Ari Aster Says ‘Beau Is Afraid’ Is Like a ‘Jewish’ Version of ‘Lord of the Rings’: Joaquin Phoenix Is Playing a ‘Loser’

Ari Aster wants to put audiences in the mind of a “loser” on an epic adventure.

The writer-director detailed the inspiration behind upcoming film “Beau Is Afraid” starring Joaquin Phoenix in a new featurette, which you can watch below. The plot has been under wraps, but details are starting to come into view: It’s about a paranoid man who goes on an epic odyssey in order to get back home.

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Turns out, “Beau Is Afraid” has been over a decade in the making and is an extension of Aster’s 2011 short film “Beau.”

“I’ve been thinking about this movie for like, 10 years,” Aster said in the behind-the-scenes video shared by A24. “There’s a part of me that can’t believe we’re making this film. It’s epic, jumbo. Every detail has a detail inside of it.”

The “Hereditary” helmer added, “If you pumped a 10-year-old full of Zoloft and had him get your groceries, that’s like this movie. It’s like a Jewish ‘Lord of the Rings,’ but he’s just going to his mom’s house. I want to put you in the experience of being a loser.”

Aster continued, “I wanted to make a film where it feels like you’ve been through a life, or even through a person. I feel a great responsibility to deliver something amazing.”

“Beau Is Afraid,” which premieres April 21, additionally stars Nathan Lane, Amy Ryan, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Hayley Squires, Denis Ménochet, Kylie Rogers, Armen Nahapetian, Zoe Lister-Jones, Parker Posey, and Patti LuPone.

Aster recently told The New York Times that “Beau Is Afraid” was “the best experience of my life,” sharing, “But it also taught me how I want to work in the future — the seriousness with which I expect an actor to approach any given part.”

The “Beau Is Afraid” production lasted for over 60 days during summer 2021. The Montreal-based production also had “page-by-page screenplay analysis” on a daily basis between Aster and lead star Phoenix.

As Aster previously told IndieWire, the feature is decidedly not a horror film. “It might take me a few movies before I wind back around to [horror], but I love horror and I’m sure I’ll be back,” Aster said. Yet he added one caveat: “Head trauma will ALWAYS have a place in my films.”

For all the details on “Beau Is Afraid,” click here. The three-hour film opens April 21.

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