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Beau Is Afraid Star Dishes on the Joys of Working with Joaquin Phoenix and Ari Aster

Apr 14, 2023


The reviews are in, and Beau Is Afraid is certainly making waves online. From acclaimed filmmaker Ari Aster (Hereditary, Midsommar) comes Beau Is Afraid, which hits theaters this weekend. Those who have seen the trailer might still be recovering (myself included). The highly anticipated film follows the paranoid titular man (the great Joaquin Phoenix) as he embarks on an epic odyssey to get home to his mother in a bold and ingeniously depraved adventure.

Co-starring with Phoenix as a younger version of Beau is Armen Nahapetian, who broke into the industry in 2017 with his debut role in Seth McFarlane’s series The Orville. We recently caught up with the 16-year-old Californian actor, who dished on working with heavy hitters like Aster and Phoenix. He also detailed a passion project of his that’s currently in the works. Read our exclusive interview below.
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Playing ‘Beau’ with Joaquin Phoenix

MW: Could you talk about your role as “teenage Beau” and why you were drawn to the character?

Armen Nahapetian: I was drawn to the project because — you know when you’re reading a script, and you can imagine it in your head? I got the audition, and I realized it was like a weird type of script. And I liked those more because they allow me to make more interesting choices. So I was also drawn because Beau is a lot like me. I’m quiet, I’m more observant, I overthink a lot, I’m nervous. I have to call my mom before doing simple things, like, “Hey Mom, can I sneak into school and jump off the roof with my friends?” [laughs] So it’s kind of why I was drawn to the character.

And so I play the young version of Joaquin Phoenix’s Beau. And basically, when Beau was younger, he got pretty messed up by his mom. She’s very controlling, and she kind of dictates his every mood, his every move. And this kind of made Beau develop these fears of everyday things. And all I’ve gotta say is, be careful when you’re raising your kids, because it kind of led to Beau having big problems in adulthood.

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MW: What was it like working with Joaquin Phoenix and Ari Aster?

Armen Nahapetian: Ari is a great person to work with because he knows how to talk to the actor and collaborate to get the best acting out of them. I was able to express myself freely, which was great. He affected the whole project and everyone surrounding it. Everyone was extremely kind. And it really created, like I said, an amazing environment for me to act in, so it means a lot.

Joaquin Phoenix, everything you’ve heard about him is true. He’s super humble. He’s such a nice guy. And I think he realized, or sensed I was kind of nervous about the whole process, so he made me feel good, and he still does. He would assure me that I’m doing great, and he said that my audition tapes inspired his version of Beau […] He’s super, super protective, and he’s really out there to make you feel good and feel welcome.

A24

MW: Even judging by the trailer alone, you can tell Beau Is Afraid is a special project. Was it a unique shoot for you, with all the fantastical elements involved in the storyline?

Armen Nahapetian: Yeah, it’s definitely unique. My scenes can take place on a cruise ship, but it’s not really there. It wasn’t a green screen, it was these like huge digital screens that they kind of morph together to create that cruise background. And then the stage was filled with fake pools and tables, and the colors just popped. And I was still amazed, like, “This is beautiful. Even though we’re not actually on a cruise, it still looks so real to me.” And it was really awesome. Seeing that behind-the-scenes and how it came out in the final product is just beautiful. It’s amazing.

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Kissing on Camera and Future Projects

A24

MW: Was there a scene that was particularly challenging for you to shoot?

Armen Nahapetian: There’s a scene where I have to kiss Elaine, who’s played by Julia Antonelli. This was challenging for me because I was 14. And like I said, I’m pretty nervous. And it was during COVID, I was a germaphobe. So beforehand, I was super scared, I was so nervous. My parents sensed I was nervous. So they tried to demonstrate different kinds of kissing to me, which was really gross. And the day I came in, I was so nervous. I was brushing my teeth, I was trying to practice the best I could, imagining it, replaying in my head a million times. But Ari said action, and it just kind of just happened.

MW: Are there other projects that you’re currently working on, that you’d like to share about?

Armen Nahapetian: I’m really excited about me working behind the camera. I am making a skateboarding film with my brother and my friends. When I’m not acting, I’m probably skateboarding. I’m going to different skate parks, riding my bike around town, finding different cities and spots to skate with my friends. It’s a lot of fun. And I’m just recording my life, skateboarding with my friends. Kind of like, but not as professional as [Jonah Hill’s film] Mid90s. But I really liked the movie Mid90s, and I kind of want it to resemble something like that. So I’m super excited for that. And my brother plays the guitar and drums. He has his own band, so I’m going to collaborate with him, and he could do the background music and singing. So, really excited about that.

From A24, Beau Is Afraid hits theaters this weekend.

Disclaimer: This story is auto-aggregated by a computer program and has not been created or edited by filmibee.
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