Playing a disturbed teenager seems to come easily to heartthrob Ezra Miller. The New Jersey, United States native made waves with his portrayal as the mass-murdering schoolboy in the critically acclaimed 2011 movie We Need To Talk About Kevin.
He then played a deranged prisoner in The Stanford Prison Experiment, a movie based on the real-life California’s Stanford University Psychology Department studies conducted in 1971.
In his latest endeavour as Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them, Miller, you guessed it, plays a mentally unstable boy.
So what is Miller’s fascination with such difficult characters?
“When I was a kid, I used to say ‘the challengier (sic), the better’, and I stand by that ethos. It’s part of the intrigue of being an actor – to explore a wide range of possibilities that exists within a human being,” he shared during a recent roundtable interview to promote Fantastic Beasts in New York.
There’s another noticeable trait in Miller’s movie roles, actually. In every film, the 24-year-old actor never fails to rock a distinguishable hairdo, with the most “unfortunate” reserved for his new movie.
“I have more hair than I ever know what to do with… so for a hairstylist, it’s like a lot of raw material to work with, and they get excited and try new things. The Fantastic Beasts hair and makeup department head Faye Hammond and I looked at images from 1920s, and saw this boy with a haircut like that. It was a bowl cut, but not even the whole bowl, it was like a saucer cut. And we pictured it being done with dull scissors – a painful monthly process for Credence,” shared the currently floppy-haired actor.
His chauffeur had laughed at him for the first few weeks, and the actor even resorted to hiding his awful haircut under hats.
“But I adapted and took on the ability to fly the freak flag, so the hats went away.”
Miller discovered acting as a child, which he says, makes everything in retrospect a little confusing as it’s hard for him to delineate simple play-acting as a kid, or when he was actually acting.
“I remember when my sister explained to me that the genie that came out from the lamp in Aladdin was not a real person. I was crushed because that was my initial interest in acting. I wanted to be a blue genie,” he said with a twinkle in his eyes.
Well, he may not be playing a blue genie, but snagging the role as The Flash in the DC Extended Universe is equally a sweet deal. Miller revealed that he had just wrapped up filming Justice League, and is currently focusing on his music career.
Oh, didn’t you know? Acting is not the only thing that stands out in Miller’s resume. He also sings and plays the percussions and keyboard in Sons Of An Illustrious Father – a band he formed with his friends, which is currently recording its fourth studio album.
“To me, music and movies are each salves to the irritating element of the other. It is wonderful that you can make and distribute music immediately with tools that you possess, but there is also something that is so fantastic about the long term focus of a role, and the mass scale collaboration of a film which is one of the most magnificent types of real life magic I know,” he explained.
Apart from Hollywood, it was the topic of environmental issues that got Miller real fired up during the interview. With a determined voice, he said: “I am hoping to devote as much time as I can to the movement to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline. Environmental justice is absolutely paramount in our lives. We are in danger. As generous as she is, our earth cannot take all that abuse and keep us alive.”
The Dakota Access Pipeline is a proposed line of oil transmission in North Dakota in the US that environmental activists and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe oppose. It is also the very opposition that got actress Shailene Woodley arrested last month.
“This movement is the amplification of the voices of the original people of this land – the people who know how to live with the earth,” he said. “It is so important that we all listen to and stand behind them.”
So he acts, sings and cares for the world. Do we really need another reason to love Ezra Miller?