Bill Hader’s Beau is Afraid Cameo Had Him in Tears and Struggling to See Straight

Bill Hader, star of “Barry,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “It: Chapter Two” recalled the experience sharply. The phone call was, on Phoenix’s end, meant to be filmed in a single take, which meant that Hader and his co-star had to chat for an extended period several times in a row. He described the setup thus: 

“I’m the UPS guy on the telephone. I was in my house in Los Angeles with my assistant Alyssa [Donovan], and she connected me to Montreal. So, then I’d pick up the phone. I’m like, ‘Hello?’ And it’s Ari Aster going, ‘Hey, Bill. All right, so you’ve got your script? Okay, so here’s Joaquin.’ And then I’m on the phone with Joaquin Phoenix, and I’m just sitting in my living room in L.A., and we did that for like two hours. Just did a bunch of takes and tried a bunch of different stuff. Because Ari is like, ‘This is all one shot.’ And I just did it a lot.”

Because Aster left room for improvisation, Hader had to tell Phoenix that his mom died multiple times in a row. This, as one might well imagine, can be emotionally harrowing. Despite how dramatically dank Hader thought he was playing the scene, Aster — who is certainly possessed of a sardonic sense of humor — thought the performance was hilarious. This baffled Hader. He explained:

“[M]y assistant was like, ‘What the f*** are you doing? You’re just crying and freaking out …’ Because we did some takes that were really wild, really big, and intense. Then, I just remember feeling really exhausted and Ari coming on and going, ‘Hey, man. It’s so funny, Bill.’ And I was like, ‘Funny? I can’t see straight. I’ve been crying.’ But they just thought it was hilarious.”

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