wise to give him an unfettered platform while he’s promoting a movie. It’s no version of restorative justice this writer’s ever heard of.
Nonetheless, the platform has been had, and after wading through quotes about “that woman” (LaBeouf’s euphemism for twigs), another character has emerged: his father, Jeffrey Craig LaBeouf. LaBeouf played his own dad in his semi-autobiographical film Honey Boy, a portrayal which he now admits to Bernthal was “fucking nonsense.”
“Here’s a man who I’ve done vilified on a grand scale,” the actor says (per The Independent). “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.”
Not only did LaBeouf lie to his audience about what his dad was like, he lied to his dad about what Honey Boy was like in order to get his blessing for the film. “Honey Boy is basically a big ‘woe is me’ story about how fucked my father is, and I wronged him,” he explains. “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 shit in there.”
“I turned the knob up on certain shit that wasn’t real,” LaBeouf continues. “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.”
LaBeouf admits that the truth of their relationship “didn’t position me as this wounded, fractured child that you could root for, which is what I was using him for.” He goes on, “So, when I got on the phone with him, I took accountability for all of that and knew very clearly that I couldn’t take it back, and my dad was gonna live with this certain narrative about him on a public scale for a very long time, probably the rest of his life.”
How fascinating that the narrative LaBeouf is now pushing about his father—that of an imperfect but innocent man unfairly smeared in a public arena—so closely resembles the narrative he’s pushing about himself. (While LaBeouf has admitted to “hurting” people, he has denied twigs’ accusations “generally and specifically” in court.) A screenwriter couldn’t write it any better.
If there is anything illuminating about LaBeouf confessing to lying in Honey Boy, it’s that his word simply can’t be trusted. Of course, he’s been well known to plagiarize since at least 2013, so this isn’t breaking news. But given his attempts to redeem himself in the public eye and his upcoming court battle with twigs, it bears reminding that he is, by his own admission, a liar who will manipulate the facts in order to craft the narrative he desires. Best of luck to him on his continued mission of “accountability.”