Beware the Gonzo is definitely not your typical high school movie, thankfully so. It tells the story of Eddie “Gonzo” Gilman (Ezra Miller), a rebel journalist who is ousted from his prep school’s newspaper and decides to become the voice of the oppressed by starting an underground paper, with the help of fellow outsider Evie Wallace (Zoë Kravitz). Initially, they set out to give a voice to all of the misfits who are victimized by the in-crowd. But, the more Gonzo uncovers about the injustices in his school, the more he learns that the truth comes with consequences and it can hurt the same individuals he believes he is helping, including the ones he cares about most.
During an exclusive phone interview with Collider, co-stars Ezra Miller and Zoë Kravitz talked about how exciting it was to take on roles that were not typical high school teenagers, that they believe everyone feels like an outcast in life, how their friendship on screen developed into a real-life friendship off screen, and how when you search too deeply for the truth, it can often hurt as much as it helps, and that they both have the desire to remain honest in the roles and projects that they do. Miller also talked about having recently finished filming The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and Kravitz said she hopes that Mad Max (for which she has signed on to do a role) will get the go-ahead for production soon. Check out what they had to say after the jump:
Question: How did this film come about for each of you? Was there something specific that interested you in the story and the characters?
EZRA MILLER: I saw the word “gonzo” and decided that I had to do the movie. And then, I read the script and agreed with myself. From a very young age, I’ve had a very deep, insatiable love for the work of Hunter S. Thompson, and the notion of a kid being so obsessed with those notions and mythologies that he actually almost fixing everything and then destroys everything, I just thought was a funny, true and possible tale. That was the interest. I loved it, as an idea for a story.
ZOE KRAVITZ: Yeah, I agree. Anyone that is able to put a high school film and gonzo journalism together, it’s like, “Yes, please!” And then, I really liked the character of Evie. Just seeing a layered, full female character is so lovely because women are used as accessories in film. Seeing a real character is just exciting.
MILLER: There was something really, very exciting, considering a lot of the scripts we read as young actors. When you read a script where teenage characters feel real and don’t feel like this other, Disney-fied mythology of the modern, bubble-gum teenager, it’s immediately undeniably exciting.
Ezra, how did you first become aware of the work of Hunter S. Thompson?
MILLER: I had found a copy of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas in this house where my family stayed on the beach, one summer. I was very young. I read it and I didn’t really understand it. And then, I read it again and again, and I saw the movie. My first girlfriend really gave me the full introduction on Hunter S. Thompson as a man, as a legend, as a character maker and a character actor, and as one of the best journalists the world has ever seen. I was 13 or 14, when that happened, and after that, it was just what it will be until I die, which is devotion. I am a devout reader and believer. I just believe in his extreme action, his extreme mentality, his drive and how he executed the work of his life.
KRAVITZ: Well, I’m perfect and normal, in real life.
MILLER: I’m super-popular, so I had to pretend to be a loser, which was super-hard.
KRAVITZ: No, of course! I feel like most creative people are total freaks.
MILLER: Artists walk alone.
KRAVITZ: Until the lone wolf finds its wolf pack. So, yeah, I’m a total weirdo and have often felt like an outcast and a freak, and I love that. It makes things so much more exciting. I feel like, for me, playing a very accepted, normal person would actually be more interesting and difficult to do.
MILLER: Yeah. I have this feeling that actually everybody feels like an outcast, even CEOs of the most major companies. Everybody feels like an outcast because the world is so large and every fingerprint is so vastly different from one another, and yet we have these standards and beliefs, and dogmatic systems of judgment and ranking, in almost all the societies of the world. So, it is conducive to a reality in which everybody feels unaccepted and everybody feels like an outcast.
With this film also being inspired by writer/director Bryan Goluboff’s own high school experience, did he give you any insight into playing these characters?
MILLER: Absolutely! Bryan just knew the hearts of those kids, so intimately. He believed in those characters, so completely. It’s that thing of a writer’s mind, directing a movie. We were all playing his brainchildren. He knew about any of the internal conditions or external circumstances that that character would find themselves in, at any time. He was definitely that director who always had the answer, if you were curious.
KRAVITZ: He also trusted us, though. He did such a fantastic job of actually finding these people. He saw a part of every character in us, as people. There was so much trust there. Once we were hired, he knew that we knew what to do.
MILLER: It’s such a hard thing for a director to do. It’s the ultimate direction balance. To what degree are you going to keep control of your brain-child’s story, and to what degree are you going to let the spontaneous true things that are happening, in the moments of making the film, carry the story? I’ve seen a lot of directors push it too far, to one side or the other. Bryan, as a first-time director, did such an amazing job of walking that line.
The relationship between Gonzo and Evie is so real and genuine. Did you guys have time to get to know each other or rehearse at all, prior to filming, to develop the trust that you have on screen or did it just click right away?
MILLER: I guess we clicked right away, but then also spent time together.
KRAVITZ: Ezra had the part and we met, before I was actually hired, just to get ready for a chemistry read, and there was chemistry. We became best friends immediately, and still are.
Do you think it’s true that, if you search too deeply for the truth, you can often end up hurting people, whether it’s intentional or unintentional?
KRAVITZ: That’s an interesting way to ask that question. I don’t think it’s about searching for the truth, specifically. I just think that investigation, of any kind, is sticky, whatever you’re looking for.
MILLER: I like that question a lot.
KRAVITZ: Me, too.
MILER: My personal opinion is that truth, like honesty and non-harmfulness, often are at odds with one another. It’s a very difficult thing to navigate, “When should I be honest?,” and “When should I be trying not to hurt?” There’s a reason why the world, right now, is dominated by a bunch of lies. It’s because they’re easier. They’re a lot easier to deal with. Full truth is going to be half really pretty, beautiful stuff, and half the darkest shit you could imagine. So yeah, any wisdom or knowledge seeker in the world knows that the further you go, the more light means the more darkness, the more hurt and the more pain. That is an age-old, timeless reality. I think the answer to your question is an unequivocal yes.
Right from the start of both of your careers as actors, you’ve done a really varied assortment of roles in TV and film. With so many young actors presumably vying for the same roles, has it been important to you, in making a name for yourself, to really show the range of what you’re capable of?
KRAVITZ: I’m not trying to show anyone anything. I’m just trying to do stuff, and hopefully people react well to it. Acting and making art is just something I love to do, and I love to tell stories that feel important, honest and necessary. It’s not about me. It’s about being part of something. If one took a role with the intention of, “I’ll show them what I can do!,” then it’s not going to be good because the ego is going to just block everything.
MILLER: I completely agree with Zoe. But, at the same time, there is something to be said for being cautious of being pigeonholed and celebrity crucified.
KRAVITZ: Yeah, but you avoid that, just by being honest. You don’t like just one thing, you like all kinds of things, so you just do that, and then you’re not pigeonholed.
MILLER: Exactly. Essentially, it comes down to that cheesy, old phrasing of being true to yourself. If you’re worrying about anything else, then you’re not actually doing what you want to do. Eventually, that will creep up from under that big, old rug.
Are there things that you look for, when you’re deciding which projects you want to sign on for? Does it start with the script for you, or do you also look at who’s involved?
KRAVITZ: All of those things. There are definitely names that make my ears perk because I like their work. Of course, a script is just as important. If there’s a story there, then I want to help tell it. Sometimes it’s less about the character and more about the story, for me. I’ll play a rock in the background, if I think the story is fantastic and I can be a part of it, somehow. That’s what I look for.
Do either of you know what you’re going to be doing next, or are there things that you’re focused on now, as far as where you want to go next with your career?
MILLER: I just want to make art, forever.
KRAVITZ: I’m playing music with my band. I have a film, Yelling to the Sky, that I did a few years ago, that’s finally coming out at the end of fall, beginning of winter. And then, I’m supposed to do Mad Max. It’s been pushed so many times that I’m just waiting for the go-ahead on that one. That’s it. I’m just in the process of reading scripts and seeing what turns me on.
MILLER: We finished The Perks of Being a Wallflower about a month ago. That’s coming out in the spring, and I suspect that it will be awesome. I also have two other films coming out in the next few months. One of them is called We Need to Talk About Kevin, and the other one is called Another Happy Day.
Beware the Gonzo is available VOD from August 25th – October 27th, with a limited theatrical run beginning September 9th.