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I finally got to see We Need to Talk About Kevin, which is now on DVD and blu-ray. It’s definitely worth all the hype. Ezra’s role as an evil teen is a lot more subtle then I imagined, which makes you almost care for his character.
PRODUCTIONS > Movies > We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) > HD Screencaptures
First Perks of Being Wallflower stills and now the official poster in HQ featuring Ezra, Emma, and Logan, and a clip of the trailer that will be shown at the MTV Movie Awards pre-show Sunday! You can also go on the official facebook, and comment with questions you have for Ezra, author Stephen Chbosky and Logan Lerman for their live Q&A
PRODUCTIONS > Movies > The Perks of Being a Wallflower (2012) > Promotional
In Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, playing the profoundly disturbed son of Eva (Tilda Swinton) and Franklin (John C. Reilly), Ezra Miller delivers a stunning performance. Kevin is a duplicitous boy, feigning easygoing normalcy for his dad, but baring his true self – a malicious, rage-filled soul – to his horrified mother. For the 19-year-old who only made his big-screen debut four years ago in Antonio Campos’ Afterschool, it is a career high to date, earning him a British Independent Film Awards nomination for Best Supporting Actor. What is most striking about the young actor during a January phone call is the enthusiasm and warmth that blasts through the phone, a marked contrast to the role he so thoroughly inhabited. It is a performance not many have seen yet – the film earned under $2 million at the American box office in a limited release – but that should change now that We Need to Talk About Kevin is available on demand and coming out on DVD on May 29.
Q: How do you get into a character like this, who is so angry and so self-contained?
A: You know there’s a lot in this movie that has to do with memory. Almost the whole movie is told through the hindsight perspective of Eva. For me, the formation of the character came in a similar fashion, where obviously what composes a human being will largely be the experiences of his life before the point that we meet him. In this movie we see really sort of the highlights in Eva’s memory from Kevin’s conception. For me, it was about sort of internalizing those memories and making those memories my own, elaborating on those memories and finding the way the track of this person’s life, in combination with just who he innately was, led him to feel so much rage and aggression and hostility.
A lot of that process is simply sitting and thinking and reminiscing on a lifetime that truly was not my own, was this invented lifetime and finding the way that that forms everything from the way that Kevin moves to the way he talks to the way he looks at his mother.
Q: John C. Reilly has talked about how the story is told through Eva’s eyes and since she is not necessarily a reliable narrator, it skewed the way he played the father. Did you feel that way as well?
A: It was absolutely a matter of at certain times addressing the fact that I was playing a dream figure or a formation of someone’s memory, particularly a memory at a time in her life when she is under the weight of extreme emotions, as sort of polarizing her reminiscence of who Kevin was at various times. I would say polarization would be the most prominent factor when someone’s looking back at this experience that they – because of the nature of an event, you associate all the details with the centerpiece of that event. Perhaps at times his malice is exaggerated in her hindsight. Those were certainly considerations the whole way through except for a single scene that I personally believe to be in real time and actual.
Q: How did this come to you? Was it just another script coming through your agent or was this something you knew about and actively pursued?
A: Oh yes! Initially, it came through an agent just like any other script does, in an email. But I read it and it sort of consumed me. It became instantaneously my most passionate pursuit. I’ve truly never wanted anything more. I vehemently chased this film. I went in and auditioned for it with a casting director. Then I met Lynne the second time I went in. I was very excited about it. I spent a bizarre majority of my time considering the way to approach this character, not knowing we were almost two years away from when the film would actually be made.
The film disappeared for a while, to my absolutely horror. I was pretty consistently annoying my agent when he was trying to show me other wonderful options and things that could be great and fun. I would say, “Yes, sure, cool, whatever. What’s going on with We Need to Talk About Kevin? What’s happening with that?” It vanished for a little while, as a lot of films at that time did – it was around the time of the economic crisis. Several months later it re-emerged and I was ecstatic and then put myself back on the intense regimen of spending most of my day considering how to properly approach this character.
Q: Was the audition process still going on at this point?
A: Yes. I met Lynne for a second time and then for a third time with her companion and co-writer Rory [Kinnear] and then after that, there was a chemistry read with Tilda. So now tensions are heightening and I’m sort of starting to become a nervous wreck in all other aspects of my life. I’m walking around subway platforms terrifying people, because I’m in character. I think when I was going to that chemistry read with Tilda someone actually got out of their seat on the subway platform and moved to the other end of the platform just because I’d been giving them the Kevin stare. Then after the chemistry read, I waited two weeks, just chewing every available part of my body. Any part of my body that my mouth could reach, I would chew incessantly.
Q: Was the chemistry test the end of the auditions?
A: I got a call from Lynne and she just had this specific thing that she really wanted to do. She wanted to see the last scene, because we’d been doing all these other scenes from the film and there’s an extreme difference in that last scene. There’s something new. We see a mask drop, we see a performance slip, Kevin’s performance. That’s really a key factor of that character, that pretty much all of the time that we see him, he is performing. So to see that change, to see that sort of glimpse through the facade, it was essential for Lynne to see.
She told me to come on Saturday and she meant Sunday. I came on Saturday and was waiting in the lobby and she had already left the building, but fortunately, she had forgotten her cell phone, so she came back and saw me there. “Oh my God, I’ve made such a mistake! Oh no, I’m so sorry! Why don’t you just come and have a drink with us?” I was not at the time old enough to drink. I’m still not old enough to drink by technical New York City/United States law, but I came and sat with them in this pub near the place where they were staying and we talked for about four hours about the movie and about the scene we were going to do the next day and the character. I really think that was sort of an invaluable accident. I think we were able to truly connect and understand that we felt and saw many of the same things for this film. So we said goodbye and I came back the next day. We did the scene and by the end of the scene, everybody was crying.
I still had to wait for another two weeks. At this point, most of my my body was down to bone. Then she cast me, so it was fortunate that I chewed myself down to bone, because then I had to lose 20 pounds to be the malnourished Kevin. That’s sort of the epic saga in its entirety.
Q: Lynne has said that one of the things that impressed her about you is that you were not intimidated by Tilda Swinton. Was that true from that first chemistry read or did that just fall away as you got to know her?
A: (Laughs) I wouldn’t say I wasn’t intimidated by Tilda Swinton. That seems like the highest form of hyperbole, but certainly when I entered that chemistry read, I was for the most part sort of within the mind frame of the character. When I met Tilda, obviously I stepped out of the mental initiative of that character and met Tilda, but still in sort of my emotional core was carrying this hatred, disgust and resentment. I think that sort of masked the true emotion, which was absolute admiration and a feeling of laudation toward Tilda, who has been one of my heroes in this art form for a long time. I think it was a convenient deception. It just sort of turned out that way. – Pam Grady
Photo By Stephane Feugere
CANNES, France — A year after his chilling portrayal of a mass-murdering teen in “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” Ezra Miller is back at the Cannes Film Festival — and trying to convince people that he is a nice guy, really.
“I think maybe the pervasive fear of me as a person is slowly fading away, which is nice,” he says. “If you meet someone for the first time and they’ve only seen ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin,’ for the first 10 minutes of that conversation, they’re really wondering if I’m truly a bad guy, and I’m really acting now.”
The 19-year-old’s next movie, “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” is unlikely to dispel his reputation for playing tortured high schoolers. In Stephen Chbosky’s adaptation of his cult coming-of-age novel, Miller stars as Patrick, a gay adolescent who goes by the nickname Nothing.
“I’ve just spent a year or two reading that I’m capable of only playing dark, dysfunctional humans,” he shrugs. “Every human is dark and dysfunctional, and I’m not interested in movies that make up a story that’s fun for us to pretend is real.”
But whether or not he knows it, Miller is about to leap into another league. As recent spreads in L’Uomo Vogue and GQ attest, the 19-year-old actor has blossomed into something of a heartthrob — all cheekbones, soulful eyes and pillowy lips.
The fact that Sean Penn was the godfather of this year’s Chopard event was the icing on the cake.
Miller credits Penn with triggering an “epiphany” when he was 11. “From one character to another, Sean Penn is unrecognizable, whole human beings — every time, without fail,” he says.
Finding a balance between high art and earning a living is something the young actor is still working out. In addition to acting, he plays drums and sings in the New York-based band Sons of an Illustrious Father. An opera buff since the age of 6, Miller is equally comfortable wearing a tuxedo to the Met and joining the Occupy Wall Street protesters at Zuccotti Park. Sitting in the Chopard Lounge on the rooftop terrace of the tony Hotel Martinez, he sports the slogan “99 Percent” written on his left hand in black ballpoint pen.
“I know the world of high art, power, privilege, and then I know the world of complete crust punk, do-it-yourself, independent art making, and I think they both have things to learn from each other,” he says. “That’s where I want to be, using the power of both those worlds.”
Up next is his first period drama. Miller starts filming this summer opposite Mia Wasikowska in an adaptation of the classic French 19th century novel “Madame Bovary.”
Known for playing tormented youngsters, Ezra Miller discussed his latest, most challenging role as a murderous teenager in “We Need To Talk About Kevin” (2011).
Tufts Daily: What was the audition process like for you?
EZRA MILLER: This was a long, arduous audition process. I first went in two years before we made this [movie]. I was really invested in this project from the beginning. The second I read the script, I wanted it very badly! Then, when I got a callback to meet with Lynne [Ramsay, the director,] it was very exciting. I met with Lynne and it went really well. And then I was primed for a “yes” or a “no,” which is the exciting and nerve-wracking part. I stood on the edge of that cliff for a little while.
A few months went by, and “Kevin” sort of disappeared, which was incredibly stressing. The financial crisis came, and a lot of films lost momentum. Then, a year later, it just reappeared to my great jubilation. I then auditioned for Lynne again and then there was a chemistry read with Tilda [Swinton], so that constituted a fifth audition. It seemed like the chemistry reading with Tilda would have been the last audition, but then I got a call from Lynne and she needed to see one more thing. I think it was important for her to see the dualistic aspects that come into play regarding the nature of this character. Another two weeks wait and she offered me the role. I feel very lucky that it worked out and also that my nervous system survived that auditioning process. It almost drove me to madness, but then it all worked out for the best.
TD: How did you find this character?
EM: For me — although when I initially read the script, sociopathic behavior is written all over this kid — the more I considered it and the more I personally delved into an understanding of his head, the more I came to think he was not a sociopath. He is someone who, over the course of his life, responds to circumstance. As a coping or defense mechanism, he let his intelligence and his penetrating wit dominate the empathetic aspect of his brain. Particularly, in adolescence, this pressing need for authenticity in various aspects of his life rises to the surface, and he is determined to dispel the superficial, trivial goings-on in his family. This need to find some real, honest truth in the connection between him and his mother — that particular longing was important for me.
TD: Did you connect with Kevin in any way?
EM: Yeah, I think that’s what was so intriguing. This person fits into the brand or category of “those we don’t understand,” but [he] struck me as being so understandable. Someone who has basic deprivations in his early life, who is hyperaware and who found his own tools in terms of exposing the harsher realities of his situation. He simultaneously struck me as someone who was a challenge to understand and was very understandable. That was the intrigue.
TD: Was it psychologically draining to play this role every single day, or were you able to remove yourself?
EM: Draining is the word. It certainly would leave me, day after day, feeling caught up in the emotional state of the character. And, when I would finally have a moment to let go, I realized how very fatigued my body was and how badly some part of me was hoping to get back to an apathetic form of existence. It’s amazing to discover your own endless resource of horribleness. It cannot be exhausted. It renews itself. For this project, my horrible parts were ready, willing and able. It didn’t entirely hit me how draining the experience had been until the film was about a week over.
TD: What was it like for you to work with Tilda?
EM: That’s the question I’m asked most and it’s the hardest to eloquently answer because she is someone who very much defies explanation. What truly can be said is that she is one of the most brilliant artists of our time and it was an unbelievably awe-inspiring and beautiful learning experience for me to even be near her as a human being, let alone work with her. Tilda has the strongest internal compass of any artist I’ve ever known. It’s like gravity pulls every aspect of her being into the orbit of every moment of a scene. To be involved in a scene with her makes the process of acting, as it should always be, the easiest thing in the world. All that becomes hard is dealing with the true emotions of the characters in these relationships. By her grace, you glide from beat to beat, remaining present because she brings you there. It was amazing to the point that I have trouble describing it. I can only be incredibly grateful for every second of it.
Ezra Miller is a complicated, brooding teenager, but one who ruminates far outside the perimeter of the ordinary pubescence.
Miller, 19, is the eponymous star of We Need to Talk About Kevin, a chilling introspective on the evolution of sociopathic mania in seemingly normal life. Miller’s portrayal of the sadistic Kevin, whose entire adolescence is a practice to antagonize his mother Eva, (Tilda Swinton) is a mature character study. Yet, during our recent interview, Miller dissected Kevin into rational themes. He empathized with Kevin as being one in the category of “those we don’t understand.” He defended Kevin’s “longing” and “yearning.” And it was a bit frightening…Photo courtesy of BBC Films
“The second that I read the script, I really wanted it very badly,” explains Miller. It was a long audition process of six auditions – and a year of quiet after the financial crisis – before Miller was confirmed for the role. “I was constantly pestering my agent about where [the role] went. I feel very lucky that…my persistence survived the auditioning process for a film that I wanted so badly, it almost drove me to madness.”
Miller’s obsession to grow close to Kevin came in the “challenge of someone who was simultaneously hard to understand and very understandable,” a mission that mirrors mother Eva’s same attempts in the film. Throughout the film, Kevin terrorizes his family, each act growing in brutality as he grows older. Some of his acts are near unbearable to witness onscreen, an experience perhaps made more harrowing by filmmaker Lynne Ramsay’s implication, rather than visual exhibition, of much of his savagery.
Kevin’s ruthlessness not only distresses the audience, but emotionally exhausted Miller too. “Draining is the word… caught up in the emotional state of the character. It’s amazing to discover your own endless resource of horribleness. It renews itself …it’s not even intentional…”
Despite Kevin’s cruelty, Miller doesn’t perceive – and doesn’t play – Kevin as psychotic. “When I initially read the script, [I saw] sociopathic behavior is written all over. The more I considered it…the more I came to think that he is not a sociopath, he is someone who, over the course of his life, responds to circumstance,” explained Miller.
Responds to circumstance. This is the same justification often bestowed to defend juvenile criminals of horrendous crimes. And while Miller certainly doesn’t condone Kevin’s havoc, when prompted, he admits that he “connects” with Kevin.
“What was intriguing was that [Kevin] is this person who has basic deprivations in [his] early life, is hyper aware, and then is someone who, from a young age, found [his] own tools, in terms of exposing and bringing to the surface, the harsher realities of this situation. And then, [Kevin is] someone for whom those tools became more comfortable and perhaps the only available mode of operation.”
Miller’s empathy for and apparent connection with Kevin do invite questions into the darkness of their shared penumbra. Yet, Miller’s fraternity with Kevin does result in artistic mastery. Miller’s sympathy for Kevin warps into a performance so palpable that audiences themselves contort their seated bodies at their anticipated, rather than visual, horror. Miller can furnish this unrelenting anxiety, even with small, meticulous ticks of disturbia, because he renders Kevin, so relentlessly and unforgivingly, human.
We Need to Talk About Kevin released in Boston on March 9, 2012.
In light of the recent school shooting in Chardon, Ohio, there is something tragically timely about the movie “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” which opens in limited release this week.
Based on a 2003 novel of the same name, the film tells the story of a mother (Tilda Swinton) struggling through the aftermath of her teenage son Kevin’s (Ezra Miller) horrific crimes and, through a series of flashbacks, details the boy’s bizarre and troubled youth leading up to the tragedy. Above all else, the movie poses one unspoken question: What went wrong with Kevin?
In answering that question, the age-old debate of nature vs. nurture is the logical place to start. Was Kevin born a manipulative, hateful psychopath or was he simply a victim of circumstance, bad parenting? I recently caught up with Kevin himself, Ezra Miller, and asked.
“I don’t believe in the concept of ultimate evil, or ultimate good, for that matter,” Miller, 19, told me. “I feel like, not only is it off base, but I feel like it’s also counterproductive. We can keep calling each other evil and killing each other forever if we want, but I really do think that every single human, creature, thing is a composition of many different aspects of light and dark nature, both sort of conflicting and coexisting in order to create anyone.”
He continued, “My approach to Kevin was never as a monster or someone evil, but someone whose circumstances had driven them to a place of extremity.”
It’s a tough line to swallow, especially considering how unshakably distant and disturbed the younger versions of Kevin (Rocky Duer and Jasper Newell) are portrayed, despite the admittedly frustrated efforts of his mother. However, it appears to be Kevin’s mom, who is played with brilliant depth and devastation by Swinton, who is made to shoulder the blame.
“I [viewed Kevin] as a kid who was after what every human being is, on some level, innately entitled to, which is the love of a mother,” Miller said, explaining how he sympathizes with his character. “And I saw him pursuing that, even in the most misguided and horrific ways.”
Often more disturbing than Miller’s performance as teenage Kevin, was that of young Newel, who plays the 6-to-8-year-old version of boy. Noting the precise similarities in menacing facial expressions and tormented body language (not to mention the same jet-black hair style), I questioned Ezra about the process of coordinating with his tiny counterpart.
“Both Kevins and myself were able to get some time in the week before production,” Miller explained. “We made a ‘Kevin room’ in the production office. We’d lock ourselves in there. We’d exchange mean looks. Sinister conversations were had. We’d make makeshift weapons. If anyone came in the room, we’d pelt them with dodge balls.”
Miller also pointed out that watching the young Kevins on set was like creating memories for his teenage character. Instead of imagining what Kevin’s relationship with his mother was like at age 6, he was fortunate enough to watch it happen and use the emotions as context for his performance. Unfortunately, a performance wrought with such tragedy and angst can also take its toll on an actor.
“There were a variety of difficulties. First of all, to find a way to identify with someone so complex on a human level was a challenge. And once I found that avenue – at the end of the day – being able to let go of the great amount of emotional and physical discomfort that the character exists in … those were sort of two challenges that I was combating.”
Ezra Miller plays a bad, bad boy in We Need to Talk About Kevin, director Lynne Ramsay’s adaptation of Lionel Shriver’s chilling novel about a sociopathic teen and his tormented mother, Eva. As Kevin, Miller exudes undiluted malice — with assist from his exotic, sculpted features — while Swinton, who helped develop the project, turns in another devastating performance.
Miller’s own mother was moved to tears when she saw Kevin with him at its Cannes Film Festival world premiere last May. “I never heard her cry this particular way before,” Miller recalls, “and it was the first testament to the possibility that the performance and film had been a success.”
Mind you, the 18-year-old Miller has already played his share of provocative young characters whose antics would inspire premature grey hairs in most parents, including a prep school kid with a taste for violent Internet porn in 2008’s Afterschool, Chubby-chasing horndog in 2009’s City Island and gay teen in 2010’s Every Day.
Via telephone, the New Jersey-born actor, who also plays drums in band Sons of An Illustrious Father (which recently released their second album, One Body), dished about how Swinton measures up as a mom, his June 2011 bust for marijuana possession, and being gay (again) in the upcoming The Perks of Being a Wallflower… as well as off-screen.
— Lawrence Ferber
Dallas Voice: You make poor Tilda’s life a misery in Kevin. What would it be like to actually have Tilda as your mother? Ezra Miller: It would be amazing. Honestly, having Tilda as a mother would be a beautiful, lovely, wonderful experience. She has two children and they’re absolute angels, really wonderful people, and it seems like they’re being raised right. They stay away from technology, they have vivid imaginations, they play all the time. It would be very dreamy and quite the polar opposite from the relationship our characters had in the film.
Have you had any bad seed moments in real life? I remember I put chewing gum in my friend Devon’s hair when I was in, I dunno, second grade. I did it for no reason. It was one of those things where you’re holding chewing gum in your hand and see the hair and do it. I remember my parents were very horrified. Kids naturally, in the exploration of life and your own capacity as a human being, discover how to lie and hurt and deceive and manipulate and have to do it. Flex their muscles.
Tilda played another mother in crisis in The Deep End, in which her gay son gets caught up with dangerous characters. Did you watch that prior to working with her? I had seen that film before I was considering this one, but didn’t refer to it in the work. One of the most important things about working with an actor you know the work of is, to the best of your ability, to forget about it. Those characters and situations are irrelevant. You’re creating a story with someone who, in my mind, is a real person to my character. That was just my mother, Eva. To actually detach all associations of other characters she’s played it’s a natural part of the objective and easy because she carves a lot of distinction into each of the characters she plays.
I read in an interview with Lynne Ramsay where she said you were underage and lied about it when cast in the film. That is a bold-faced lie! They made a mistake. They just assumed I was of age. There was a sheet in the casting director’s office that said, “Write down your birthday if you’re under 18,” and I wrote down my birthday. I admitted it. They’ve been trying to blame me for it since. You can’t believe everything Lynne Ramsay tells you.
Was that a big problem? I think they did have to make some accommodations and get a general verbal agreement from me that I would be willing to work any and all hours to make this film possible. I think the initial concern was trying to accommodate the hours [since minors have limited working hours]. But I voiced great determination to be part of this film and think that commitment comforted them enough.
You play gay in Wallflower as Patrick, older brother to Emma Watson’s character and friend to the protagonist, Charlie. What can you tell us about that character? I can tell you he’s an outstanding, charismatic, prideful young lad who has a beautiful ability to transform his circumstance into one of levity. He can make light of any situation, which I came to admire. He almost has this internal mechanism to bring the light out of any given situation.
Doe Patrick have a boyfriend? Yes! He has a boyfriend whom he keeps secret, because the boyfriend’s closeted and ashamed. He’s the high school quarterback. One of those.
It was nice to see you play a well-adjusted, kind gay kid in Every Day. Right! He was a good, friendly character. People keep telling me I’m always playing one character. There’s a range.
Tom Hardy said, when asked about whether he had gay sexual experiences, “Of course, I’m an actor, for fuck’s sake.” Do you, umm, agree with Tom in your own life? “Of course! Many! I’ve had many, you know, happy ending sleepovers’in my early youth — my period of exploration. I think that’s essential. Anyone who hasn’t had a gay moment is probably trying to avoid some confrontation with a reality in their life.
Do you have some gay moments still to come? Is there any hope for the guys crushing on you? I’m not sure. Perhaps. I keep my options open. My spectrum remains broad. I’ve been in love with a lot of girls lately but that doesn’t necessarily suggest anything definite about the future.
In June you were arrested for marijuana possession, about 20 grams of it, and ultimately let off. I was shocked to read about the arrest – mostly because I keep forgetting they actually prosecute people for marijuana possession. Right? They shouldn’t. It’s a ridiculous law based on ridiculous things. But I think people are coming around. Medicalization of marijuana is happening in more and more states. Of course, there is one sweeping issue, which is nonviolent drug convictions constitute a lot of what puts people in jail in this country and the prison industrial complex is one of our last booming industries. Pot also stands to take a lot of money away from the pharmaceutical industry. It’s a painkiller and dopamine inhibitor. It serves all of these functions that there are all these harmful, extreme drugs prescribed to serve. So there’s money to be made in the continued illegality of that plant. But I feel no shame. It’s a plant. Everybody knows what pot is. And I don’t care. It was a very enlightening experience to see the way the chief of police called the media and it all results in me handing money to a judge in the form of a fine. Yeah. My journey in the legal system.
There’s a website dedicated to hotties’ mugshots, (hotandbusted.tumblr.com), so perhaps we can at least make sure yours gets up there. Yeah, I hope so. I hope I make that cut.