Armen Nahapetian stars in Ari Aster’s new film Beau Is Afraid alongside the unparalleled iconic Joaquin Phoenix. In the movie, the resemblance between the two actors is so uncanny that many got to think Armen Nahapetian was a de-aged version of Joaquin Phoenix or even an AI or a VFX kind of trick.
However, Armen Nahapetian is a young actor who comes from a family of artists with a multicultural legacy, and he came here to share with us a little about how acting allowed him to discover he is brave enough to go for his dreams, defend his legacy, swim against the stream, and overcome inner fears. Beau Is Afraid just became an instant classic, so we invite you to join the conversation and enjoy this opportunity to know Armen Nahapetian in an up close and personal way, only here on Vanity Teen.
JV: What can you tell us about you and your origins?
AN: I come from a crazy, loving family!
I’m the middle of three boys and was given the name Armen as a reminder of my Dad’s heritage. He was born in Iran after his Armenian Father’s family was displaced during the Armenian Genocide.
My Dad and his family then came to the United States as refugees and had to start over completely. They had to make a new life for themselves. Because of this, my Dad has always been a hard worker and makes me never take the life he has built for us for granted.
My Mom’s family is mostly French, and that is where my Brothers Remy and Marcel get their names.
As the only person in my family with an Armenian name, I feel very proud and gracious to carry that honor.
JV: Since you come from a multicultural family, according to what you know so far, what are the perks of such cultural awareness at a young age?
AN: Being raised multicultural, I’m not so quick to judge. I’m accepting of different types of people and different ways of life. I’m sympathetic to the various struggles that people have.
I’ve grown up knowing tolerance which has really helped me in acting. Just because something is different doesn’t make it wrong!
JV: What were the reactions of your family and close ones when you decided to pursue a career in acting?
AN: My brothers and I grew up loving the performing arts, so when my older brother Remy wanted to get into acting classes, I did too; then, of course, my little brother Marcel joined.
Even though I was a creative child, I was very quiet and observant. Acting allowed me to express myself in ways I wouldn’t have been brave enough to do on my own. I loved the way it made me feel, so I knew it was what I wanted to pursue.
My mom had gone to a fortune teller in New Orleans when I was a baby, and the fortune teller told her all her sons would be performers in some capacity. I’m very lucky to have the support of my parents and brothers!
Beau Is Afraid
JV: Your latest project is Ari Aster’s film Beau is Afraid. I love Ari Aster; however, could you watch his previous films? What does this experience mean to you?
AN: My mom went to film school at UC Santa Cruz (go Banana Slugs!), so she was always open to letting me watch all kinds of films from different genres, including Ari Aster. That was pretty cool considering a lot of my friend’s parents didn’t let them watch horror films like Hereditary and Midsommar, but I could!
I loved Ari’s films, so when I found out I was going to be working with him, it was a huge honor. The entire experience was life-changing and allowed me to grow as an actor and in my real life.
JV: How about the cast? The film has a lot of legendary actors like Joaquin Phoenix, Amy Ryan, and Nathan Lane. How did you manage your emotions while filming this movie?
AN: Joker is one of my favorite movies, and Joaquin is one of my favorite actors, so I put enormous pressure on myself. I wanted Joaquin to be proud of my performance. Thankfully, I think I made Joaquin proud because on my last day of filming, he and I had a talk, and he told me that he based a lot of his character Beau on my audition tapes. His affirmations meant the world to me!
JV: What else would you like to share about Beau is Afraid?
AN: Beau Is Afraid holds a special place in my heart because as Beau faced his fears, so did I.
We started filming around the height of COVID, and at that time, I was anxious, a germaphobe, and fearful of a lot of things. Throughout the film, Beau has to face his fears, many of which I share with him.
As we filmed, I grew as a person and became less scared by facing Beau’s fears.
In one of the scenes, I must kiss a girl, and I had never kissed anyone in my whole life, so I was extremely nervous. My parents tried to demonstrate different kinds of kissing to calm me down, which only disgusted me more. Eventually, the day came, and I was doing everything to make my breath smell good; my stomach hurt so bad from nerves I thought I was going to throw up, but it happened quickly, and everything was okay!
I woke up the next day feeling perfectly fine, and what do you know, I didn’t get a kissing-transmittable disease!
Movies allow us to relate and come together!
JV: I know you like to get involved with social causes that support the Armenian people. Would you like to tell me a little more about it?
AN: There has been very little awareness about the Armenian Genocide.
I have never been taught about it in school, and if you ask most teenagers, they will have no idea what you’re talking about.
I hope awareness about the topic can be spread throughout the youth of my generation. The Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day is April 24th, days after Beau is Afraid releases on April 21st. I hope to use the momentum of the film to also help remind people what Armenians went through.
JV: What other plans do you have for the future?
AN: Just recently, I read Matthew McConaughey’s book Greenlights. I feel like he gained a lot of experience and knowledge traveling the world, which, in return, enriched his acting.
I think I could also learn valuable life lessons by traveling and experiencing new types of people and cultures.
I hope to travel to Armenia, Australia, France, Nicaragua, South Africa, and other less-known places off the beaten path.
JV: Which words do you have for those who, no matter their situation, find comfort, hope, and joy in movies?
AN: Movies allow us to relate and come together! That is especially important in today’s world. Impactful films and dynamic characters enable us to escape.
I’m grateful that I can be a part of giving people comfort, hope, and joy. I hope people can find these feelings and more within Beau is Afraid. Actually, I know for a fact that people will experience a wide range of feelings after watching Beau Is Afraid!
JV: I know you cannot say much about the movie yet, but I am Venezuelan, and I could not stop being shocked when I saw the Venezuelan flag on the trailer. (Laughs).
AN: I saw Jeeves wearing the Venezuelan flag shirt too! Shout out to Venezuelans! I should add it to my list of places to visit!
Correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the things the blue color on the Venezuelan flag stands for is courage, perseverance, and the deep blue sea. Without saying too much, water will is an important theme in Beau Is Afraid. That’s just my take on it, and no one really knows except the genius himself, Ari Aster, who has meaning and symbolism behind every last detail in this film.
JV: You are very right! Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
AN: Being a teenager isn’t easy, but I hear it gets better. We have to be kind to ourselves and each other because we are the future.
Thank you for taking the time to learn about me. You can find me on Instagram at @Armen.Nahapetian.
Before we go
Having this conversation with Armen Nahapetian made me recall the glorious beauty that comes to life when you overcome situations that make you feel insecure, inadequate, or with your identity shaken. But most importantly, he made me realize that acceptance and doing what passionates you the most are crucial when you desire to show yourself that you are worthy and that all of your individualities can give you the strength to be brave enough to achieve life wellness one day at a time.
Many of us have close relatives, parents, or ancestors who had no choice but to deal with life injustices, emigration, hatred, and phobias. Even others still face similar situations nowadays, so let us be kind to ourselves and others as we spread love and tell stories about who we are and where we come from. We never know who needs to listen and feel encouraged by our legacies.
Beau Is Afraid is out now, so if you have the chance, do not miss the opportunity to watch Armen Nahapetian at the movie theater, and every time you see him on-screen, remember that you also can be brave enough to go for what you deserve. Love!