Ezra Miller presents a $20m issue for Warner Bros. That’s the budget for The Flash, which stars Miller as a spandex-clad superhero. Set for release next summer, it’s DC comics’ big roll of the dice against Disney’s world-conquering Marvel movies, such as The Avengers series and Spider-Man. There’s just one problem, their lead actor has been involved in a string of controversies, from hosting a woman and her children on a Vermont farm where reports have said guns are lying around, to two recent arrests in Hawaii.
The first, on 27 March, came at a dive bar when, according to police, Miller yanked a microphone from a woman singing karaoke. Police got involved when an irate Miller then yelled obscenities and allegedly lunged at a man playing darts. The second came a month later, when Miller was asked to leave a gathering and threw a chair, hitting a woman and leaving her with a half-inch gash on her forehead, police said. A couple then filed a restraining order against the actor later that night after Miller allegedly burst into their bedroom and threatened to “bury” them. In just three weeks, Miller was the subject of 10 police calls in the sleepy town of Hilo, Hawaii.
Not long ago Miller was the darling of indie cinema thanks to roles in Afterschool and We Need to Talk About Kevin, before scoring franchise superstardom in the JK Rowling-penned Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them as well as in the DC universe. They were also positioned as a champion of the LGBT+ community, coming out as queer in 2012 and non-binary in 2018, stating: “I don’t identify as a man, I don’t identify as a woman. I barely identify as a human.” The Flash was all set to make Miller the first queer actor to lead a superhero movie, but all that is now in jeopardy. According to Deadline, Warner Bros has tried to “get help” for Miller, but at this stage it seems unlikely that they will be kept on for future projects. This is, after all, the same studio that dropped Johnny Depp after his unsuccessful UK lawsuit against The Sun.
Ezra Miller was born to a wealthy family in New Jersey in 1992; Miller’s father was a successful publisher and their mother a dancer. To overcome a childhood stutter, Miller began singing opera, debuting in the New York premiere of Philip Glass’s White Raven at the Lincoln Center in 2001. Yet Miller was also subject to homophobic bullying in high school. “I was trying to kiss boys in school,” Miller told Out in 2012. “I went from having a stutter to being a totally gay little opera singer to being, like, a really confused queer adolescent.”
Miller dropped out of high school aged 16, not because of the bullying, but because of Beethoven. The actor told New York Magazine that the composer came to them in a dream: “He was crying, and he said, ‘The four symphonies I’ve written are no good. They’re just, like, not enough.’ And I was like, ‘You write five more! Keep going!’ And I woke up in a cold sweat and I was like, ‘I need to drop out of school.’”
It wasn’t a total leap of faith. Miller had already appeared in a number of TV shorts and in 2008 made their first big screen appearance in Antonio Campos’ dark, directorial debut Afterschool. It fed neatly into his role in Euphoria creator Sam Levinson’s first film, Another Happy Day in 2011, in which Miller played Ellen Barkin’s arrogant teenage son. Miller turned up late to meet Levinson when he was casting the movie, and demanded to sit outside so he could smoke. “I thought, ‘What a f***ing prick! He’s perfect for this film!’” said the director.
Miller found their niche as an off-beat, loquacious teen, earning rave reviews for their performance in the titular role of 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, based on Lionel Shriver’s novel about a child on a quest to destroy their mother. They next landed a spot in the popular adaptation of The Perks of Being a Wallflower alongside Emma Watson. It was then that Miller began finding themselves in the news for the wrong reasons. While filming …Perks, the actor was detained by police after being pulled over for a broken taillight where he was found, in Miller’s own words, under a “quilt” of weed.
Mainstream fame arrived in 2016 when Miller landed the roles of Credence in Fantastic Beasts… and The Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Odd videos of the actor then began to surface. One day Miller was giving an emotional, slightly manic rendition of “Work” by Rihanna on a hotel lobby piano, the next an indecipherable red carpet interview while dressed as Toadette from Mario Kart. At a 2017 Comic-Con event they spontaneously kissed a fan on the mouth after the fan asked to smell Miller’s breath for alcohol.
It was confusing, but not overly concerning. That was until 2020, when a video surfaced on Twitter that appeared to show Miller choking a woman in a bar in Reykjavik. “I think it’s just fun and games — but then it wasn’t,” the woman, who remained anonymous, recently told Variety after keeping silent for two years. No charges were ever brought against the actor. Miller never publicly commented on the incident.
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Then, at the beginning of this year, Miller went on a social media rant aimed at what they called the “Beulaville chapter” of the Ku Klux Klan in North Carolina, telling them to “kill themselves”. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organisation that monitors hate groups, said that it wasn’t aware of any Klan activity in the area. Then came the Hawaii incidents.
More accusations have since been levelled against Miller, the most serious of which has come from the parents of an 18-year-old from North Dakota. They accuse Miller of grooming and “psychologically manipulating, physically intimidating and endangering the safety and welfare” of their child, Tokata Iron Eyes, going back to when Iron Eyes was 12. In an interview with The Independent, their father Chase Iron Eyes said: “Our life was turned upside down,” alleging that Miller supplied the teen with alcohol, marijuana and LSD during their friendship. “When we picked Tokata up from Ezra’s farm, we were not sure that she would ever be able to function, psychologically, mentally, or intellectually at the level she had exhibited before coming into Ezra’s clutches,” he said. A court has since been “unable to locate” Miller to serve them with a protective order against Tokata. The actor’s Instagram account has also been deactivated. The Independent has reached out to the court to enquire whether it has since been able to serve the actor. Iron Eyes has, however, denied the allegations against Miller, saying: “This is my life. These are my decisions, and I’m disappointed in my parents and the press in every way.”
Since then, another mother and her 12-year-old child have been granted a temporary harassment prevention order against Miller after alleging that the actor menaced their family in their neighbour’s home and acted inappropriately towards the child.
In a 30 June report in Variety, a German woman also alleged that Miller had harassed her after refusing to leave her apartment in Berlin in February 2022. She claims Miller became irate after she told them they couldn’t smoke in her home; the actor was convinced to leave only after she called the police. A week earlier (23 June), a report in Rolling Stone alleged that Miller’s Vermont farm, where he has been hosting another mother and her three children, has “guns and bullets lying around”. One source recalled an incident when one of the children – aged one – allegedly put a stray bullet in her mouth.
A source close to Miller told Variety that the star hopes to address the allegations against them at some point, but they have “chosen to privately focus on their health and healing” first. They’re next set to star as a young Salvador Dali in Mary Harron’s biopic Dalíland. The film is currently in post-production but who knows what will become of Miller’s part if more allegations arise. Kevin Spacey has shown that actors can be recast and scenes can be reshot. Some DC fans have already called on the studio to replace Miller with Grant Gustin, who plays The Flash on the accompanying CW show. “There is no winning in this for Warner Bros,” one studio source told Deadline recently. For Miller, too, there could be no coming back from such a long list of indiscretions.
The Independent has reached out to representatives of Ezra Miller for comment.