As threats loom over the fate of the upcoming $200 million blockbuster that Ezra Miller is set to star in, Vanity Fair reveals disturbing new chapters in a rocky tale of bombastic preaching, guns, drugs, assault, and control. By Julie Miller, adapted by Hervé Loncan.
Last March, Ezra Miller was arrested in a bar in Hawaii after he insulted and spat in the face of a customer, and snatched the microphone from a woman who was singing Shallow from A Star Is Born at karaoke. That day the actor did not, to say the least, invoke her right to silence. The actor claims to have been attacked by a Nazi. On the body camera recording of one of the police officers, he can be heard getting angry and saying vaguely cryptic things about the NFTs. Confusion reigns.
Once outside, it's a sweaty, dishevelled Miller in a black jacket, burgundy trousers and red tie, barking at the police, demanding that they give their full identities and badge numbers. When one of them tries to search the actor's pockets, he or she says twice: "I am transgender and non-binary. I refuse to be searched by a man. After being called "Sir", the actor is furious: "This is an act of intentional intolerance and, technically, a hate crime." Ezra Miller then claims to be illegally persecuted for a crime without a name, says he has pre-existing nerve damage from the police handcuffs, goes back to the Nazi. "You should have told us, instead of running away," one of the policemen calmly replies. "We could have sorted this out very quickly. But you wanted to be clever."
A downward spiral
When the police empty the star's pockets, they find polystyrene darts from the Nerf toy brand, which they place in a plastic bag, and above all the only accessory that links the handcuffed person to his brilliant career (and incidentally to the 200 million dollars put on the table by Warner Bros): a ring stamped with the logo of the Flash, the DC Comics superhero character he plays on screen. Miller now seems to have come down. "This Flash ring is very important to me," he says calmly. "Its value is priceless."
This arrest marks just another episode in Miller's downward spiral over the past few years. A descent into hell so disturbing that even his old friends now find it difficult to follow him. For the past two years, he has been jeopardising his career and his safety – and, worse, probably that of others – in full view of everyone. Since 2020, he has been accused of crimes and abuses all over the world: he threw a chair at a woman, threatened a couple in their bedroom and stole their passports in Hawaii, tried to strangle two people in Iceland, and broke into his neighbour's house in Vermont to steal alcohol.
In June, two protection orders were issued against him. The first was issued by a North Dakota tribal court to protect 18-year-old Tokata Iron Eyes at the request of her parents, who accused the American of controlling the teenager, a non-binary Native American activist she met when she was only 12. The tribal court put in place a temporary order, but ultimately denied the request for a permanent order. The second order was sought by a Massachusetts mother, following incidents between February and June of this year. She claimed that Miller's interest in her own 12-year-old non-binary child was problematic. The star denies these allegations.
Lel allegedly presents himself alternately as Jesus or the Devil
More recently, the Vermont Department of Children and Families called the police to Miller's farm in Vermont. Lel was housing Ana, a 25-year-old woman, and her three young children. The young mother claims that Ezra rescued them from an abusive situation. But there have been reports that the star has stored a number of firearms in his home, making it unsuitable for children. "I had never seen so many guns in my life, the three kids were walking around in the middle of it all," a friend of Ana's who visited her in May told VF. "The smallest one even picked up a bullet and put it in her mouth. The order issued on 5 August requires that custody of the children be transferred to the state immediately. But when the police arrived, Ana and the children were gone. Their father has not spoken to them since April. A custody hearing was set for October in Hawaii.
Warner Bros chose not to comment on the antics of its star superhero and did not wish to answer our questions. However, a source said that the studio and Miller's agency, CAA, strongly suggested that he work with a crisis communications specialist. On 15 August, Ezra Miller finally admitted to an "acute crisis" and said in a statement: "I now understand that I have complex mental health issues and have begun treatment. I would like to apologise to all those who have been concerned and hurt by my behaviour. I am committed to doing what is necessary to return to a healthy and productive environment".
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Over the past six weeks, Vanity Fair has interviewed a dozen relatives and people who have crossed Miller's path in recent years. Most point to a combination of mental health problems, drugs, guns and an array of outlandish claims. Miller is said to verbally and emotionally abuse those around him, and to alternately present himself as Jesus or the Devil. He would regularly involve Flash in his delusional monologues. According to one source, Ezra Miller believes that the figure of the superhero, like that of Jesus, is the link between the different dimensions of the multiverse.
His outspokenness quickly earned him a reputation as a queer icon and a strong fanbase
It's a curious trajectory for someone who was discovered in 2011, when he was only 19, thanks to his impressive performance in We Need to Talk About Kevin alongside Tilda Swinton. The following year, he followed this up with his charismatic role in Charlie's World. Since then, the actor has alternated between independent films (The Stanford Prison Experiment) and big franchises (The Fantastic Beasts). The Flash, his biggest project to date, is scheduled for release in June 2023.
In interviews, Ezra Miller presents himself as an outsider, a provocateur who blurs the boundaries between genres. His outspokenness has quickly earned him a reputation as a queer icon with a strong fanbase.
Stephen Chbosky, writer and director of Charlie's World, who hasn't spoken to Ezra Miller in ten years, says of him: "I hope," he says, "that Ezra recaptures the light that came through so vividly when we were shooting together, because the kid I knew was really magical. I like to think that person is still there, and I hope he can find the help he needs.
"Ezra started to lose control from" his parents' divorce
Ezra Miller has never made a secret of his fragile mental health. In 2018 iel told The Hollywood Reporter, "Millennials are constantly bombarded with information. People think we're crazy and they're right." According to a source, these problems were compounded in 2020, as the pandemic put the world on pause. Miller finds himself with a lot of free time and partying hard. "The thing about Ezra," says the source, "is that he's unpredictable. It's total chaos. One day, just like that, he said to me, "We're going to Iceland".
In Reykjavik in April 2020, Ezra Miller is accused of trying to strangle someone, but this first incident is blamed on too much drink. When he reoffends, however, the incident is filmed and goes viral. He grabs a customer's neck in a bar and slams her to the ground. Miller then poses as a victim. "Those close to him believe that his parents' recent divorce may have contributed to his fragility. Ezra started to lose control from that point on," says a long-time friend. "After the incident in Iceland, it only got worse." Miller's spokesperson – like his parents – rejects this idea, citing instead "complex stress-related issues".
During his stay in Iceland, he spends his time at raves and parties for two or three days in a row. The actor is accompanied by Jasper Young Bear, a 55-year-old healer from North Dakota who was hired by the star as a spiritual advisor. Young Bear seems to have fuelled Miller's delusions, telling him that he was "the new Messiah and that the Masons had sent demons to kill him", says a source who, like other people close to him, sometimes worships him. In private, he or she would be less careful on the subject. In an interview for the British edition of GQ magazine published the same month as the Icelandic episode, Ezra Miller says: "I'm here for service, to do what I can for everyone I can do it for". According to the journalist, the interview quickly turned into a logorrhea of delirious preaching.
According to someone close to him, Ezra has become increasingly narcissistic, surrounding himself with young, more gullible and manipulable people, making all sorts of crazy promises – and never keeping them – and raving about the metaverse, medicine and his role as Messiah.
Archery, hiking, joints and Call of Duty
Since 2017, Ezra Miller has lived on a farm in Vermont called "The Mountain". Surrounded by a dense forest, the property was once an alpaca and llama farm. There are orchards, three barns and a small blue-roofed house. Goats roam around the estate. The house is a mess, with friends, archery and hiking. Miller spends his days smoking pot and his nights playing Call of Duty. Before Iceland, he is pleasant and generous: weed, money, plane tickets… But to stay there, you have to obey his rules and endure his endless monologues. The house even contains an altar made of ammunition, marijuana, sage and Flash figures, in front of which the women, in particular, must make offerings.
Among the residents is the young Tokata Iron Eyes. According to Miller, they are destined to be together. A friend sums it up: "Ezra is Jesus and Tokata is the Native American spider goddess of the apocalypse. Their union is supposed to bring about the apocalypse, and that would be the 'real' reason for trying to keep them apart." The actor-rice has no Native American ancestry. According to a Native American relative: "He claims to walk through this world with the humility and spiritual awareness of Native Americans, but that's a load of crap. In fact, he doesn't care."
In 2018, Miller came out as non-binary and polyamorous. In Playboy, he describes the free-love environment he has created around himself with a word for it, 'polyculus', a contraction of polyamory and molecule. According to three people around him, the polyculus is nonetheless a fluctuating "harem" of mainly young women. I have nothing against polyamory," says a relative, "but this is more like a patriarchal dictatorship where Ezra controls everything, pits women against each other, yells at them and humiliates them.
According to some, like Tokata's mother, Ezra Miller uses his sexual identity as a weapon. "If you cross him, you're immediately labelled a transphobe or transphobic Nazi," she says. "We're just trying to protect our daughter." A queer acquaintance goes further: "To me, it's clearly manipulation (…) Just a fun way to marginalise yourself so you can be even more obnoxious to others." For Miller's spokesperson, these comments are "completely false", he reminds us that the actor "defends civil rights, gender equality, encourages speech and exchange". Using her identity as a lever "is the opposite of who she is".
"They had a flamethrower and all these huge AK-47s lying around"
His fondness for firearms is another source of concern. Again, relatives report disturbing scenes. One friend recalls Ezra Miller once greeting him with an assault rifle in his hand. Another recalls seeing him burning sage in the barrel of an AR-15 before waving it around while singing. By the end of 2021, Ezra would have embarked on a road trip with a small entourage, equipped with weapons and Kevlar waistcoats.
In January, another incident occurred. In a video posted on Instagram, Miller attacked a Ku Klux Klan cell in North Carolina: "Look, if you all want to die, I suggest you kill yourselves with your own guns, OK? Otherwise, keep doing exactly what you're doing right now – you know what I'm talking about – and then, if that's what you really want, we'll do it for you." Following this episode, the other occupants of the farmhouse lock up all the weapons in a safe place. "They had a flamethrower and all these huge AK-47s lying around," says one. "There were weapons literally everywhere.
When Ezra Miller went to Hawaii last spring, the actor-rice no longer looked like the glamorous, cheekbone-topped icon who, not so long ago, was still showing off his daring looks on the Met Gala red carpet. Emaciated and dishevelled, he now eats nothing but rum-cut energy drinks, gas station candy bars and "drugs" – a euphemism for whatever kind of drug he can get his hands on that day – although his spokesperson insists, "It's not a drug problem, it's a mental health problem.
Miller uses "violence, intimidation, threats, fear, paranoia, delusions and drugs to exert his control".
On this trip, Ezra Miller was accompanied by Tokata Iron Eyes. The two met at a protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016. In Hawaii, the star repeatedly claims to be acting as Tokata's legal guardian. Yet witnesses say they have seen the teenager left to fend for herself with no phone, no money, no underwear or socks, and even no shelter. The pair live as vagabonds, sleeping some nights in a tent pitched on top of a volcano. "At first I thought it was for Tokata's own good, because he was unstable," says one witness. The witness changed his mind when Tokata's parents applied for a protection order, claiming that Miller used "violence, intimidation, threats, fear, paranoia, delusions and drugs to gain control over a young teenager. Tokata told Insider that his parents have conducted "a despicable and irresponsible smear campaign against Miller".
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Hollywood star and teenage activist. To the people who question them, Ezra Miller gives a credible version of events. "The story I heard was that [Tokata] was running away from a family environment that didn't tolerate his sexuality or gender identity," says a long-time friend. This is the kind of story that happens a lot in 2022 and I believed it. The teenager's mother refutes this: "We just want Tokata to be independent, safe and happy. We don't want a man or a 30-year-old to manipulate her and/or take advantage of her".
The situation for the Iron Eyes family is not simple. The father, Chase Iron Eyes, was convicted of burglary and three other offences in 2003. He has since reinvented himself as a political leader and his interest in his child's activism is said by some to be not entirely selfless. In 2019, Tokata rallied thousands at the Women's March and global climate protests. In December 2021, he was interviewed by Angelina Jolie for Seventeen magazine as one of the personalities of the year.
He acted like a good man or a man of God
At the end of March, Ezra Miller and Tokata met a polygamous family in Hawaii based on the east side of the island. The actor tells them that he wants to leave Hollywood and open a small shop on the island. He also says that he has a partner who needs his help, and that the couple is having accommodation problems. For the father of this family, the subject of a domestic violence complaint who prefers to remain anonymous: "He was acting like a good man or a man of God, and he was helping this woman.
The father invites the couple to stay on his property with his four "wives" – including Ana – and their four young children. The situation soon takes a strange turn. Miller returns one day with arms full of toys for the children, claiming to have had an altercation with the police, claiming to be a victim of injustice. ("He bought Nerf guns for our kids and gave them great speeches about guns," says one of the wives, Kaelyn.) The actor-rice recruits women to help him cut down guava trees in the garden and build a sweat lodge. One day, while walking through a shopping mall with the polygamous patriarch, Miller spontaneously gives him a gold lion ring encrusted with diamonds and rubies worth $2000. Miller suggests that their families merge: "Like, 'We should be partners forever. I want to take you everywhere with us. I didn't refuse. I knew his condition."
According to Kaelyn, Ezra told them about the trauma he experienced in Hollywood, and the family is keen to help him. About two weeks after their arrival, Miller and Tokata suddenly disappeared. They reportedly took Ana, one of the women, 25, and her three children with them.
"Ezra's lack of interest clearly upset a disappointed fan," her lawyer said.
"Are you okay or what?" Ana does an Instagram Live from the 'Mountain'. Since joining Miller, she has been under attack on social media, and wants to give her side of the story. "Ezra fucking saved my life," she says. To pay her bills, she was stripping and had even opened an OnlyFans account. She didn't even have enough money to buy nappies for her baby, she says. "And now you want to make Ezra look like a cult leader…" She is then interrupted by a small voice: "Mom?"
Ezra Miller's various legal problems have recently all but disappeared, for reasons that must be a combination of luck and good advocacy on the part of his lawyers. Vanity Fair has seen one non-disclosure agreement and heard of a handful of others in what three sources describe as a legal strategy to pay off alleged victims. No charges were brought in Iceland. In Hawaii, Miller paid a $500 fine after the karaoke arrest as part of a deal where other charges were dropped. Other complaints in Hawaii that Miller threw a chair at a woman and broke into a couple's home, shouting obscenities and stealing a passport and other legal documents were later dropped.
Among the cases that remain open is one in which Miller is accused of breaking into a neighbour's house to steal alcohol: he is due to appear in Vermont court on 26 September. There is also the Massachusetts restraining order on the 12-year-old non-binary child, which will run until June 2023, according to a source close to the situation. The actor's representative rejects the allegation, saying, "Ezra's lack of interest clearly upset a disappointed fan." The local police department also confirmed an ongoing case involving Miller and the 12-year-old girl, based on three interactions between them in April, May and June of this year. However, he has not been charged with anything involving Ana's children. Despite his concern, Ana's husband, the polygamist, still believes in the integrity of his bond with Miller and still wears the gold ring the actor-rice gave him.
"Knowing that The Flash was in the hot seat was a wake-up call"
Online, especially on Twitter, Miller's fans are coming to his defence, lashing out at anyone who questions him. In early August, the CEO of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav told investors that he remained optimistic about The Flash and that the film would be released as planned in 2023. The Hollywood Reporter reported, however, that Warner Bros. had hinted at shelving the project. Four days later, Miller released a contrite statement about his "complex mental health issues".
"Knowing that The Flash was on the chopping block was a wake-up call," says the actor's representative. Miller and his agent CAA even went to the studio's headquarters in Burbank, California, to apologise in person for the bad publicity and express their renewed commitment. Iel is now reportedly working with The Flash producers to shoot additional scenes.
Some people close to Miller said he was not taking his treatment seriously and was pretending to believe it. But his spokesperson takes exception to these rumours and insists that the opposite is true. Many now want to believe him.