Ezra Miller is living his best life. After breaking out in a huge way with a tremendous performance in the 2011 drama We Need to Talk About Kevin followed by another mighty impressive turn in The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Miller landed a duo of huge projects one right after the other. He was cast as The Flash in the DC Extended Universe, making a cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice before starring in the now-filming Justice League with a fully fledged The Flash movie on the docket, and he joined the Harry Potter universe with the upcoming spinoff/prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
While Miller is no doubt enthused about being a superhero, it’s the latter project that nearly sent him to the moon—as I learned when visiting the set of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them last year. Scripted by J.K. Rowling herself, the film takes place in 1920s New York and revolves around Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist whose briefcase full of magical creatures pops open and lets them loose in the Big Apple. This is a massive problem given that in America, fraternizing between the magical community and the no-maj is forbidden.
During my time on set along with a small group of reporters, I got the chance to speak with Miller about his experience on the film and what it means to him. While he was more than tight-lipped about character or plot details (he couldn’t even confirm he has a mother in the movie), we’ve since learned that he’s playing a character named Credence, the adopted middle child of Samantha Morton’s Mary Lou Barebone. Credence is described as extremely shy and withdrawn, and his loneliness makes him susceptible to manipulation by Colin Farrell’s intense auror Percival Graves.
Although we couldn’t delve into plot details, it was clear from our interview that Miller is a massive Harry Potter fan. He recounted a touching story about him and his father both crying while listening to the audio book of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and he also discussed the appeal of magic. Miller also touched on how excited he is to have two action figures, and detailed his plans to have his Flash and Credence fight each other.
Check out the full interview below, and if you missed any of my previous set visit coverage, peruse the links. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens in theaters on November 18th.
- ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’: 43 Things to Know About the New Wizarding World Story
- ‘Fantastic Beasts’: Eddie Redmayne on How They Made the Creatures Come to Life on Set
- ‘Fantastic Beasts’: Colin Farrell Explains Why He Wanted to Join the ‘Potter’ Universe
- ‘Fantastic Beats’ Was Originally Considered as a Documentary-Style Film
- ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Director David Yates Explains What Makes J.K. Rowling a Unique Screenwriter
EZRA MILLER:(interrupts) I cannot confirm or deny whether or not my character has now or has ever had a mother (laughs).
Do you feel any pressure being around the age of the other Harry Potter characters from the other Harry Potter films like where we left off at all?
MILLER: I think that it’s really wonderful that J.K. Rowling has written characters in the same age range as the people who were most heavily affected by the work. And I think that’s a brilliant move on her part. I’m obviously happy about it because it puts me in the movie. Yeah, that’s my answer to that one.
Can you talk about working with Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell?
MILLER: It’s a huge gift and a huge privilege. Really amazing. I admire both of their work immensely. I think they’re both really brilliant, brilliant artists and yeah, it’s been really, really, fruitful. I often use sports metaphors even though I do not play or watch sports. And it’s like a game of tennis. It’s like how when you’re playing tennis, or as I’ve heard. When one plays tennis, if someone is really good at tennis, it makes you feel like you’re better at tennis. Is that true? Has anyone here played tennis? (laughs). They’re, yeah, really amazing. Really wonderful to work with them. Super grateful. Super grateful to work with great actors. It makes it possible to slip deep into a world of illuminated fantasy.
Can you talk a bit about when this did first come on your radar? Even having the conversations and realizing you were gonna join this universe, given the enormity of it and what it already means to so many people…
MILLER: In a way that I would describe as non-denominational, when I found out that I was doing this movie I dropped to my knees and started yelling in prayer in the street. In the street of New York, in like mid-town. Like, not a cool neighborhood. (laughs) Yeah, I can’t even really describe how lucky, blessed, happy, thankful, I feel. It’s an amazing thing to be able to fall into the world of your childhood fantasy. I mean, I think everyone should be able to do that in some way or another as someone who generates this content or receives it and appreciates it. Or just in, you know, the private space of one’s own imagination. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to keep alive. The worlds of metaphor that we find when we’re children. And to get to literally be in the primary fantasy world of my childhood—is absolutely wonderful in ways I clearly can’t speak about there.
Have you had a chance to talk to J.K. Rowling at all about your character?
MILLER: You know, I haven’t met her. She is still very much the wizard behind the curtain to me. Yeah.
Do you have any personal experiences with the Harry Potter series growing up that you’d like to share, like what’s your favorite moment with it?
MILLER: Well, I remember going on a trip with my father and that we were listening to the sixth book. (sighs) Hefty pause, moment of silence, deep sighs. Yeah, we were listening to the Half-Blood Prince and we were camping. But I remember that the campsite got rained out. And so, we woke up in the middle of the night and we just started driving ’cause it was raining too hard for us to camp. And we listened to the rest of the book. I had read it many times and listened to it many times but he hadn’t. And I just remember, honestly, the two of us, weeping and weeping and weeping and weeping. Just going through a genuine grief process for Dumbledore. You know what I mean? Together as a father and son where it’s like this very paternal relationship obviously and that was beautiful. Those are heavy times. They’re so many. I mean it’s countless—I just pulled something out of the blue that I thought of but it’s, you know, it’s a lot, I share with many people on planet earth having a lot of really seminal moments in our early life. You know, relate to this fiction.
Was there any certain element or part of the Harry Potter universe that you were most excited to be able to be a part of or the experience and on the movie…
MILLER: Yes. It’s called magic. (laughs) Well, honestly, what’s most interesting for me both as a geek and as an actor is the way that the magic in this world corresponds very seamlessly with psychological and emotional and sort of just human dynamics. And it’s done in a brilliant way that I don’t completely understand but to work within this world where magic truly works as an extended limb of the human condition and demonstrates it to us is really fulfilling as an artist or as a reader or viewer. We want to understand that magic is real and we understand that through the vessels of our beings—our emotions, our love, our capacity to do good things for one another. And I think that J.K. Rowling ties the sort of supernatural elements of her work into those deeply natural elements, which is what’s most exciting I think for me.
Has it sunk in to you sort of like how bizarre it might feel that given this film and other projects you have coming up. That they’re gonna be multiple action figures of you sitting on a shelf in toy stores?
MILLER: I think about this…quite a lot. I’m really excited for my action figures. I will have all of them. I will have the heaviest collected versions of them hopefully with like exchangeable suits, maybe some sort of like toy where it fits in the little hand, the little plastic hand. Yeah, that’s gonna be very weird. I do imagine that that will be odd. But I’m down. I definitely wanna make Credence and The Flash have a little battle. (laughs) Yeah that part of this stuff—I mean like, going into a room where there’s maybe actually one thousand cameras surrounding you so that they can take a picture, so that they can like calculate your skeleton. So that they can make a mold of your body and it’s beyond me (laughs) like, genuinely, way over my head. But yeah, I’m really enjoying all aspects of the process and, yeah, I’m really hoping to milk this whole experience for as many action figures as I can get. Not just action figures of myself, which is obviously cool for its own reasons, but just action figures in general from both of the worlds I’m involved in.
David said he likes to do a lot of takes in a row without cutting so, what’s it like to work with David as a filmmaker and in that style and that experience?
MILLER: It’s been really amazing to have such attention to the process paid by a director. He is an actor’s director in every way. He has a really deep instinctual understanding of what an actor might need. I mean the example you give is a good one. The way that he’ll run through many takes at a time so that an actor can sink deeply into the reality of that scene without the interruptions of what happens between takes. It all serves sinking into the emotional reality of a scene. He’s a really incredibly calm and focused human being. I never really could’ve imagined someone in such an almost like, completely tranquil state directing a massive film like this. You have this vision of the director who’s gotta run around and yell. He is so incredibly collected and incredibly intelligent and manages to create a lot of time and space for the smaller crucial details of a scene even when it is in such an enormous context with enormous pieces of green cloth being moved by cranes and a bunch of cars. Authentic cars from the 1920s, which by the way, have terrible smog emissions. Will not pass a California emissions test. Yeah but David is incredible, an incredible human being. I’m really in awe of him. I feel very taken care of in his hands. Feel very safe to make really bold choices and to try outlandish things. Because I really trust him and trust his vision and kind of don’t entirely understand how he does 4,000 things at once and acts like a Zen monk. I plan to talk to him about this, and try to figure it out but yeah, seems like it’ll be great. More directors should just be super calm and chill all the time because then the entire crew is super friendly and calm and chill all the time and it’s a strange anomaly.
You’ve played a couple of characters that are emotionally vulnerable maybe a little bit disturbed before. And this character sounds like it’s sort of in the same vein. Can you talk about influences, or kind of how you got into character or even from influences from past films?
MILLER: Yeah, I think that the ethos is to try to do a lot of different stuff and try to do stuff that interests me. And it’s sort of as simple as that. I cannot confirm or deny that this character is disturbed in any way. But, yeah, thank you for saying so and I definitely feel like something that I find really fun about this work is doing different explorations in different directions.