When stepping foot into the Wizarding World of Harry Potter with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, actor Ezra Miller was entering a very different realm of filmmaking—one miles separated from coming-of-age darlings like The Perks of Being a Wallflower and raunchy adult comedies, such as Trainwreck. Yet, the up-and-coming performer did have at least some clue of what to expect from working with David Yates and J.K. Rowling, after all his Wallflower co-star Emma Watson did so for years!
Indeed, that connection was a gift that Miller cited when we sat down for a roundtable interview at the Fantastic Beasts junket earlier this week. While discussing the unexpected calmness and intimacy with which Yates instills in all of his sets, Miller recounted how Ms. Watson told him to prepare for just such an experience.
“I didn’t really believe it when I first met him,” Miller said of Yates’ reputation. “I was like, ‘Wow, this guy is extraordinarily chill. I wonder if that remains the case when the going gets tough on a major motion picture production?’ And I actually asked Emma Watson… she was one of the first people I called when this happened, and I asked, ‘Does he really remain so Zen through the process of making a film?’ And she said, ‘It’s hard to believe, but yes.’ She said, ‘I’ve never heard his voice go above a certain number of decibels.’ Because he really is. He is really disciplined and centered, and that’s a huge gift to an actor, especially one in some vulnerable situation of doing sensitive work with challenging material.”
Explaining what the process of working with Yates is like, Miller also said, “I think it starts with his heart, and the way he endeavors to be a kind and empathic person on the planet. And then, I think it goes further into his mastery as a filmmaker, and his uncanny ability to meet an actor’s needs. He has a really amazing understanding of an actor’s process, and he’s very patient and he’s very gentle, but at the same time, he’s very demanding and very firm. And if you talked to some of the top-tier actors who’ve worked with David Yates, they’ll say, ‘Wow, I did not expect him to really drill me like that for a performance. You know, I went in there expecting to dial it in, and he demands the best and the most authentic performance possible.’”
Audiences will see just such performances when Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them opens on Nov. 18.