Rising star Armen Nahapetian joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about his exciting role in the new film, Beau Is Afraid. The film follows an anxiety-ridden man who embarks on a surreal odyssey home after his mother suddenly dies, confronting his greatest fears along the way.
You play a teenage Beau in “Beau is Afraid” – one of the most highly anticipated films of 2023. How excited were you to take on this role and star in an Ari Aster film?
Some memories will always stay with you for the rest of your life and being offered the role of Teen Beau from Ari is one memory I’ll still be talking about when I’m an old man! My Mom was crying, my older brother Remy was jumping all around doing the Joker dance that Joaquin does in the movie and my little Brother Marcel was hugging me! My whole family was so happy and proud of me and we went out to celebrate that night and I was in a dream, until later, when I tried to fall asleep, the weight of all of it hit me! I was like holy shit! I’m going to be playing a younger version of JOAQUIN PHOENIX IN AN ARI ASTER FILM! And then my self-induced pressure kicked into overdrive!
You play a younger version of the character Joaquin Phoenix also plays in the film. Can you tell us about your preparation for the role and how you approached the character?
I developed the character Beau a lot around myself at the time. The audition process took place during covid, and I saw a lot of myself in Beau. I was anxious, I over-thought everything, I was scared to make decisions on my own, and was a germaphobe. I took Beau, implanted some of my characteristics and habits into him, and made it my own.
How did you find the challenge of playing Beau and being involved in a Ari Aster horror?
I first found myself getting a self-tape audition for the role of Beau in 2021, and when I read the sides I found the audition scene interesting and weird at first. But not in a bad way, I love auditioning for these types of projects since they allow me to make more interesting choices. I actually auditioned with the kissing scene you got to see a glimpse of in the trailer, and for my self-tape, I kissed myself in the mirror, which was quite an interesting choice. The choice seemed to work because I went on to do a bunch of zoom meetings with Ari, and chemistry reads with actresses trying out for Elaine.
Ari Aster is one of the best horror directors of the moment, if not of all time. What was your experience like working with Ari?
Ari was such an amazing person to work with! He was so incredibly nice and genuine which made me super comfortable! He affected everyone surrounding him, the producers, hair and makeup, all the crew, literally everyone was so nice which created such a calm environment for me to express myself in. On my last day of filming, my driver surprised me with a Montreal hat! (which is where we filmed). That just goes to show how having such a nice guy at the top can affect everyone involved. Ari set the bar really high and I hope everything I work on in the future will include such caring people as well.
You’ve shown incredible range in your career so far. What type of projects and challenges would you love to take on in the future?
Thank you for the compliment! I don’t know what the future will bring but I do know that I want to surround myself with people who have a passion for what they do because their passion is contagious. I would love to take on projects that leave a lasting impression. Have you ever watched a film and there was a character who really stayed with you long after the movie was over? That’s the path I want to pursue. Playing extraordinary characters and pushing my limits as an actor.
Can you tell us about your background and how you got into acting?
Ever since I was little, my brothers and I loved the performing arts. Every Christmas Eve my family would put on skits for each other and we had so much fun and would always compete to see whose skit would be the best. One time in 4th grade my older brother Remy did a whole school play, which my parents were completely unaware of until the day of. They thought he was getting a character award but were surprised when he walked out on stage doing a solo for a song. Anyway, we really enjoyed performing together and decided to join acting classes, where I fell in love. My personality is more quiet and reserved so acting and playing different characters allows me to show different emotions and open up which I otherwise would have been too scared to do.
What do you love to get up to away from acting?
When I’m not at school or acting I am skateboarding. If it’s raining, I’m practicing tricks inside the house on my carpet board, which drives my parents crazy. If I’m away from home I’m playing skateboarding games on my phone! Needless to say, I love all things involved with skateboarding. I spend a lot of my weekends hanging out with my friends and discovering new places to skateboard. We also like to make skateboarding videos showing off new tricks and epic fails. I always try to get the best shots for my friends, and it gives me a lot of practice behind the camera.
I’m also on my school’s Water polo team, I love watching anime (especially One Piece), and I actually have a normal job at my local Mediterranean Restaurant. Working there I learn a lot about people which helps me as an actor in developing characters. Trust me when I say that everyone should have to work in food service at some point in their life. There’s a reason that the best actors out there have had jobs in the food service industry.
What are your hopes and ambitions for the future?
I’ll be turning 16 on March 24 so in my immediate future I’m hoping to pass my driver’s test to get my license! My older brother is so excited but I think it’s really because he’s tired of driving me around.
I’m really honored and grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this movie. I realize it’s an actor’s dream to work with some of the people I got to shoot with on this film. I don’t take any of it for granted. I’m planning to take what I learned from all the extraordinary people involved and continue on this amazing adventure.
Photographer: Ryan West
Groomer: Elie Maalouf
Wardrobe stylist: Benjamin Holtrop