In early 2019, director Alma Har’el and Shia LaBeouf debuted “Honey Boy” at the Sundance Film Festival. Premiering to critical acclaim, the autobiographical coming-of-age drama, based on LaBeouf’s troubled childhood, ignited a close relationship between the filmmaker and the actor, who had been largely shunned by many in the industry for his erratic behavior.
Despite his well-documented checkered past of substance abuse and a string of legal woes, Har’el stood by LaBeouf’s side, frequently referencing the actor’s growth and journey through recovery, as he struggled with real-life issues and deep-rooted trauma. With compassion for those suffering with addiction and mental health issues, Har’el applauded his transformation, especially with “Honey Boy” being a form of therapy for LaBeouf, who wrote the script in court-ordered rehab. The film garnered considerable Oscar buzz and earned Har’el a DGA Award for directing her first feature film.
Two years after their collaboration, LaBeouf was accused of sexual battery by his ex-girlfriend, FKA Twigs — one of the stars of “Honey Boy.”
FKA Twigs, born Tahliah Barnett, is demanding a trial by jury in a lawsuit filed last week in Los Angeles Superior Court with allegations of sexual battery ranging from verbal abuse to violent attacks and physical strangulation.
In her first statement since the allegations were exposed, Har’el says LaBeouf’s road to recovery does not excuse any behavior of domestic violence.
The director is standing in solidarity with Barnett and Karolyn Pho, another one of LaBeouf’s former girlfriends whose allegations of similar abuse are also referenced in the lawsuit, including the accusation that LaBeouf drunkenly pinned her to a bed and head-butted her to the point of bleeding. Barnett, who alleges LaBeouf knowingly gave her a sexually transmitted disease, says the actor once slammed her against a car and attempted to choke her.
The lawsuit states, “Shia LaBeouf hurts women. He uses them. He abuses them, both physically and mentally. He is dangerous.”
In response to the lawsuit, LaBeouf has said not all the allegations are true, but admitted to his abusive nature and alcoholism. He apologized, stating, “I have a history of hurting the people closest to me. I’m ashamed of that history and am sorry to those I hurt. There is nothing else I can really say.”
Har’el is making a donation in Barnett and Pho’s names to organizations that support victims of domestic violence.
Read Alma Har’el’s full statement here:
“I have a deep respect for FKA Twigs’ courage and resilience. Reading what she endured left me heartbroken and I stand with her in solidarity. I’m sending my love to her, Karolyn Pho, all victims of domestic violence, and everyone who is trying to stop cycles of abuse.
As a filmmaker and an artist, I am drawn to stories that help us develop empathy for the messy parts of the human condition. Like many of Shia’s collaborators and fans who battled substance abuse, suffered childhood trauma, and face mental illness, I am painfully aware of my past investment in his recovery. I want to send a clear message today that none of the above should excuse, minimize, or rationalize domestic violence.
I’m grateful that survivors of childhood trauma have seen some aspects of themselves in Honey Boy and might feel less alone in their pain. I hope that they don’t take these events as a discouraging moment in their own recovery.
I will be donating in Twigs’ and Karolyn Pho’s names to FreeFrom, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and Sistah Space. I support and encourage victims in similar situations to speak up and seek help so they can create a path to safety and the healthy relationship they deserve.”
If you or anyone you know is experiencing abuse or domestic violence please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).