Even though it isn’t on the Warner Bros release calendar until June 23, 2023, The Flash is becoming Warner Bros Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s first movie crisis, because of the escalating coverage of incidents of volatile and odd behavior involving the film’s star, Ezra Miller.
Zaslav has made clear his desire to grow the DC Universe to MCU scale and has all the ingredients of a first foot forward in The Flash, including the return of Michael Keaton as Batman along with a reprise by Ben Affleck, a $200 million budget and a hot director in Andy Muschietti, who delivered the blockbuster It for the studio. The Warner Bros Discovery CEO exercised his well known penchant for micro-management by declining to greenlight Wonder Twins for being too niche. Zaslav will have to soon make a decision of what to do with the completed picture that is The Flash, and what to do with a young actor who appears to have serious off-set issues.
Deadline has heard the studio has tried getting help for Miller, but the troubling headlines continue to pile up. Could you send a potential liability on a global publicity tour and have the actor anchor a huge studio franchise play?
Zaslav has several choices and he will make one of them soon. Among them: He can pull back on heavily promoting the summer 2023 film, confining it to some P&A and no publicity tour. Or he can relegate it to streaming with HBO Max and take a write-down. Or lean in toward making the movie a hit and then drop Miller if they can’t straighten things out. Warner Bros did that when it dropped Johnny Depp from the Grindelwald character in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, after the actor’s well-publicized, unsuccessful UK lawsuit; the studio replaced Depp with Mads Mikkelsen.
“There is no winning in this for Warner Bros,” one studio source tells us. “This is an inherited problem for Zaslav. The hope is that the scandal will remain at a low level before the movie is released, and hope for the best to turn out.”
Sources said even if no more allegations surface, the studio won’t likely keep Miller in the Flash role in future DC films. That would mean replacing him in the future, but there is still a $200 million investment on the line with the first film and Warner Bros execs have to be cringing at each new press report.
There have been two more rounds of unflattering headlines just in the last two weeks for the 29-year old Miller, who identifies as nonbinary. The Daily Beast reported that there was a temporary harassment prevention order this week from a 12-year old and a mother in Greenfield, MA against the actor after Miller allegedly menaced the family and acted inappropriately toward the nonbinary child.
Last week, the parents of an 18-year-old named Tokata Iron Eyes filed paperwork asking a judge to issue an order of protection against the actor on behalf of their child, saying Miller groomed and brainwashed Tokata.
“Ezra uses violence, intimidation, threat of violence, fear, paranoia, delusions, and drugs to hold sway over a young adolescent Tokata,” read the filing, which was obtained by multiple outlets.
The 18-year-old’s parents allege the two met at Standing Rock Reservation in North Dakota when their child was just 12. The parents allege Miller gave Tokata alcohol and drugs, flew the child to London and to places such as Vermont, New York, California and Hawaii. This past week Miller deleted his Instagram account in the face of the North Dakota tribal summons; the actor allegedly mocking authorities about their whereabouts.
Tokata posted a video on Instagram defending Miller.
“It’s nobody’s business and nobody is owed a story or outcome,” Tokata said in the two-minute video. “This is my life and these are my decision and I’m disappointed in my parents and the press — in every way.”
Prior to the recent news about Tokata’s parents’ allegations against Miller, the actor was arrested twice in Hawaii for a dust-up at a karaoke bar in March followed by an arrest for second-degree assault at a residence a month later, for allegedly throwing a chair at a woman at a private party Miller attended, cutting her forehead. During the first incident, the Hawaii Police Department Hilo Patrol reported that Miller became “agitated” when patrons began singing “Shallow” from A Star Is Born.
“Miller began yelling obscenities and at one point grabbed the microphone from a 23-year-old woman singing karaoke (disorderly conduct offense) and later lunged at a 32-year-old man playing darts (harassment offense). The bar owner asked Miller to calm down several times to no avail.” The actor was arrested, and charged on both offenses with bail set at $500. Bail was provided and Miller was released.
Two days later, the couple who lived with Miller at a hostel filed a restraining order against the actor after Miller returned home from the karaoke bar, and allegedly threatened to “bury” them. Miller reportedly stole the wife’s passport and husband’s wallet. By mid-April, the restraining order was dropped.
An even more disturbing incident happened in April 2020: A video went viral that appeared to show Miller choking a woman and throwing her to the ground at a bar in Reykjavik, Iceland, an incident that occurred after Miller was confronted by pushy fans. Miller was escorted out of the venue.
Born in Wyckoff, NJ, Miller’s career began to grow with a turn on Showtime’s Californication and playing a sociopathic murderous teen in the critically acclaimed Lynne Ramsay movie We Need To Talk About Kevin. Other notable credits followed in The Perks of Being a Wallflower and The Stanford Prison Experiment before Miller landed the role of The Flash in Zack Snyder’s Batman v. Superman. Miller, who displayed a sharp energy and humor, reprised in Justice League. Miller also worked with Warner Bros. in the Fantastic Beasts trilogy as Credence Barebone.
Warner Bros has so far declined to comment on Miller or where these mounting incidents will leave the studio and the actor’s future. Deadline has reached out to Miller’s legal reps and will update should they have any statements about the recent restraining orders against the actor.
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