There’s a certain smoldering something about Ezra Miller, the 19-year-old star of this season’s Another Happy Day and We Need to Talk About Kevin, who quit his nascent opera career and rose to the top of the A-list with dizzying speed.
THE GATEWAY DRUG: “You could say that opera was the perfect gateway drug in the sense that at this very young age, being exposed to and so involved in opera, I was learning all of the things that are now my artistic passions. Opera is an exercise in acting. It is a performance, and it is a big and broad exhibitionist performance. From the misadventure into opera, it was sort of an easy frolic into acting. It naturally unfolded, because I don’t think there’s naturally much difference.
THE HUGE, BEAUTIFUL LEAP: Independent film is a great place for artists, at any stage of their careers, to work. It’s the realm in which the artist has the most power and the most freedom because they’re not under some sort of corporate or studio control. But certainly for a young artist, it’s often the only forum. Everything you do as a young and budding artist will be, in some way or another, independent. And then if you can be doing independent work that is subsidized in some way, that’s a huge, beautiful leap in and of itself.
THE DIVE INTO THE HEART: I recently had the incredible privilege to do some work with someone I believe to be one of the greatest actors of all time, and that’s Tilda Swinton. The way in which that woman effortlessly plunges herself into a character the moment before action is called—I mean, it’s really that distinct. She’s this incredible, beautiful, fascinating woman with so many ideas in her head, who lets it all go the moment before the director calls action and dives into the heart of this character. She’s does the most amazing things, and yet somehow makes it look the most easy.
THE TWO-YEAR SAGA: We Need to Talk About Kevin was like this two-year saga. I read the script and I loved it; it was the most incredible, viscerally moving script I still have ever read. I auditioned for it. I was very excited, and then it disappeared for a while, but then it came back. There was another series of auditioning processes, and eventually I took a meeting outside of a casting office with the director and the cowriter, Lynne [Ramsay] and Rory [Kinnear]. They were incredibly in-depth about the casting process. I think they were very careful and cautious and diligent, and I was just hopeful and losing my mind and thinking about it constantly, and trying just as hard as I could. I was familiar with Lynne Ramsay’s other films, which just brought the brutal pressure on, because she is really one of the great filmmakers of my time. I am going to have the immense privilege to portray a character from a book I’ve loved for a long time called The Perks of Being a Wallflower. It’s such a powerfully important project for a very specific demographic. It really is one for the youth. I’m very excited to dive into this fantastic character, this fantastic mind.
THE TURMOIL AND HUMOR: I find that those two ideas, turmoil and humor, are always simultaneously present—just in the world, in life. To bounce from one to the other. Sometimes it hardly feels like a switch at all, because these are just different ways the world functions. I guess I don’t see enough distinction between them to even have a preference. I always like to dig deep into the true nature of a character or a story, no matter how ridiculous it is, or how dark and gritty and “real” it is.