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Ezra Miller From Childhood To The Flash

Until recently, Ezra Miller (who uses they/them pronouns) was best known for their role as Barry Allen aka The Flash in the DC Universe, but they are perhaps currently better known for their erratic behavior, leading to negative press, general concern for their well-being, and legal woes. Before the recent controversies and allegations (via Vulture), Miller was highly regarded for their dramatic acting skills and held up as a queer icon because of their outspoken representation of the LGBTQIA+ community in the entertainment industry. Miller has also delighted fans with their irreverent red-carpet style and intrigued us with their free-spirited persona.

Before that, Miller was just a kid growing up in suburban New Jersey who developed an early interest in performing. They developed from an unknown child opera singer to a teenage indie darling, whom Interview magazine dubbed film's newest "King of Adolescent Pain" in less than a decade. In their early career, Miller graced both the big and small screens while building a reputation for vanishing into their roles.

Miller then became a DC superhero and a wizard in the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise, before being reduced to tabloid fodder, labeled as troubled, and causing alarm among those who have worked with Miller. Stephen Chbosky, who directed Miller in "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," told Vanity Fair, "I hope Ezra finds the light that they shined so brightly, because the kid I met was a remarkably magical person."

Join us as we retrace Miller's life from childhood to "The Flash."

Miller grew up in New Jersey

As Ezra Miller told Kate Bosworth in a chat for Interview magazine, "I'm from the dirty depths of New Jersey." Miller's father, Robert S. Miller, is a publishing executive. Their mother, Marta, is a dancer, and they have two older sisters. Despite living in New Jersey, the family kept an apartment in Chelsea for their regular visits to Manhattan, and once they were old enough, Miller lived in Chelsea rather than New Jersey while shooting on location for acting gigs.

Miller told Bosworth, "My mother is an artist through and through," sharing how their mother encouraged their creativity and curiosity as a child, adding, "I love my family and I had a very wonderful, magical childhood." Despite their tight-knit family unit, Miller didn't like their home state, telling Bosworth, "New Jersey was actually a very cold place. There was such an intense concentration of wealth, and such a low concentration of any actual human happiness," suggesting Miller couldn't wait to leave the nest to experience unknown places and people.

In 2001, Miller starred in the opera White Raven

As reported by GQ, Ezra Miller struggled as a child despite growing up in a privileged area in New Jersey. They were born with a speech impediment and suffered from night terrors, saying, "Sleep paralysis demons would just plague me." As reported by The Daily Beast, Miller began training as an opera singer at the behest of their kindergarten teacher. Miller had been doing speech therapy, but they weren't breathing deeply enough to finish their sentences. They told The Daily Beast that opera training is about "control and manipulation of the breath," explaining how this training method helped Miller correct their stutter.

Miller's opera training also opened up the world of performing arts to them. In 2001, Miller starred in the Robert Wilson and Philip Glass opera "White Raven," telling Collider that the experience was "very empowering." In 2012, Miller told New York magazine that the experience of starring in the opera was "the most profound ego boost that an eight-year-old could possibly receive." Their performance in "White Raven" led to two seasons in the children's chorus at the Metropolitan Opera house. Their interest later transitioned to acting, with Miller telling Movieline, "Film just sort of naturally evolved from theater and musical theater and the opera thing."

Miller made their film debut in Afterschool

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Ezra Miller got their first agent after a performance at a charity event, leading to their film debut in 2008 at 14 years old. "Afterschool" premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, with Miller telling THR, "And then I was just hooked to film." Miller played Robert, an internet-addicted misfit who inadvertently videos the drug overdose of twins at his boarding school. Director Antonio Campos told New York magazine, "I could just tell he was special" and sensed they were smarter than other teens, adding that Miller "wasn't afraid to make a fool of himself."

This positive debut set Miller up for a career as an indie actor known for their ability to play misfits and outcasts, inhabiting complex characters that require a nuanced performance. Miller told Movieline that "Afterschool" was an incredible education in filmmaking, because the performance needed to be so understated. Miller explained why they were interested in the role, saying, "There's a lot of work out there I was reading at 14 years old and noticing this lack of thought. And then, reading 'Afterschool,' that's full of thought. It was bursting with ideas."

They left high school at 16 after their film debut

After Ezra Miller's film debut, they dropped out of high school to pursue acting full-time. Although a desire to pursue their career was a motivating factor, Miller admitted school was never their favorite place, despite their innate curiosity. 

While speaking with Interview magazine, Miller expressed their interest in self-guided studies to attain knowledge and said that they found many subjects interesting. But they were frustrated with traditional school, saying, "It's not fascinating if a really boring person is droning it at you and you're sitting in a seat and you're not allowed to move, and if you don't do it there's some sort of consequence." Despite not liking school, Miller loves literature, telling Bosworth they hope to play Edgar Allan Poe someday because his writing opened their mind.

Miller told The Daily Beast that they felt like an outcast at the Hudson School, saying, "There was a feeling of being inherently ostracized because I was missing school" as a working actor. Miller's disinterest in traditional schooling, unease with the social aspect of high school, and avid interest in building a career as an actor led Miller away from school and toward work. They landed roles in television series such as "Californication" and "Royal Pains" while gaining recognition for their film roles in "City Island" and "Every Day," both of which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival to positive reviews (per Movieline).

Miller's breakthrough performance came in We Need to Talk about Kevin

Ezra Miller's next big role, opposite Tilda Swinton in "We Need to Talk About Kevin," proved Miller was developing serious acting chops and a reputation for pouring themselves into their roles. Miller told New York magazine that, in order to inhabit the mind of their character, they didn't speak to their mother for the entire shoot, because Miller believed their positive relationship would affect their performance. This decision suggests Miller has a penchant for Method acting.

Miller told New York, "In the moments where my mind could escape Kevin's, I had this growing, gathering appreciation for everything that my mother did right." Miller indicated that their relationship with their mother was far removed from the one depicted in the troubling drama, about a teenager who goes on a murderous rampage.

Miller told Interview that the film was a "meditation on what can really go wrong, and the way in which parenting, especially mothering, is a primordial wound [...] We see Kevin over the course of his life become more and more of a monster. And her resentment grows stronger until there's this explosion of rage and they're at war." Miller sat with their mother, Marta, during the premiere of "We Need to Talk About Kevin" at Cannes and she was, as Miller told New York, "audibly sobbing and shaking" while watching the chilling performance. This role opened up new opportunities for Miller.

In 2011, Miller was charged with drug possession in Pittsburgh

Although Ezra Miller would later become known for their appreciation of cannabis and their use of the substance during interviews, Miller had their first run-in with the legal system while filming "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" in Pittsburgh. Miller was a passenger in a car pulled over for a damaged tail light. The police found 20 grams of cannabis on Miller, who was arrested for drug possession (via the Post-Gazette). 

The case was dropped by what Miller called a "kindly magistrate" who fined Miller $600, gave them two citations for disorderly conduct and asked Miller to be cognizant of the influence they had on the extras they were filming with. Miller later told New York magazine during an interview in 2012, "I don't feel like there's any need to hide the fact that I smoke pot. It's a harmless herbal substance that increases sensory appreciation."

Miller got involved in activism in 2011

Ezra Miller began lending their voice to social and political causes by marching with Occupy Wall Street in 2011. They told local outlet Metro, "I, like the rest of my generation, have proceeded through the last decade of my life with hopelessness. Truly feeling the profit motivation of this society will inevitably lead to economic despair, environmental ruin and the loss of civil liberty."

In 2013, Greenpeace announced that Miller would join three youth ambassadors on an expedition to the Arctic, where they would plant a flag on the seabed to establish an environmental sanctuary at the North Pole. Miller underwent survival and physical training for the expedition and admitted, "Even after months of training I'm still pretty terrified about skiing across the frozen Arctic Ocean. But I feel really honored to have been asked to take part."

Miller joined his "Justice League" co-stars Jason Momoa and Ray Fisher in 2016 to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. Miller and Ray Fisher shared a video lending their support, with Miller explaining, "We want to say that our hearts are with the Native youth of the Standing Rock Reservation and that we oppose the Dakota Access Pipeline," while encouraging others to sign the petition on Change.org.

Ezra Miller enjoyed mainstream success with The Perks of Being a Wallflower

When Stephen Chbosky's beloved coming-of-age novel "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" was finally made into a movie, written and directed by the author himself, Miller took on the role of Patrick, the gay high school senior who is secretly sleeping with the closeted quarterback. In the film, Partick and his sister Sam (Emma Watson) befriend Charlie (Logan Lerman), a freshman struggling with depression. Within this band of misfits, Charlie finds joy and companionship and confronts repressed trauma from his childhood.

The critical response and box office reception for the coming-of-age film gave Miller a taste of mainstream fame. Miller was transcendent as Patrick, embracing the joy and confidence the character exudes, while also embodying the misery many teens feel. Miller told Out magazine that he read "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" when he was the same age as Charlie, after older friends recommended it, saying, "I read it and I found one of the best mythological maps for being a f***ed-up kid."

Miller told Out that they came across the script at a friend's house in Hollywood, saying, "I was furious that somebody, some idiot somewhere was trying to ruin a great piece of literature." When Miller discovered that Chbosky himself was behind the project, he said, "It was no longer Hollywood eating another thing we love," and was thrilled to be in the film based on a novel they had loved as a teen.

In 2012, Ezra Miller came out as queer

Miller came out as queer while promoting "The Perks of Being a Wallflower," telling Out magazine, "I'm queer. I have a lot of really wonderful friends who are of very different sexes and genders. I am very much in love with no one in particular." Miller's statement confused some in the media who were not savvy to Miller's terminology and didn't understand why Miller used the term queer rather than gay.

Miller clarified his stance to The Daily Beast, saying, "The way I would choose to identify myself wouldn't be gay. I've been attracted mostly to 'shes' but I've been with many people and I'm open to love wherever it can be found." Although Miller's choice to come out was embraced by the LGBTQIA+ community and was the beginning of Miller attaining the status of a queer icon, their decision to be honest about their sexuality was discouraged.

In a 2017 interview with The Short List, when asked who advised against honesty, Miller declined to get specific, saying he had heard from people both inside and outside the film business. "They said there's a reason so many gay, queer, gender-fluid people in Hollywood conceal their sexual identity, or their gender identity in their public image," he revealed. "I was told I had done a 'silly' thing ... thwarting my own potential to be a leading man." This advice proved untrue, and Miller's roles became even bigger in the next phase of their career.

Ezra Miller was cast as The Flash in 2014

In 2014, Variety announced that Ezra Miller had been cast as Barry Allen, aka The Flash, in Warner Bros. Pictures' DC Extended Universe, making them the first openly queer actor (via PopSugar) to star as a superhero. At the time of the announcement, the studio intended to release a standalone film starring Miller as The Flash in 2018, introducing the character in other DC films beforehand. The standalone movie's production and release were pushed back for various reasons, beginning with a script overhaul, a constant turnover in directors, and pandemic-related delays. Despite the setbacks, the film is finally slated to arrive in June 2023.

Miller's superhero first graced screens in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" in 2016 and made a cameo in "Suicide Squad" that same year. In 2017, the character took on a larger role in the troubled "Justice League," with his involvement expanded in the 2021 version, "Zack Snyder's Justice League." During this period, Miller also joined another massive Warner Bros. franchise when they landed the supporting role of Credence Barebone in the "Harry Potter" spin-off series, "Fantastic Beasts."

Miller's band dropped its first EP in 2015

Their debut EP, "Sons," dropped in 2015, but Ezra Miller has been associated with Sons of an Illustrious Father since 2009. According to Them, Miller had known band founder Lilah Larson since middle school, saying, "I always thought it was the coolest band even before I was in it." Josh Aubin joined the band as a temporary bassist, but became a permanent member of the trio, who call their music "genre queer." Larson elaborated, telling Them, "I think part of what defines us as a band is our determination to eschew definition."

While their music is overtly political, the band functions as a found family of sorts, supporting the members as they figure out who they are and how they fit into a world desperate to label them. Miller told New York magazine that the name of the band is from Plato's "Republic" and refers to "the inherent torment of being privileged or coming from an illustrious father in a time of gross economic disparity." Miller told Vulture that they make the music they needed when they were younger, saying, "I think part of our process sometimes feels like therapeutic time travel."

In 2018, Ezra Miller came out as nonbinary

Miller talked about their gender identity and sexuality with The Hollywood Reporter in 2018, at their 95-acre farm in Vermont. Coming out as nonbinary, they revealed, "I don't identify as a man. I don't identify as a woman. I barely identify as a human." After a gender-fluid photoshoot for Playboy, where Miller donned bunny ears, lingerie, fishnet stockings, and heels, Miller openly discussed their polyamorous lifestyle, coining the term "polycule" to describe their group of lovers. Miller told Playboy that they identify in sexuality and gender as queer, calling it "an umbrella of non-identification." Much like their band, Miller eschews categorization and the limitation of labels.

In 2019, Miller was chosen as a model for Urban Decay's "Pretty Different" campaign, telling Allure that they have a "strange perspective on beauty." Miller admitted that, because of their work in entertainment, "heavy makeup became associated with the magic of creation and performance for me." Miller's dramatic red carpet looks have certainly embraced the creative joy of makeup and fashion, which is something that started when Miller's older sisters put makeup on them as a child. Miller told Sleek magazine, "It was a very welcome and important part of my upbringing and understanding of my own gender expression."

Miller's future with the DC Universe is uncertain

Despite "The Flash" being on target to premiere in 2023, and getting high marks during test screenings (via THR), Ezra Miller's future with the DC Universe is uncertain. With James Gunn and Peter Safran taking the helm of DC, "Wonder Woman 3" got canceled, Black Adam was shown the door, and Henry Cavill's Superman has been retired. It's surprising that "The Flash" has survived the chopping block, but it is simply too expensive for Warner Bros. to scrap (per Variety), even with Miller's image problems.

Negative press has plagued Miller because of their erratic behavior and troubles with the law, beginning when production of "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore" was paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Miller went to Iceland, where they were caught on video assaulting a woman (via Variety). Miller was arrested in Hawaii later that month and then arrested for burglary in Vermont.

As reported by Vanity Fair, Miller has also been accused of allegedly grooming minors and starting a sex cult. They've had restraining orders taken out against them and threatened a Ku Klux Klan chapter on social media. Miller's volatile behavior, apparent paranoia, and obsession with guns have left many worried about the actor's mental health and safety. In August 2022, Miller issued a statement to Variety, saying they have been experiencing a mental health crisis and are seeking treatment, adding, "I want to apologize to everyone that I have alarmed and upset with my past behavior."

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.