Ari Aster Teases More Projects with Joaquin Phoenix, Praises Actor’s ‘Ruthlessly Investigative’ Style

"Beau Is Afraid" could be the start of a beautiful friendship for the indie film icons.
Ari Aster and Joaquin Phoenix
Ari Aster and Joaquin Phoenix
Getty Images

There are a multitude of reasons why “Beau Is Afraid” is one of the most anticipated films of the spring. Director Ari Aster delivered massive indie hits with his first two films, “Hereditary” and “Midsommar.” And the film’s ever-so-whimsical trailer has many cinephiles curious about Aster’s ability to infuse levity into his otherwise dark style. But perhaps the biggest reason to be excited is the pairing of Aster with Joaquin Phoenix, one of his generation’s most exciting actors. 

The film stars Phoenix as a paranoid man who endures a surreal odyssey in an attempt to return to his mother after a visit goes horribly awry. Phoenix’s commitment to exploring deeply broken characters seems like a perfect fit for Aster’s depraved sensibilities — and both men say they worked very well together.

In a new interview with The New York Times, Aster and Phoenix had nothing but good things to say about their collaboration. Aster explained that Phoenix’s physical commitment to the script was a refreshing experience for him as a director.

“Joaquin is ruthlessly investigative,” Aster said. “If something feels false or not right, he won’t be able to do it. It’s not even about him refusing to do something — his body will stop him.”

Phoenix echoed Aster’s sentiments, explaining that an immediate authenticity between them prompted both to do better work.

“I knew that I could never, ever just ‘act’ in front of Ari — it’s something that I find repulsive and difficult to do,” Phoenix said. “You couldn’t do that with Ari. He would sense it immediately. It’s nice to know that you are working with somebody like that.”

While Aster told the New York Times that his next project after “Beau Is Afraid” will “almost certainly” be a Western, he did hint that he is developing another project with Phoenix. The actor explained why he is excited about continuing to collaborate with Aster.

“Sometimes it’s as simple as: I could be around you for four months because I like the way you talk about these characters,” Phoenix said. “And I can see that you have a willingness to push yourself, and to be pushed and to push back, and that’s exciting to me.”

“Beau Is Afraid” opens in select theaters on April 14 before expanding nationally on April 21.

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