“Once that happens, you can’t look any dumber than you do right now,” Phoenix said of relaxing on set.
Joaquin Phoenix wasn’t afraid to do something “fucking stupid” on set.
The Oscar winner detailed the process of loosening up during reshoots for “Beau Is Afraid.”
“I panicked,” Phoenix admitted while speaking with “Beau Is Afraid” writer-director Ari Aster. The A24 podcast. “(I’m kind of) reluctant to say this, but because it sounds so fucking stupid and it’s like acting shit, but I remember and I thought what I was doing before was I was doing a scene, but I wasn’t. really volatile. I didn’t really put myself out there. I was still nervous. I kind of controlled it a little bit. I controlled what people thought of me. I didn’t want to let people down.”
He continued: “I remember realizing I had to do something fucking stupid and I just didn’t want to do it, but I just knew. And I just started screaming, just the most sore throat I could before we were sitting there shooting because I had to completely humiliate myself. Then act like, okay, once that happens, you can’t look any more stupid than you do now.
The ‘Joker’ star added to Aster: ‘I don’t know why, but I just got over the fact that I had to do it. And I think that probably made him uncomfortable. We weren’t in the same room. You were on the monitor, but I get the feeling you were very uncomfortable.
Aster replied that he intuitively understood Phoenix’s technique at the time.
“I remember I knew what you were doing. It felt like you were trying to talk yourself out of the state you were in. In fact, it didn’t even feel like a takeout. It kind of felt like you were trying to break out of something,” said the “Midsommar” author. “And I think it was shocking in an exciting way because it shook everybody. And I felt like that was good, because the energy in the room suddenly became alert and confused.”
Phoenix agreed, replying, “I think that’s what we were trying to get at. It’s like someone who’s in a confused state at that moment, and not an emotion manifests. It’s really hard to pinpoint what that person is feeling in some ways, isn’t it?
Aster replied, “It was kind of a revelation for me to learn how you work. Because I expected, before we got into this, that you would be less technical in what you do, it seems to me so often completely spontaneous and completely unrehearsed. That’s why I prepared before shooting the film, to be ready for everything to turn upside down, and it was really exciting to realize that you’re so intentional. I don’t know how not to break the spell, but to realize that you were able to do things so many times was very shocking to me.”
Aster previously recalled that Phoenix passed out on set during the final week of production. An “intense” scene involving Phoenix’s mother, Patti LuPone, led to Phoenix fainting.
“All of a sudden it went out of frame and I was really mad because it was a really good catch,” Aster said earlier. “It felt confusing so I went around the corner to the monitor and it collapsed. He passed out. And I knew it was bad because he let people touch him. People took care of him and he allowed it and was very confused. He passed out.”
During the A24 podcast, Aster further detailed the on-site experience with Phoenix.
“It blew up in my face for starting to talk about it. But I don’t think I was aware of how much you put your body through and how exhausted you were and how rough the shoot was for you until it happened with Patti toward the end of the shoot,” Aster told Phoenix. “Where we were on it, I don’t want to say what the scene was because it’s a spoiler, but it was intense for both of you, but the coverage was just him. So there was a shot of him and your hand is in the frame and you helped him through it by basically holding his breath talking him through the take. But you held your breath in solidarity. I don’t know, just to help.”
Aster added: “It was a bad sign that you allowed this kind of attention because you never allowed this kind of bashing. You really accepted it and looked concerned. You didn’t know where you were. You really passed out.”
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