Becoming Shia LaBeouf: ‘Honey Boy’ star Noah Jupe on playing a cinematic version of the Hollywood enigma

"Shia is very mesmerising to be around. Although he's really subtle, he's also quite magnificent. He sticks out at the same time."

What had you achieved at 14? Completed Call Of Duty for the 12th time? Tackled your way onto the school football team? Perhaps you played at an open mic night in the local pub? Whatever small triumphs came your way, we’re willing to bet none of them stack up to Noah Jupe’s mighty honours list.

Born and raised in north London, the rising actor has already starred in nine feature films and six TV series. And these aren’t bit-part roles on shows nobody watches – the lad’s worked with the likes of the Coen Brothers (Suburbicon), John Krasinski, Emily Blunt (A Quiet Place), Will Ferrell (Holmes & Watson), Matt Damon, Christian Bale (Le Mans ’66), Tom Hiddleston (The Night Manager) and Eva Green (Penny Dreadful). Not a bad start, right?

His latest role, in Shia LaBeouf‘s heartrending self-portrait of life as a child star Honey Boy, is perhaps Jupe’s most impressive yet. We chatted to the boy wonder about lucky breaks, coping with stardom and taking Shia to the movies.

Advertisement

When did you first meet Shia LaBeouf?

“I was walking to the production company and he was sat outside on his truck. I went over to him and said, ‘Hey, I’m Noah’ and we shook hands and he offered to run lines with me. Then he took off his hat and put it on my head, which felt like the passing of the baton. It was quite intimidating for me because I hadn’t really heard of Shia before. I just knew that he was a very well known actor. So it was kind of scary for me, but when he did that [with the cap] all the fear escaped and I trusted him from that moment on. We ended up having the whole audition in the car park next to Shia’s truck with the director and the producers!”

Do you think that helped you get the part?

“Honestly, I sometimes think that if he hadn’t been out there learning lines the audition might not have gone as well. Would he have put the hat on my head? I don’t want it any other way because it was perfect the way it was.”

You share a lot of screen time with Shia in Honey Boy – did you hang out off-set too?

“We would go and juggle a lot in the park [similarly to scenes in the movie]. I also took him to see Avengers: Infinity War at the Grove Theatre in LA. It was the first Avengers movie he’d seen since Iron Man and he thought it was very good, actually. I think he went to see Avengers: Endgame of his own accord after that!”

Did you not get stopped by fans?

“To be honest, Shia sometimes got stopped but he’s really subtle with what he wears. He walks really quickly and sharply and moves around in this fast manner that means he’s too quick for you to make out who he is. He’s always wearing his cap and he’s always a little bit hunched over.”

Noah Jupe
Noah Jupe in ‘A Quiet Place’. Credit: Paramount

Shia was a child actor too – did he give you any advice on making the jump?

Advertisement

“He just said to make sure you keep your family close and make sure you keep them safe. But as long as you’ve got those people just be free and make sure you keep loving it, because if you don’t love it anymore it’s not something you want to be doing.”

“I took a lot of it from his mindset and the way he talks to people. He’s so polite and he’s so generous. You could watch him talk all day. Shia is very mesmerising to be around. Although he’s really subtle he’s also quite magnificent. He sticks out at the same time.”

Some of the scenes in Honey Boy are inspired by Shia’s time on Even Stevens – are you a fan?

“I’d never seen it before actually. I watched the first episode and in the next three weeks I pretty much binged every single season. I’m now one of its biggest fans! The line producer from Even Stevens came on-set so we heard a few stories from him. He was describing Shia’s dad, saying that what you see on screen in Honey Boy is what he was like. Shia did such a good job of impersonating him.”

Cast of Even Stevens
Shia LaBeouf and the cast of ‘Even Stevens’. Credit: Disney+

Did you get to meet Shia’s actual dad?

“Yeah, but it was very quick. We talked about the movie and he told me I should be very proud. He actually saw the whole thing and Shia FaceTimed him at the same time as he was watching it. Our chat was very short and sweet, but it was good to see him and put a name to the face.”

Noah Jupe
Shia LaBeouf in ‘Honey Boy’. Credit: Amazon Studios

‘Honey Boy’ is in cinemas now

Advertisement
Advertisement