“You want to smoke?” Ezra Miller asks me on the patio of his West Hollywood hotel room, reaching over to hand me his joint as I dry my tears with my hand. The 26-year-old actor, who plays Credence Barebone in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald and is one of the film industry’s most fascinating rising stars, has been smoking from the impressive joint since my arrival 80 minutes ago. (It is meticulously rolled.) Upon seeing me cry heavily during our conversation, he decides to share the wealth. After a single puff I cough profusely, much to my embarrassment. Ezra Miller smokes some good shit.
The next day, Miller spots me waiting just outside of the restaurant and whisks me off to his room. Upon entering, he gives me a quick apology for the untidiness, including an empty plate. (As a former restaurant reservationist myself, this is a good time for me to publicly apologize that neither of us actually canceled our reservation before hightailing it to his room. Sorry, won’t happen again.)
I’m trying to find queer beings who understand me as a queer being off the bat, and I feel like I’m married to them 25 lifetimes ago. And then they are in the squad—the polycule.
And so, the Fantastic Beasts films have become his calling card.
Sometimes, I don’t have sex for a really long time because a lack of sex is as important to me as sex. There’s definitely a lot of sexless, lonely time when playing Credence.
“I definitely started drawing conclusions about [the romance] from the time that we first started working on the first film,” says the actor, who personally identifies as queer and sees it as “an umbrella of non-identification.” He makes it clear that, like any true Potter devotee, he trusts that Rowling—“Jo,” as he calls her—would make the right call, despite fans expressing concerns on social media over the first trailer not addressing Dumbledore’s sexual orientation. “Knowing that Jo, with that brilliant mind for the ambiguity of people—morally, in terms of how we classify them on a spectrum from good to evil—I knew that she would be interested in exploring.”
When I ask Miller if Rowling said anything to him about Depp appearing in the film, he replies, “No, none of us were consulted. None of us knew.” Miller has an even tougher time answering my follow-up question on whether he was fine about costarring with Depp. “Look, I bring forth my work to this job, and I do the best that I can,” he says. After a lengthy pause, Miller continues diplomatically: “I would say that literally every single aspect of my reality, inclusive of a lot of things that are not fine with me, are fine with me. It’s amazing how far the banner of all good can extend.”
Kyle Patrick Alvarez, who directed Miller in 2015's The Stanford Prison Experiment, tells me he "adored" working with the actor. "The nicest thing I can say about him is that I really believe there's no one else like him, both off- and on-camera."
Miller has plenty of thoughts that aren’t typical of a Hollywood power player. For one, Miller contemplates death. A lot. How often? “Every day, all the time, that’s the samurai way,” he says, turning it into a song. “Hello, hello! Yeah, absolutely. In Buddhism, they say to think about it five times a day.” When I point out it’s appropriate we’re meeting on Halloween, given his fascination with magic and the supernatural, he offers, “Maybe the dead will talk to us in this interview. They probably already are.”
I’ve been attacked repeatedly in my life—I’ve been attacked by fucking bigots, man. Of course I’ve been in audition situations where sexuality was totally being leveraged.
He also was bullied due to a severe speech impediment that led his parents to enroll him in speech therapy. He hated those courses so much that he told his family, “I’d rather be broken than having someone trying to fix me all the time.” Instead, he conquered his stutter through singing, a development that he credits in part to the occult: “I started singing because this woman, my kindergarten music teacher, did a very particular type of witchcraft, which is something a true artist can do to any child who carries a creative energy. Essentially, you just point your wand—which is your finger—at that child, and you say, ‘You are an artist.’”
He later tells me, in reference to discussing the sex dream and his unusual bones, “It’s funny when an interview starts, and you suddenly realize the stuff you’re going to end up talking about that you’ve never talked about with anyone.” When I ask him if he has an early memory of Playboy, he describes a time in elementary school when he and a boy a couple years his senior—“a friend and also sexual partner”—found a sexy stash of items belonging to the boy’s divorced mother: Playboys, the Kama Sutra (“I remember it being very influential”), lingerie. “We would jerk each other off while we interacted with that stuff in various ways, actually,” Miller says, quickly smirking self-consciously over how much he just divulged.
He says this includes people he’s known for years, such as the members of his band, Sons of an Illustrious Father, along with new people who are deemed the right fit for the polycule. But if you’re looking to join said polycule, be advised that the membership process is selective. “I’m trying to find queer beings who understand me as a queer being off the bat, who I make almost a familial connection with, and I feel like I’m married to them 25 lifetimes ago from the moment we meet,” he explains. “And then they are in the squad—the polycule. And I know they’re going to love everyone else in the polycule because we’re in the polycule, and we love each other so much.”
Fittingly for someone who was exposed to the Kama Sutra at a pivotal age, Miller uses tantric terms when discussing the varying role of sex and love in his life. “I have more of an ecstatic practice, but I do take to instatic practices at times, so sometimes, I don’t have sex for a really long time because a lack of sex is as important to me as sex,” he says. Indeed, this played into his mindset for understanding Credence Barebone, an abused outcast who struggles to make connections. Before Crimes of Grindelwald went into production, Miller took to Europe, where he spent time in isolation, introduced himself to strangers in character and even started stealing—although he says he was quick to return any pilfered cash. “There’s definitely a lot of sexless, lonely time when playing Credence. Absolutely—alone, alone, alone, alone, alone.”
Miller is a key figure in the Fantastic Beasts saga, but if you only know him for one role, it’s likely for Barry Allen, aka the Flash. The odd part about the previous sentence is that Miller, who was cast as the big-screen Flash more than four years ago, still has yet to play the speedster in a stand-alone film, with the entirety of his screen time as the popular DC Comics character coming in the form of two cameos (in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad), plus his ensemble role in Justice League. Disappointing news for Flash fans came with reports that the film is postponing its planned start of production to allow Miller to shoot the third Beasts movie as the superhero project’s pieces continue to solidify.
If I didn’t have art, I’d be so fucking dead—so long ago, I’d be dead. I probably would have done it myself.
Miller is proud to be part of what he terms the “Golden Age Part 2 for cinema,” particularly because he sees the former Golden Age as one of pyrite. He refers to pre-Time’s Up Hollywood as “a racist, sexist, rape-culture mess that we still sort of celebrate,” and when I ask about his own experiences, he has a lot to say.
“I’ve survived abuse for sure, for sure, in a lot of capacities, starting from a pretty young age,” he says. “There was a close friend who I had a sexual relationship with who really, really turned on me in a violent way. So that Perks [of Being a Wallflower] story was pretty close to home for me,” he says, referring to his role in the seminal coming-of-age tale of Patrick, who is attacked by the high school football star with whom he is surreptitiously hooking up.
I’m soon sobbing.
“I’ve been attacked repeatedly in my life—I’ve been attacked by fucking bigots, man,” he tells me. “Of course I’ve been in audition situations where sexuality was totally being leveraged. It’s really important to acknowledge the diversity of voices who have experienced this shit, and all genders, all capacities, all types of people. Everyone is victim to it. Everyone is a survivor of it.”
No. I feel you, baby. I’m crying, too.
Eventually, Miller receives a call from his team to let him know he is extremely late for his flight to Alabama for a film event. And just like that, he switches into speedster mode, grabbing a purple carry-on and stuffing it with his limited belongings, the crystal included. Within seconds, he is out the door and hopping in a waiting car, where he says goodbye to me by placing my hands against his head.
Ezra Miller isn't solely changing Hollywood, I think. He just changed the life of one journalist, who suddenly, however fleetingly, no longer feels like toast.