Shirt GUCCI, trousers FENDI and vest, jewellery and belt stylist’s own
“Have you ever FaceTimed two phones?” Ezra Miller asks me.
“Well, after you get off this phone call…”
I try it. The result is an unsettling infinite loop. Sounds project from both phones like a radar, as if they’re communicating. Little cheeps of data feeding back to one another in an electronic echo chamber. Freaky.
“For me, family is when we have a personal connection to the universal expression of someone else’s personal creation,” the 25-year-old actor says, inviting me onto his dizzying frequency. “It’s one of the most intense feelings I know.”
I think the most intense feeling I know might be trying to keep up with Miller.
“It’s falling in love, you know?” He continues, “You find this connection through the personal universal and you get to recognise yourself in another person, which is powerful.”
Can I recognise any of Miller’s poetic romance in myself? Can anyone, to this degree? It’s not a mood. It’s his whole personality.
This all started with me asking what his obsessions are, since all of his ventures have come with ready-made fandoms. The teenagers who discovered self-expression reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower. The legions of Potterheads who followed J.K.Rowling’s pen to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. He declares himself a fanboy for Alice Coltrane, Jenny Holzer, Arthur Rimbaud, Roald Dahl and Nick Cave (“that Skeleton Tree stuff, oh my gosh, it just clawed my heart out with a small fork, fuck.”)
How we’ve ended up here, FaceTiming two phones facing each other in a mirror image, I’m unsure. Finally, in what I realise is a typical Miller move by the end of our call, he brings the monologue home.
(LEFT) T-shirt stylist’s own
(RIGHT) Cardigan MARNI, trousers BURBERRY, shoes CHURCH’S and vest, jewellery, belt and socks stylist’s own
“You start to think about what happens when two receptive beings – or phones – look at one another,” he decodes. “That’s how I feel about what happens when you absorb someone else’s work in an authentic, real way. Some people would call that being a fanboy, but I really feel it’s something special, all of a sudden, out of nowhere, you are no longer isolated in existence.” His sentence lingers while I try and decipher the meaning in real time, before he endearingly adds, “Cheesy as it may sound!”
Talking to Miller is, in a word, trippy. His speed changes as quickly as the subject does and he refers to himself as a “useless hippy”. I met the 25-year-old actor briefly on set a month ago. He was poised, if a little stoned, impeccably polite and dumbfoundingly beautiful. I’ll admit I’m almost relieved when our interview is switched to a transatlantic phone call. Trying to maintain eye contact while being fed existential theories might have proved a touch too hypnotic.
For the American actor, home “generally speaking” is London, where he’s stationed reprising his role as troubled wizard, Credence Barebone in the Fantastic Beasts sequel. Today he’s calling me from New York before he heads to Shanghai. “I’m promoting this little indie film I’m in called Justice League,” he giggles.
Appearing as Barry Allen aka The Flash, he’s departing the indie arena and venturing deeper into blockbuster territory. The newest recruit of the Justice League – the gang in charge of saving the world – Barry Allen becomes The Flash when a stray lightning bolt douses him with electrified chemicals, giving him super speed. Though beloved in cult circles for playing Patrick, ringleader of the outsiders in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and the psychopathic protagonist of We Need to Talk About Kevin, he’s taking on super fans on steroids by joining the DC Comics universe.
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“What’s wonderful about this comic book stuff is that this mythology belongs to everyone,” Miller reasons. Even the minutia of Justice League’s development made headlines. When it was revealed his version of Barry would come without the spring mechanism ring that unleashes his Flash suit instantaneously, the internet lost it, but he welcomes the die hards’ attention to detail. “I’m happy to hear any opinion,” he insists. “I consider each of those voices a legitimate perspective on this character… That could sound like a lot of cooks in the kitchen, Lily but you know, we’re making a big soup.”
Another contributor to the formation of Miller’s Flash – a goofy and clueless manifestation of the high speed hero – is Grant Morrison, a legitimate superhero analyst. “For me, he’s the great guruji when it comes to the theory and the secret tricks of comic books,” Miller sing-songs excitedly. He hunted Morrison down in Glasgow for a crash course in embodying The Flash and set about creating the most human superhero possible. “He’s this person who’s actually incredibly inexperienced,” Miller chirps with affection for the underdog. “He’s incredibly new to the superhero game and is not so steady on his feet. The idea of Tehuti the god as an awkward, lanky college student was fascinating to me.”
“I’ve just been interested in following the scent of characters that I find engaging,” he shrugs audibly. ‘It’s really that it’s that shallow for me, if I think a character is cool, I wanna play it.” An indie heartthrob in his smaller films – whether he was playing a sociopathic student or a social outcast – Miller’s shift joining one of the biggest budget movies in history (a cool $300 million) has more poignancy than just a thicker paycheque.
He’s carrying the badge of the first openly LGBTQ+ actor to be cast as a superhero. After announcing he was queer in Out magazine in 2012 he inadvertently became an LGBTQ+ icon, a vocal advocate for self-acceptance and showed the beginnings of a young role model. Miller’s band, Sons of an Illustrious Father released a track, “U.S. Gay” in response to the tragic Pulse shootings. He speaks about the Dakota Access Pipeline at seemingly every opportunity he can. He’s directing the attention of his audience comfortably, in every aspect. “I feel a human responsibility that I think we all share, to listen as deeply as possible to the grievances of others,” he explains. “To try and show up as best I can for the other beings that I am sharing a life with.”
(LEFT) Shirt GUCCI, trousers FENDI, shoes CLARKS and vest, jewellery, belt and socks stylist’s own
(CENTRE) Cardigan SAINT LAURENT by ANTHONY VACCARELLO and T-shirt and jewellery stylist’s own
(RIGHT) Polo shirt MISSONI, jeans LEVI’S and jewellery and belt stylist’s own
After a conversation that has felt like a hallucination, it comes as no surprise when he launches into a speech about our collective “spaceship”: Earth. “It’s in Justice League!” He exclaims, incredulous down the receiver. I imagine him pacing on the other end, like an eccentric professor giving a lecture. “It’s the idea that there are extenuating circumstances that have taken us past the point of being able to live in the delusion of isolation, we have to get over these ridiculous trivial differences!” And what will happen if we don’t?
“We’re all gonna die!” He squeaks. “Our ship is gonna burn up, we’re gonna be out in space. This is not a drill.” All we need to do, he says, is recognise humanity as an interconnected whole. “I’m in awe of the new legions of brilliant self-expressive youngsters who’re 100 per cent the only hope and who we must turn to… I’m definitely ready for the army of queer, super-youngsters to overtake planet Earth and save us all.”
“It’s one of the most gratifying aspects of this work,” he enthuses, “getting to meet young people who are absolutely the warriors, the real Justice League.” It’s leaning on the side of corny, but I tell him his positivity is commendable. He’s so infectious it’s impossible not to. “Listen,” he laughs and lowers his voice, “sometimes I just wanna punch someone in the face.”
It’s exactly this that makes Miller so likeable, obstacle-free honesty. No front, just self-awareness. An endangered quality in Hollywood. How can someone who gets paid to pretend to be someone else every day be so open with who they truly are? “I am a fan boy of the principle of the cosmic identity,” Miller declares, leading me down another spiritual path. “I do think that by being in touch with what is at the root and the core of your own being, you have an access point to an empathic experience of many, many different beings surrounding you. That’s the ‘namaste’. That’s the ‘aloha’. There’s a little tiny light in me, there’s a little tiny light in you, that says ‘howdy’!”
See? Talking to Ezra Miller is trippy. But somehow he makes perfect sense.
Taken from the Winter 17 Issue of Wonderland; out now and available to buy here.
(LEFT) All clothing CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC
(RIGHT) Polo shirt JOHN SMEDLEY, vest KENZO, jeans GUCCI and jewellery stylist’s own
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