On Wednesday 15th, The Knockturnal got a chance to talk to talented actor Ezra Miller about his role as Daniel Culp at the premiere of the great film “The Stanford Prison Experiment.”
Ezra Miller is an incredible actor, whom you may probably know from The Perks of Being a Wallflower amongst many other roles. Once again Ezra managed to blow us away with his performance in the indie movie The Stanford Prison Experiment, in which he played Daniel Cup, a jail prisoner. This film is based on “The Stanford Prison Experiment,” which took place in 1971. During this experiment, led by psychologist Dr. Philip Zimbardo, 24 males of the same age were selected at random to play either the role of a prison guard, or a prisoner. Read what Ezra told us exclusively below:
When did you hear about this film and how did you get involve in it?
I guess I heard about it about a year or so before we made it. I was reached out to and sent the script with no clear idea of whom the character might be. Often when we receive a script as actors, we are given a role to read for. In this case, I was just sent the script and told to read and consider all of the roles, because essentially you have these 24 characters who are men my age and ethnicity. I read for a bunch of different characters, but immediately I thought the dynamic of my character was fascinating. He is a person who is resisting authority but feeding authority and kind of craving authority. He is someone who can’t deal with powerlessness, so engages in a struggle for power, and ultimately reinforces the hierarchy that is against him.
How did you proceed to create your character?
There is so much footage, so much video footage, so much audio footage of the actual experiment. We were also all given a great deal of creative license by Kyle. So drawing on both the material from the experiment but also trying to draw on material that this character might have been drawing on at the same time: reading Huey P. Newton and Malcolm X, and a lot of this stuff that this character is appropriating in a way, that I think, as a white kid in 1971 in California, he has no right to be doing. Going into that and trying to think about those writings through the mind frame of someone who thinks it’s okay to appropriate it; who is fighting this power structure of prison guard vs. prisoner but at the same time is saying the word ‘fag’ and upholding a different power structure that results in violence.
What were some of the struggles, if any, that you encountered while approaching your character?
I’ll tell you, no struggles! It was fun. It was great. What was amazing is that we had this unbelievably fertile creative atmosphere. There was an electricity that we were all feeding as an ensemble, that we could all draw from like a cloud.
Did you feel the characters influenced the actor’s abuse of authority while the camera was rolling?
I think that while the camera was rolling, we were fully engaged, and fully in it, so they could do whatever they wanted and we would have to go along with it. Nicholas and I made each other bleed, multiple times! There was a lot of serious fighting when the camera was rolling, but what was great was that when they called cut, we were all hanging. It was really sweet and wonderful times.
Psychology Today hosted a fascinating panel after the screening and a party follow at No. 8. Be on the look out for Ezra’s many upcoming projects. He also has a funny role in Trainwreck and the word “Pineapple” may have new meaning for you after watching that flick.