Joaquin Phoenix Just Released A New Movie For April Fool’s Day

An Alamo Drafthouse presentation of Midsommar was actually a surprise showing of Joaquin Phoenix's new movie, Beau is Afraid.

By Kevin C. Neece | Updated

joaquin phoenix
Beau is Afraid

Ari Aster’s new film, Beau Is Afraid, starring Joaquin Phoenix, was shown in a surprise screening on April Fool’s Day to an audience who were expecting to see a different movie. Deadline reports that a screening of Aster’s acclaimed Florence Pugh horror film Midsommar at New York’s Alamo Drafthouse Cinema was pre-empted by not only the Phoenix film but also a Q&A with the director, which was moderated by Emma Stone. While the film’s lead was not an attendance, he was certainly at the center of some interesting stories about the making of his latest film.

Joaquin Phoenix is known for being a committed actor and for immersing himself in his roles, as with his Oscar-winning portrayal of The Joker, but his investment in a scene can clearly extend beyond the involvement of his own character. According to Deadline, Aster shared a story at the April Fool’s Day screening of Phoenix actually passing out on set during the filming of Beau Is Afraid, but not even during his own scene. Patti LuPone, who portrays the mother of Phoenix’s character, was in the middle of a very intense scene when Phoenix ruined what Aster called a “really good take” by falling out of frame.

joaquin phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix is known for not wanting people to touch him, so when the director saw that he was letting people tend to him, he knew something fairly serious had happened. Apparently, the actor’s investment in LuPone’s scene was such that he had fainted, which Aster said was “poetic” and showed the degree to which the star was invested in helping his fellow actor during the shoot. He was able to recover from the collapse and continue with the day, but it was a confusing moment on the set that can now be a sweet and even funny story.

Beau Is Afraid is not Joaquin Phoenix’s only buzzworthy project of late. In addition to his return to playing the Clown Prince of Crime in Joker 2, he will also be portraying Napoleon Bonaparte in Ridley Scott’s film Napoleon, which has been given an R rating for violent imagery and sexual content—not exactly new territory for its lead actor or its director. Beau Is Afraid explores themes of paranoia as its titular character fights through his fears in an “epic odyssey to get home to his mother,” which sounds like just the sort of deep character work and psychological exploration Phoenix is known for.

Fans of Joaquin Phoenix and Ari Aster will surely have much to look forward to in the new film, and much to envy in the audience who got this surprise sneak-peek screening, not to mention interaction with Stone and the director. The three-hour film and its adjacent Q&A event might not have been a humorous April Fool’s Day prank, but it was at least a welcome gift for those in attendance. The rest of us will have to wait only a bit longer to see Beau Is Afraid, however, as the film is set to premiere on April 21.

Joaquin Phoenix is nothing if not interesting and surprising, so the film will surely be an experience—one we wish we’d had dropped on us as a prank instead of that Rickroll you sent us yesterday. Yes, we know it was you.