“Fantastic Beasts” Set Visit Interview: Ezra Miller

Ezra Miller, who plays the mysterious Credence in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, is a buzzy ball of energy as he enters the room. Only 23, Miller is well and truly of the Potter generation, and he’s as ecstatic to be here as any of the rest of us would be, like he can’t believe his luck.

His enthusiasm and animated grin fills the room with a noticeable electricity, and though he can share less than anyone else about his character, since information about Credence is still being closely guarded by Warner Bros., his presence reminds me of what this is all about, how exciting it all really is. Harry Potter is coming back. Not in the way we’ve known Rowling’s world before, but in brand-new technicolor, and it’s going to be downright magical.

Ever since we read in Credence’s initial character description that he’s the “troubled adopted son” of the fanatically anti-magic Mary Lou, it’s been a popular fan theory that Credence is a wizard himself, forced to suppress his magic because of the uncompromising views held by his mother. Some have even speculated that Credence will grow to become the series’s villain – but if any of this is true, Miller is keeping it well hidden.

Press:
You’re one of the youngest cast members, and you play a relatively younger character. I mean, you have a mother in this role, so do you have…?

Ezra Miller:
I cannot confirm or deny whether or not my character has now or has ever had a mother.

Press:
Well, do you feel any pressure being around the age of the other Harry Potter characters from the other Harry Potter films where we left off?

Ezra 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.

Press:
Can you talk about working with Eddie Redmayne and Colin Farrell?

Ezra 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?

Press:
Eddie and Colin.

Ezra Miller:
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.

Press:
Can you talk a bit about when [Fantastic Beasts] first came on your radar? Even having the conversations and realizing you were going to join this universe, given the enormity of it and what it already means to so many people…

Ezra 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 Midtown. Not a cool neighborhood. [laughs]

Yeah, I can’t even really describe how [sighs] 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 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 here.

Press:
Have you had a chance to talk to J.K. Rowling at all about your character?

Ezra Miller:
I haven’t met her. She is still very much the wizard behind the curtain to me. Yeah.

Press:
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?

Ezra 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 Half-Blood Prince, and we were camping. I remember that the campsite got rained out. And so we woke up in the middle of the night. We just started driving because 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. I just remember, honestly, the two of us, weeping and weeping and weeping and weeping. Just going through a genuine grief process for Dumbledore. Together, as a father and son, where it’s like this very paternal relationship, obviously, and that was beautiful. Those are heavy times. There’re so many. I mean, it’s countless – I just pulled something out of the blue that I thought of, but it’s a lot I share with many people on planet earth, having a lot of really seminal moments in our early life relate to this fiction.

Press:
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?

Ezra Miller:
Yes. It’s called magic. 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 just human dynamics.

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 supernatural elements of her work into those deeply natural elements, which is what’s the most exciting, I think, for me.

Press:
Has it sunk in to you how bizarre it might feel that, given this film and other projects you have coming up, there are going to be multiple action figures of you sitting on a shelf in toy stores?

Ezra 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 exchangeable suits, maybe some sort of toy where it fits in the little hand, the little plastic hand. Yeah, that’s going to be very weird. I do imagine that that will be odd. But I’m down. I definitely want to make Credence and the Flash have a little battle. [laughs]

Yeah, that part of this stuff… I mean, 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] genuinely way over my head. But I’m really enjoying all aspects of the process, and 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.

Press:
David [Yates, director] 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?

Ezra 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 completely tranquil state directing a massive film like this. You have this vision of the director who’s got to 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.

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 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.

Press:
You’ve played a couple of characters that are emotionally vulnerable, maybe a little bit disturbed. And this character sounds like it’s sort of in the same vein. Can you talk about influences or how you got into character or even influences from past films?

Ezra 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.

[Though Credence’s character remains shrouded in mystery, we have learned a little more about him. For the rest, we’ll just have to wait until November.]

 

Read the rest of our Set Visit coverage here.

This interview has been edited for clarity. Additional formatting provided by Catherine Lai.