Miller slid into the 2023 superhero movie slate with little fuss, even though the last few years have been rife with allegations of misconduct. Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics
If you have experienced sexual abuse, call the free, confidential National Sexual Assault hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673), or access the 24-7 help online by visiting online.rainn.org(opens in a new tab).
Actor Ezra Miller became a beloved indie standout early on in their career, a potential LGBTQ+ Hollywood icon who offered representation as a nonbinary star, known for uniquely couture red carpet looks(opens in a new tab) and quirky Comic Con appearances(opens in a new tab). But for all the applause they received in playing the outsider role to its fullest, both in film and in interviews with GQ(opens in a new tab) and Playboy(opens in a new tab), few knew what was to come, including a slew of disturbing, not-so-behind-the-scenes accusations.
Despite their newly shadowed reputation, Miller’s place in Hollywood seems surprisingly solid, as they’re set to headline DC’s summer 2023 tentpole The Flash. The film’s early acclaim(opens in a new tab) and a lack of public reckoning for Miller — despite the accusations — mirror a continued Hollywood cycle of inequitable repercussions for accused abusers and highlight the sheer power of corporate franchises that rake in money for studios.
What’s Ezra Miller’s reputation as an actor?
Credit: Mike Marsland / Mike Marsland / WireImage
The 30-year-old actor rose to fame in the 2010s, through acclaimed films like the Tilda Swinton-led thriller We Need to Talk About Kevin and the coming-of-age drama The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and later breaking into the franchise world via the Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Miller reprised their role through all the sequels, with the last, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, premiering in 2022.
Weaving through the buzz of these roles was DC’s big Flash moment, for which Miller was tapped for the titular role as early as 2014, when the standalone movie was first announced.(opens in a new tab) They made the leap to superhero stardom in 2016, after officially appearing as The Flash in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Reprisals followed in Suicide Squad, as well as Justice League, Zack Snyder’s Justice League, and The CW’s Arrow. The Flash movie was slated for a 2018 release but has experienced numerous delays(opens in a new tab) (none related to Miller).
While responses to the film’s trailers had been mixed, an early screening of The Flash(opens in a new tab) at April’s CinemaCon seemed to wow(opens in a new tab) exhibitors, insiders, and some journalists in attendance.
What are the allegations against Ezra Miller?
Just as their career was entering its blockbuster era, Miller’s public behavior became increasingly concerning. While on a trip to Reykjavík, Iceland, in April 2020, during a COVID-19-mandated break in filming for Dumbledore, Miller was caught on tape allegedly choking(opens in a new tab) a woman and throwing her to the ground outside of a bar. (A local bartender at Prikið Kaffihús told Variety(opens in a new tab) this was the second incident they’d been a witness to involving Miller.) Despite the video, which quickly made rounds in tabloids and online, the actor’s fans came to their defense, saying Miller was provoked by an overly eager crowd.
In February 2022, Miller reportedly intimidated and verbally harassed a woman(opens in a new tab) they were meeting with in Berlin, Germany. The woman later filed a criminal complaint against the actor, who was investigated for trespassing. (The investigation was eventually “discontinued” since Miller had left Germany.)
In March 2022, Miller was arrested for disorderly conduct and harassment(opens in a new tab) at a karaoke bar in Hawaii, cited as yelling obscenities, grabbing a microphone from a woman, and lunging at another bar patron. The news was the first in a series of reported “tirades” around the island that included throwing a chair at a woman(opens in a new tab) less than a month after the bar incident, according to police. The actor was arrested for second-degree assault.
In June 2022, the Los Angeles Times(opens in a new tab) reported that the parents of 18-year-old Sioux teen Gibson Iron Eyes had obtained a protective order against Miller, accusing them of “psychologically manipulating, physically intimidating and endangering the safety and welfare of” their child, who had reportedly run away with the actor. The two had met when the teen was 12 years old, during protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline. In August 2022, Iron Eyes told Insider via text message that their parents’ claims were unfounded(opens in a new tab) and that they were never abused.
In June 2022, Rolling Stone(opens in a new tab) reported that Miller was “hosting” a 25-year-old mother and her three children at their Vermont property. The father of the three children and two anonymous sources close to the situation reportedly were concerned for their well-being, alleging that the actor’s home was strewn with weapons and drugs. Rolling Stone also revealed that some of the farm’s land was being used to grow cannabis without a license.
A June 2022 story from the Daily Beast(opens in a new tab) chronicled Miller’s interactions with a 12-year-old child in Massachusetts, whose mother alleged was being inappropriately targeted by the actor. The family also claimed Miller harassed them and taunted them with a gun. The child and mother were granted an order of protection.
In August 2022, Miller was arrested and charged with felony burglary(opens in a new tab) in Vermont after allegedly entering private property and stealing several bottles of liquor. Miller pleaded guilty to a trespassing charge(opens in a new tab) as part of a deal reducing their sentencing from a potential 25 years in prison to one year of probation and a fine.
An August 2022 investigative report by Insider(opens in a new tab) alleged that Miller had been running a kind of cult during their time in Iceland(opens in a new tab), inviting young people to live with them in various places, including an Airbnb and a hotel in Iceland and their farm in Vermont, and psychologically abusing them.
A recent timeline of Miller’s career, published by Vulture(opens in a new tab), outlines a decade of increasingly bizarre behavior on the red carpet and online, including reported emotional abuse of their former fiancée and threatening to kill Ku Klux Klan members(opens in a new tab). Multiple acquaintances of Miller have told other publications(opens in a new tab) that reports of them exhibiting verbally and emotionally abusive behavior and making eccentric claims were in line with the actor’s past actions.
What’s happening with Ezra Miller’s career?
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics
In response to the online fervor following the many exposés and Vermont arrest, Miller released their first public statement(opens in a new tab) in August 2022, writing:
“Having recently gone through a time of intense crisis, I now understand that I am suffering complex mental health issues and have begun ongoing treatment. I want to apologize to everyone that I have alarmed and upset with my past behavior.”
In 2023, at an early press screening of The Flash, the film’s director Andy Muschietti addressed Miller’s erratic behavior(opens in a new tab). “Ezra is well now. We’re all hoping that they get better,” Muschietti said, explaining that as they’ve kept in touch with the actor it seems they are committed to their recovery.
Miller also made a public appearance at the June 12 red carpet premiere(opens in a new tab) of The Flash, speaking briefly about Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, Warner Bros. Film Group heads Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy, and DC Studios stewards James Gunn and Peter Safran with acknowledgement of their “grace and discernment and care in the context of my life. And in bringing this moment to fruition.”
It is noteworthy to see industry leaders supporting talent through mental health struggles. However, many onlookers have expressed shock that Miller hasn’t faced greater consequences — legal or professional — for the alleged misconduct. Given the actor was arrested three times in a single year, pleaded guilty to a criminal offense(opens in a new tab), and still faces multiple accusations of abuse, it would seem like Miller presents more of a liability than an asset to studios investing in franchises built out years in advance.
Around the time of Miller’s statement, the Hollywood Reporter reported that Warner Bros. and DC executives had met with Miller(opens in a new tab) about the reported crimes and their mental health recovery. This allegedly followed an internal conversation about scrapping the film entirely if the “behavior” continued — a move that the studio hasn’t shied away from with other, less controversial projects. However, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly from May 2023(opens in a new tab), Flash producer Barbara Muschietti said there had never been legitimate consideration of the movie being canceled: “Not at all. No. That was never real.”
Calls from the public for The Flash’s recasting, with some clamoring for the return of TV Flash Grant Gustin(opens in a new tab), didn’t convince the studio to replace Miller, which would require massive reshoots for the already $200 million project. Such a recast was famously done with Sony’s 2017’s All the Money in the World. Following allegations of sexual assault against star Kevin Spacey less than two months before the film’s release, a reported $10 million decision was made to replace Spacey(opens in a new tab) with Christopher Plummer in reshoots. In 2020, Zack Snyder replaced Chris D’Elia(opens in a new tab) with Tig Notaro in Army of the Dead via tricksy digital editing and greenscreen, after the stand-up comic was the subject of sexual misconduct allegations(opens in a new tab). A move like this would be much more costly and complicated to replicate here, unfortunately for everyone involved.
However, staying the course with Miller raises challenging questions on ethics, money, and industry logistics that neither the commercial success nor failure of The Flash would answer with certainty.
For now, the franchise movie machine continues to flex its Hollywood might(opens in a new tab). The Flash is coming, and early reactions(opens in a new tab) suggest it might be Warner Bros’s best bet at gaining back fan favor and superhero relevance, following disappointments like Black Adam(opens in a new tab) and Shazam! Fury of the Gods(opens in a new tab). Muschietti hasn’t written off the potential for a sequel(opens in a new tab), either. At the film’s June premiere, Miller applauded the director, saying, “I love you, maestro. I think you’re amazing, and I think your work is monumental.” The pause button hasn’t been hit on Miller’s career just yet.
However, at present, Miller has no new projects slated for production(opens in a new tab), and only one other film — the indie Dalíland — coming up(opens in a new tab). Could The Flash be the last hoorah for Miller’s career? Is the court of public opinion enough to decide — and should box office success be seen as audiences condoning Miller’s alleged behavior? Does a certain level of talent, fame, or intrigue offer shelter from professional repercussions for personal behavior?
As the debate continues, Miller’s career in Hollywood remains in limbo, their legacy tarnished but not yet cemented.
If you’re feeling suicidal or experiencing a mental health crisis, please talk to somebody. You can reach the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988; the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860; or the Trevor Project at 866-488-7386. Text “START” to Crisis Text Line at 741-741. Contact the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI, Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. ET, or email [email protected](opens in a new tab). If you don’t like the phone, consider using the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Chat at crisischat.org(opens in a new tab). Here is a list of international resources(opens in a new tab).
Additional reporting by Jenni Miller.
UPDATE: Jun. 14, 2023, 12:00 p.m. EDT Originally published in May 2023, this story was updated in June 2023 with comment from Barbara Muschietti, a producer on “The Flash,” as reported by Entertainment Weekly. It was updated again to include comment from Miller at the June 12 premiere of “The Flash.”
Chase joined Mashable’s Social Good team in 2020, covering online stories about digital activism, climate justice, accessibility, and media representation. Her work also touches on how these conversations manifest in politics, popular culture, and fandom. Sometimes she’s very funny.