Fantastic Beasts Star Ezra Miller: ‘Harry Potter Helped Me Cope with Homophobia’

Last Friday saw the release of the latest installment in the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and in the film, 24-year-old queer actor Ezra Miller shines as Credence Barebone, son of the leader of the New Salem Philanthropic Society, a “No-Maj” anti-witchcraft group. The film itself has been referred to by some as a thinly veiled metaphor for LGBT rights by J.K. Rowling, but even more interestingly, Miller has revealed that as a bullied teen, he would often come home from school and listen to the Harry Potter audio books.

According to Miller, his “strange interests” and speech impediment often distanced him from his peers.

“I was an easy target,” he says.

“When I started going through puberty and having confusing feelings about wanting to kiss people —not all of them being girls,” he says, “there were moments in my life where I felt ostracized from my contemporaries or my peers. … Those times were very painful but also very formative because they prompt us to step outside of society and to look at the world with fresh eyes, which is why I think so many of our great minds have been ostracized folks and disenfranchised people.”

Fantastic Beasts—starring Eddie Redmayne, Katherine Waterston and Colin Farrell—also introduces the concept of the “obscurial” into Harry Potter lore. According to the film (and this is no spoiler), it’s the concept of a young wizard or witch who develops a magical force called an Obscurus: a parasite that results from the young person’s magic being suppressed through physical or psychological means—basically, by a fear of persecution for being different—which lashes out with great power. In the real world, it’s a concept not all that different from what we’d call “closet cases.”

J.K. Rowling is reportedly already set to pen four sequels in this new Fantastic Beasts franchise.