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 Kevin, a sociopathic teen, and his tormented mother, Eva. As Kevin, Miller radiates unadulterated malice—with assist from his mesmerizingly sculpted features—while Swinton, who helped develop the project with Ramsay (and is credited as an Executive Producer), turns in another devastating, awards-worthy 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 played his share of provocative young characters whose antics would inspire premature gray 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), dishes about how Swinton measures up as a mom, his June 2011 bust for marijuana possession and playing gay (again) in the upcoming The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
You make poor Tilda’s life a misery in Kevin. What would it be like to have Tilda as your actual mother?
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 so 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.
Kevin’s torment of his mother has a sexual, Oedipal component. You’ve played quite a few characters with sexuality that veers off the beaten path. Is that something you seek out?
I like playing across the spectrum of humanity, in all possible realms, and think I’ve been fortunate enough to come across a lot of roles where the deviation is within sexuality. I like doing it because the fact is all of those are valid, true ways to exist as a sexual being and the heteronormative standard is not as common or adhered to as a lot of people think. So yeah, I do like that. It’s appropriate and honest.
Has playing some of these roles brought out the perverts?
Oh yes, the perverts do Facebook me. In fact, I’ve recently started to consider the abolition of my Facebook page because I get more messages from perverts now than my actual friends. You can always tell when someone is about to be creepy. They say these words: 'I don’t mean to sound creepy, but...' That’s the ultimate flag.
Like personal ads where the person says, ‘no drama.’ You’re guaranteed drama.
Oh yeah. Guar-an-teed. Otherwise, why are you thinking about it and protect yourself against drama? You’re a dramatic person. Inevitably. In-evitably.
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.
Does 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, straight-edge 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.
Have you ever had a gay moment in real 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.
Tom Hardy famously said, when asked about whether he had gay sexual experiences, "Of course, I’m an actor for fuck’s sake."
Right! Absolutely. Our industry is in its very nature a little homosexual, in a good way!
Do we have some gay moments left in you? 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, and ultimately let off. I was shocked to read about that—mostly because I keep forgetting they actually prosecute people for marijuana possession.
Right? They shouldn’t. There are 6 million federal laws in this country. How can you do anything, right? 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. There’s a basic understanding this is a natural plant that has a million benefits and if you can figure out the broad ways in which it can be used responsibly it can work in your favor. 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 as 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, Hot and Busted, so perhaps we can at least make sure yours gets up there.
Yeah, I hope so. I hope I make that cut.