In a perfect world Ezra Miller would be getting ready to attend the Academy Awards later this month. The 20-year-old actor would be celebrating his first best supporting actor nomination for his role in Stephen Chbosky’s “The Perks of Being A Wallflower.” Unfortunately, awards season is a far from perfect animal and Miller joins co-star Logan Lerman, Michael Pena (“End of Watch”) and Bruce Willis (“Moonrise Kingdom”) as actors who should have received more attention (thank god for the Independent Spirit Awards). That fact will be increasingly apparent to moviegoers who catch up with “Perks” after its release on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download this week.
Adapted from his own novel, Chbosky’s “Perks” is the rare teenage drama that likely appeals more to adults than teenagers. While the film’s dramatic thrust is driven from the POV of freshman Charlie (Lerman), it’s the heartbreaking story lines of Patrick (Miller) and Sam (Emma Watson) that make “Perks” something special. The movie was critically acclaimed, but Summit Entertainment struggled to find a wide audience outside the art house circuit as it grossed just $17.7 million in theaters.
The film did, however, put Miller on the preverbal map. Miller received kudos for his role in “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” but his work in “Perks” was 180 degrees from the psychotic teenager in that little scene Tilda Swinton thriller. Miller has star-quality range and is someone movie fans should (hopefully) be hearing about for a long time to come.
Miller took some time to chat late last week about fans approaching him about landing the “Perks” role in a traditional casting call, dealing with new fans in the street and clarifying that no, he’s not on twitter.
Q: I know it’s been a long road for you with ‘Perks’ but it”s funny, I’m finally hearing from a lot of friends who have seen it months after its release and love it. Is it one of those movies where it feels like it”s following you as people keep discovering it?
Yeah, definitely. I kind of feel like that might go on for a while. You know what I mean? Because it just like, in its release it wasn”t so like completely in everyone”s face as a film that they had to see [so] I think that there”s ample opportunity for a lot of people to keep discovering it. And that”s actually very exciting because it means a long road of hearing various reactions and just like the infinite number of ways that this film affects the various people, in various ways and stirs up different thoughts and conversations. So yeah, it has been a long road but I”m down for it to be an open road.
Q: Living in the New York area do a lot of people approach you in the street or, I know you’re on twitter, reach out to you about the movie? Do you have people who sort of surprise you with like how passionate they are once they”ve seen it?
Just to set the record straight, I am not on Twitter.
Q: Oh, I thought you were.
There are a couple human beings who pretend to be me on Twitter. I actually haven”t read their Twitter feeds, but I”ve heard from other people that they exist and so I imagine that”s what you”re referring to? I actually encourage it because I hate Twitter. I don”t have the wherewithal to be a social networker and so if people want to pretend to be me and social network on my behalf, I”m all for it.
Q: O.K. well that”s funny, because I think that at one point during the Toronto Film Festival someone had convinced a lot of people that this one account was actually you. But beyond that, just in general, have you had people like come up to you in person about the movie and what’s that been like?
Yes, definitely. You know, in New York it”s more casual and friendlier than anywhere else that I”ve experienced in the country or in the world. So, if for some reason, someone recognizes me from the film often they”ll just do something as simple as like a thumbs up, you know what I mean? Or they”ll come up and just say really quickly that they loved the film. Or on certain occasions people are affected by this film in a way and there’s a lot all of a sudden that they what to say or express. Or maybe something they want to share about their life that drew them closer to the story. And I”m generally, unless I like – I really have to get somewhere and can”t talk, I”m usually, you know, down to hear whatever it might be.
Q: Are there any stories or just comments that”s sort of touched you that you just can think of offhand?
Yeah. You know, the nostalgic ones are often the most personal. People who come up who are in their ’30s who will talk about how this movie actually takes place in the time that they were in high school and how it brings up all of these reminiscences just for them and sometimes people will open up about really personal. There are some topics in the movie like molestation as a child and just various themes of those events being traumas in someone”s past they”ll be will be willing to talk about them. So that”s kind of incredible.
Q: Yeah. You”re definitely not getting the same reaction I”m guessing that from people who saw, ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin.’
It”s a little sweeter.
Q: It”s really good you did this movie to like make sure that people didn”t think you were crazy. I mean, if this had been only you”re only film for a couple of years, it could”ve been a little tough for you at times socially.
Yeah. (Laughs). I feel like in the last two, ‘Kevin’ and ‘Perks,’ kind of hold each other in happy harmony as the last two film I”ve made. You know, it”s like it”s perfect. It”s perfect. If anyone thinks I am like just like a terrifying human being they can watch ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower,’ anyone thinks I”m like chews bubble gum and a [heartfelt] human being, they can watch ‘Kevin.’
A nice equilibrium is drawn.
Q: Have you shot ‘Madame Bovary’ yet?
No, not quite yet, but soon. I think Summer-Fall is what we’re looking at now.
Q: Do you have anything else in the works in the interim?
Yeah. It looks like there will be a project or two between where I am right now and ‘Madame Bovary.’ But I can”t say ’cause it”s not like a final thing yet. It does look like there will be another project perhaps.
Q: Didn”t you grow your hair out for that role, though?
No, I just let my hair grow. And then if someone wants to cut it for a role, it’ll be the most amount of raw material possible, you know. And I like having long hair. I like growing out my hair. And eventually when ‘Madame Bovary’ finally does happen, I will have the proper amount of hair. I might actually have a surplus, but I will not be wearing an itchy wig, I know that for sure.
Q: How long is it right now?
Yeah. It”s definitely – it”s touching my back. It”s maybe below my collarbones. It”s definitely its past shoulder length. We”re into the new frontier.
Q: That”s a lot of work, man.
Now it”s to descend down the back. It”s the longest my hairs ever been. It”s very exciting.
Q: I just want to really just go back to ‘Perks’ for one more second. Did you land the role from the fact that Stephen had seen you in ‘Kevin’ or in something else, or had he been sort of giving a hint about you from a casting director?
No. It was two auditions. I went in with the herds with all the others actors. People auditioned I think in both New York and L.A. and I went on tape and then I did a Skype session actually with the director and the producers, which is always a little nerve-wracking, because auditions are scary enough without the awkwardness of the 20-second delay. But miraculously it worked out and I got the part. I don”t think Steve has even seen ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’ still. When he hired me, he asked about it and [I said] ‘Oh, don”t watch that movie you”ll be so weirdly distracting.’ You know what I mean, that you don”t have to watch the movie right now. And I don”t know if he”d seen it at all.
Q: He never had you audition with Logan or Emma at all?
Yeah, which is maybe the most like miraculous and incredible thing that happened with the making of this movie is that we did no chemistry testing and somehow ended up all feeling like we had the relationships of our characters. It ended up in this situation of binding endless friendship that persists to this day. It’s a case of absolute serendipity and synchronicity. It just occurred that way. And that definitely was a lucky turn for us.
Q: One last question. I’ve read you studied Opera when you were younger to partially help with a stuttering problem, but curious when did you decide that you actually wanted to be an actor? And while you”re only 20 do you see yourself wanting to act in ten years? Or is this just something you”re enjoying now?
I see my life in playing characters in some way or another. I like that action of embodying characters. So, however that goes down I”m ready for it and excited for it. And I”d also love to keep playing music as long as I have hands and a voice. Or even just one of those three things. Even one hand or even just like half a voice. I’d like to play characters and play music. That would be wonderful if I could do that and yeah, you know, occasionally like eat food or sleep. Then if those things can happen, yeah, I’m an incredibly grateful, happy camper.
Q: Well, I hope that they sell a lot of DVDs so that you get a nice check so you can have a place to eat and sleep.
You”re right. That would be great; we”re on the same team then.
“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is now available on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download.