“Crimes of Grindelwald” Set Visit Interview: Ezra Miller
During our set visit for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Ezra Miller had a lot to share about his character, Credence. He spoke on Credence’s past, his potential futures, and the ways trauma and abuse have complicated his relationships with characters throughout the film. He has yet to reveal if Credence’s famous hairstyle will make a reappearance in this film, but thankfully, the images speak for themselves.
Ezra: Did you guys walk the streets of magical Paris?
Ezra: Oh, isn’t that mind-blowing? Yeah. Just saw the wand and Quidditch shop, the French versions. Almost lost my cool entirely. [I can’t] really contain myself on the streets.
Press: What about the scene you were just shooting?
Ezra: Yeah, I think it exists somewhere outside the actual timeline of this film.
Press: So can you talk a little bit about Credence’s journey? I mean, we don’t know for sure, but it seems he’s much freer now in this movie, and so where is he sort of headed?
Ezra: Yeah. Well, I would say that he is both free and burdened in new ways. Obviously, there is an element of self-awareness that brings both of those factors into play. So he’s free of a lot of the confines he’s known, and he’s free of [the] certain sense of uncertainty that he’s known. But with the consciousness of his reality comes also heavy burdens, and obviously, he’s a bit of a ticking time bomb, given his particular magical condition. And there is a burden that comes in the form of a burning need to know more about who he actually is and to understand the roots that he’s growing from, because obviously, he’s had a very fragmented experience up to this point, so this quest for identity. Which I can’t relate to at all. No one knows what that’s like to try and figure out who you are. It’s obscure.
Press: With a journey like his, are you guys truly on just a film-by-film…? You only know what you need to know for this film?
Ezra: Sometimes we’re given glimpses into the crystal ball by the metaphorical Professor Trelawney. And sometimes we do get a little bit of divination going. We do see through [unintelligible] and other the future of our characters. Some people are playing out longer arcs. But there’s definitely a lot that we do not know. There’s a lot that no one knows except for J.K. Rowling. It’s amazing. It creates, actually, a really dynamic experience, I think, of making a series of movies. I find it really engaging, and I think everyone’s sort of along for the ride, anxious to know more about the story that we’re all telling together.
Press: These [unintelligible] are they from Mary Lou in the first movie, or are they more that have been picked up in the second movie?
Ezra: Yeah. I mean, there’s been a lot of wounding for Credence. There'[re] a lot of sources of the wounds, obviously.
Press: The one on the neck?
Ezra: Yeah, he’s been through a lot. He’s been through the mill, this one.
Press: You just mentioned the scene we were just watching. Did you say it exists out of the timeline of this film?
Ezra: Yeah, you could say that. I don’t want to give away too much. I’m very cautious [about] being a good Secret-Keeper. But yeah, you know how that happens sometimes. It’ll be sort of the real time of a film’s journey and then there will be insights into other moments. Could be flashbacks, could be flash-forwards.
Press: Well, we know there’s a prologue where he’s reforming a little bit. Would you say it’s part of that?
Ezra: See, that’s another one of those ones where it sort of could be considered outside the timeline of the story. I mean, when it comes to reforming, it’s hard to place it precisely in time. Yes, if you guys feel certain that there’s a time of reforming, then I can say that I feel that that’s true too. How literal it is, [I] can’t tell you.
Press: We saw some of the art for the circus. So can you tell us a little bit about Credence and the circus and sort of what happens with that?
Ezra: Yes. The Circus Arcanus. It’s really interesting. I mean, obviously, the histories of sideshows are disturbing ones. That world would have been a world of a lot of heavy exploitation. Definitely some animal cruelty. At the very least, PETA would have been displeased. And it’s interesting because we heard in Credence’s narrative in the first film the derogatory term “freak” thrown at him in a way that was deeply affective, right? And I find it really interesting that we find him here in a sideshow, in a freak show, as they were known. And yeah, I mean, obviously, it’s fascinating to be a part of this exploration of what that world looked like but in the magical context, because obviously, also, for all of its exploitative practices, it’s a place where some people with strange abilities and incredible talents were sort of being glimpsed by the real Muggle world. And so it’s obviously a beautiful set and incredible things. Magic circus. I mean, I don’t have to sell you on that.
Press: In the first movie, there was a weird connection between Grindelwald and Credence. I was wondering, was the idea to portray an abusive relationship or not? [Will we] see more of this explored in the sequel?
Ezra: I definitely felt, personally, that a lot of the exploration with Credence revolved around the idea of abuse and some of the different ways that trauma can happen to a young person. I definitely personally see that in a lot of the exploration of Credence. It’s said many times in this series that love is a form of light magic, right? And so Grindelwald’s manipulation of love, targeting that deficit that he could perceive in Credence, is a form of abuse. You could also say it’s a form of Dark Magic, to wield power over that human need.
Press: Credence seems to be finding his place in the wizard[ing] world from a Muggle world and he has lived with Muggles who attempted to stamp the wizard out of him, which are things that are very parallel to Harry Potter. Did you find any inspiration from his character when you were developing this new role that you’ll be taking on in the new film?
Ezra: What I think is interesting in the story of Credence is that he has been betrayed and mistreated by both worlds at this point. He has been mistreated by folks in the wizarding world and No-Maj or Muggle folks as well. And so I think there’s a great skepticism of everyone he sees. I find in Credence this feeling that if he’s ever going to look someone in the eye, it’s going to be to analyze and question their intent and their integrity because he’s just been given no basis to perceive trustworthiness or compassion in another person. And so I find that to be an important part of the exploration. I think he has very little knowledge of any of the Dumbledore folks at this point. I mean, there was a wizard alluded to who[m] Grindelwald was obviously portraying as a sinister figure to him, and I think that is the extent of his knowledge.
Press: I think something that’s going to be on a lot [of] people’s minds is the hair. What’s happening with the hair? Is it coming back? Is it going out? I mean, what are you hoping? It’s tough. Because people want to know.
Ezra: Yeah, I mean, I think that is probably the hook that’ll bring people back to those seats. So I really wouldn’t want to leak any crucial information. I mean, it could be, right? I mean, you can only see edges. This is the perfect time to do this. And also, we said we don’t know where this is in the timeline. I mean, there could be new Credence hairdos.
Press: So we were told that Credence becomes friends with… I’m not sure if they’re people or creatures in the circus. Is there anything you can tell us about those relationships?
Ezra: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to share anything. When you’re in a traveling circus, “it’s complicated” is pretty much the relationship status across the board.
Press: [Can you tell us anything about] Credence’s new look aside from the hair? You’ve got some more color going on, a bit of tweed.
Ezra: Oh, look, I’m pretty grateful to slip into any given garment that can be found around this entire set. I mean, it’s hard to keep me in the clothes I’ve been assigned. Obviously, Colleen Atwood is a supreme master. [It’s] really fun to work with her.
Press: You mentioned that Credence has difficulty trusting people, but there was Tina and there was a sort of a bonding relationship in that and we were told earlier that that sort of [gets] expand[ed] on and Tina actually goes and looks for him. Can you expand a bit [on] that?
Ezra: Yeah, I mean certainly, we’ve seen sort of only fragments of a story in which Tina did care for Credence, and that was a rare and noted instance in Credence’s story. But again, when you really think about it, what does Credence actually know about that human being [and] where she comes from? I mean, the last interaction was a deeply confusing one, where there [were] a lot of things going on on the subway tracks. So yeah, I think that’s one of the connections, which is really what I find so great about this film we’re working on now, is this further expansion of the world. And many of the characters have inherent velocity toward one another for one reason or another. Everyone has a really strong drive when you look at the characters in this story, both the ones we’re following from the last film and new ones who play crucial roles in the lives of those characters we met in the first one. And that, I always find to be a fascinating dynamic, particularly in a series, when there’s a core group of characters we really care about who then are on journeys that we have a question of whether or not they will lead back to one another. I think that stuff is cool.
Press: Would you like to see Credence with a romantic storyline? Because I feel like young people are interested in other people romantically, and it’s a normal phase of growing up and Credence was deprived of so much of a normal [childhood]. So is that something that you would hope to see/we will see, if you can answer?
Ezra: Yeah, I wouldn’t want to speculate, specifically. I’m so grateful to be along for whatever the ride is. I don’t really have any hopes or demands for the trajectory of the character. I trust the writer. But I am really interested in all sorts of directions that could be possible in Credence’s exploration, because I think there is a seed of common truth to the story of Credence that is really interesting to apply to all different sorts of relationships or rights of passage in life, because obviously, for anyone who’s had that sort of history, there would be a continued history of working through it.
Press: Just in terms of the production schedule, [were] you caught between shooting this film and going back to shoot the reshoots for Justice League? And how did that work out just in terms of scheduling?
Ezra: There’s this thing called a Time-Turner. Harry Potter [and] the Prisoner of Azkaban. It’s a dangerous tool to use. You have to be very careful. But when you want to take a lot of classes in a Hogwarts semester, you just got to do it sometimes and you just got to make sure you take care of yourself and drink lots of warm beverages. England is good for that. Yeah, no, there have been no conflicts whatsoever. It’s been a breeze.
Press: You emphasized that this movie will feature much more character dynamics and more action with those characters. [Are] there any pieces that you’re excited to play around with for your character?
Ezra: Yeah, I mean, you guys are looking at the construction of one, right? You saw the actual circus going up? Yeah, I’m excited about a bunch of set pieces. Which ones can we talk about? One of them I missed – I know I can talk about this because no one could keep this one in the bag – is Hogwarts. There’s some Hogwarts, which – spoiler alert – I’m not in. It’s fine. No, it’s fine. Yeah, I thought I would try to sneak into the back of a class. It’s very hard. They have a lot of protections.
Press: [Unintelligible] shouldn’t we have gotten one?
Ezra: Why are you doing this? You’re just pouring lemon on an open wound. That Himalayan salt. You’re grinding it in a deep wound right now.
Press: Didn’t you at least get to go on the sets? Did you at least have a look around?
Ezra: Honestly, I thought it was great. I had a couple [of] weeks off to do some other work. I was doing that work. I was in the United States and around different parts of Europe, and I came back and I was just asking what they’d been up to and how it’d been. And they said, “Oh, it’s been pretty much the same except for we did have that week where we were in Hogwarts.” And I was so deeply devastated trying to cover it up, play it cool. I was like, “Oh, that’s fine. What Chocolate Frog are you talking about?” Nobody called me. Nobody even thought to send a text.
Press: So we’ve heard that the actors get some ownership over the character. So besides requesting to be at Hogwarts, is there anything in the first movie or this one that you sort of added in or asked [for]?
Ezra: Honestly, no.
Press: Just happy to be here.
Ezra: Yeah, what’s really great, and what I find really wonderful, is the way that this environment facilitates expression is really special. It’s a very particular feeling on this set. It’s immense. It’s also more quiet than a lot of smaller sets I’ve ever been on. And there’s a real sense of collaboration in the process of finding each scene. We take time to rehearse, which is a rare gift when you’re on a studio schedule making an enormous movie. We have a lot of really considered conversations in which everyone’s voice is heard who’s participating in the scene. We work really intimately with these various devoted departments, like the puppeteers and the visual effects department, the props department, various people who are enabling us to fall deeper and deeper into a world of imagination… And so that is a delight. I haven’t had any specific requests for things to happen in the story. I’m very, very, very pleased with all of the material. I find a lot of depth and meaning in it. I still do. I still relate and connect to it as directly as I did when I was first interacting with the material as a young person, and to be able to ride that wave through this creative experience is sicky nar nar, bro.
Press: There’s our headline right there.
Ezra: Yeah, “Actor Says Experience in Movie is ‘Sicky Nar Nar, My Broskies.'”
Press: Was keeping the Johnny Depp secret one of the toughest things?
Ezra: Oh, no. Now, see, this is great. What’s great is when I don’t have to keep it secret because I genuinely don’t know. I mean, right before it became common knowledge, we were doing a shoot that happened after production on the first one. It was some additional photography, which was around the time when he was doing his work. And I did not know who it was until I was literally shaking his hand.
Ezra: People were just calling him Johnny. So no, that’s the easiest type of secret to keep.
Press: They certainly keep a lot of secrets from you.
Ezra: Yeah. As I said, it’s very exciting. It’s very exciting. You just never know what’s coming for sure. But again, just along for the ride. Cowabunga sicky nar nar, bros.
Read the rest of our set visit coverage here.
This interview has been edited for clarity. Additional formatting provided by Felicia Grady.