Ezra Miller delighted in regaling fans with tales of his career at the Middle East Film & Comic Con (MEFCC) on Saturday evening, and was particularly thrilled to withhold top-secret information about two upcoming projects: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (releasing this year) and The Flash (due in 2020).
“Oh, it’s delightful. Oh my gosh. Once I learn how to time-travel, which obviously I’m working on pretty hard, I’m going back and I’m going to tease my nine-year-old self. My nine-year-old self is going to punch me in the face, because he’s going to be like, ‘Dude, just tell me what happens!’ No,” said the affable 25-year-old.
Fantastic Beasts, a Harry Potter prequel in which he plays the abused antagonist Credence Barebone, Miller said, “will continue to evolve to be something very shocking, challenging and beautiful.”
Was he less of a fanboy around J.K. Rowling during the sequel? “Never, ever. Always there’s this reverence that remains, for her and for what she’s done.”
During Miller’s childhood, he grew up with “a very restricted movie and television schedule” due to his mother’s desire to nourish and cultivate his imagination.
“My mother is a modern dancer. I was always fascinated with what she did,” said Miller, whose father was a book publisher.
“I went from being really into dinosaurs and Tonka Trucks, a bit of Edgar Allan Poe, and then opera. That’s what got me into performance.”
As an actor, he seems to slip right into the skin of the characters he plays, but Miller admits that part of it is faking it.
“I don’t feel comfortable with myself, at all. I don’t know who really does,” said Miller. “It’s being comfortable with being uncomfortable.”
Shuttled between auditions as a young teen, Miller refused many roles.
“Some people just really want to be a movie star. And that’s cool, that’s valid, that’s awesome. For me, I’ve been just interested in making art that I’m passionate about,” said Miller.
(A momentary intermission, as Miller was distracted by the moderator’s shoe: “You have a little friend, a fly, on your shoe. Oh, hello! Let’s ask him some questions. Oh, there he is. [I’m] easily distractible. Fly. Fly!”)
NIGHTMARE COME TRUE
In a long black jacket, shin-high red socks and beat-up sneakers, Miller joked he was working on becoming more intimidating: “The red socks. It’s like I’ve been up to my shins in blood, so much so my formerly white socks have been dyed this impossible colour of red, that’s not the colour of blood at all.”
But he’s far from menacing, despite playing his fair share of intimidating characters, such as mass murderer Kevin Khatchadourian in We Need to Talk About Kevin.
“I disagree that he’s a sociopath. I find a lot of emotionality and a painful amount of feeling in Kevin. I’m not very well-versed in psychology, but I think that would make him more of a psychopath.” After a round of applause, Miller quipped, “Psychopaths, yay!”
“I believe really heavily in the power of dreams and internalising a character before you sleep. With Kevin, that was literally a nightmare,” said Miller. “It was bloodshed, and horror, and Tilda [Swinton], and my mother, and Tilda, and my mother.”
PATRICK TO FLASH
Six years ago, Miller starred in poignant coming-of-age adaptation the Perks of Being a Wallflower.
“I read Perks of Being a Wallflower when I was [protagonist] Charlie’s age. I had two older friends, who were sort of Sam and Patrick’s age, who gave me the book and said, ‘You have to read this,’” said Miller, who was “struggling with my early understanding of my own mental health” at the time. Years later, he was cast as Patrick.
“One of my friends who had given me the book as an 18-year-old was like, ‘That’s a stupid decision. You’re not how I pictured Patrick at all. You have black hair — that doesn’t even work!’” said Miller, with a laugh.
Most recently, Miller embodied The Flash, a.k.a. Barry Allen, in the DC ensemble flick Justice League.
“Every day on set, no matter what the surrounding circumstances were, whatever Barry wanted to say, he said it. No one could stop Barry from saying what he wanted — not even a script… I try not to get in the way of him, and I try to really make sure no one else does, or can,” said Miller.
(If he had to choose a Marvel character to play, Miller would have a go at Captain Fury. “Let me make that very clear, I don’t want to see an article tomorrow that says, ‘Ezra Miller wants to steal Samuel L Jackson’s role.’ But I could see a different, very psychotic interpretation of Captain Fury,” he said.)
‘MY BODY IS A CAULDRON’
During a Q&A session, one fan expressed her adoration for a ‘pure’ Miller. The impassioned actor responded: “Thank you for saying so. I’m not pure and I don’t believe in purity. Honestly, I think that purity is a very problematic concept, that’s gotten human beings into trouble again and again. It’s not who we are, it’s not what we’re made of,” he said.
“Some people say my body is a temple. For me, my body is a cauldron. It’s the same idea, too, that ‘the world doesn’t deserve’ something — again, thank you, it’s a beautiful thing to say — but no, we’re all messed up, we all have problems, we all have struggles, we’re all extremely complex. Beware the person who tells you otherwise. That’s my personal feeling and philosophy. I don’t like that purity stuff. That’s not the goal. That’s not who we are. We’re here. We’re on Earth. If we weren’t broken and sick, we wouldn’t be here.”
Miller also shot down any separation between him as a celebrity and his fans, calling them his ‘community’.
“It’s funny, someone was saying, ‘Oh, you went out and walked the [MEFCC] floor?’ I never want to not walk the floor. My fandom is what brought me to this work. I won’t let the work push me away from the fandom. Should I ever disappoint you, I’ll simply ask for your forgiveness, and always ask for your input and your advice,” he said.
Might he come back to the con again next year? “Inshallah,” the smiling actor said, wrapping the evening up to uproarious applause.