BY CINDY PEARLMAN January 19, 2012 6:22PM
Updated: February 23, 2012 8:06AM
For a young actor trying to establish himself, Ezra Miller succeeds in a major way.
“This film generates a reaction like an ouch,” says the 18-year-old actor, who makes an indelible impression playing a coldhearted teenager in “We Need to Talk About Kevin,” based on a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver.
“My first thought when I read the script was this was clearly an off-putting character and someone who was hard to identify with for most of us. Certainly, you can’t identify with his actions. But there is something motivating him that’s very human.”
Miller has a line on what motivates Kevin’s ruthless acts. “I think Kevin has a basic desire for the love of a mother, which we all have to some degree. We see in the movie that he didn’t receive that love in the way he needed it,” he says. “Now, he will do anything to capture that attention that he always hungered for in life.
“For him, the possibilities of capturing that attention are endless. He’s keenly intelligent and has an uncanny ability to perceive his parents’ attitudes towards him. He’s able to weave these complex justifications for this war he declares.”
Miller, who studied teen killers, says the media can turn these kids into stars in a way that’s “terrifyingly similar to the way we posture and promote performers and celebrities. We promote that person to icon status.”
Tilda Swinton plays the mom left to deal with the aftermath. “She was so inspiring and is almost beyond the general standards of what an actress does,” Miller says. “She’s an artist who is able to act upon the power of every moment. There is no effort required for her to be consumed by a character.”
Miller grew up in what he calls “a bland suburban town” in New Jersey, in a house that served his family for three generations.
“We had a pond and woods, and my passion for acting developed in the backyard in those woods,” he says. “I’d dress up in various costumes with one of my older sisters. We’d pretend to be warriors or cowboys.
Miller has starred on the “Royal Pains” and “Californication” TV series and in the movies “City Island” and “Another Happy Day.”
He’s mulling over offers now. “I have this determination to really wait for the right project that will hold as much potency and truth for me as Kevin.”