Here’s the thing: I love “Perks of Being a Wallflower.” It is a great movie. It is poignant and funny and delves into how teenagers think and act and deal. Patrick, played by Ezra Miller, is clearly the most fun person in the world (fellow “Perks”-fan girls know what I’m talking about) … so when I got offered the chance to cover the SBIFF Virtuoso Awards on Jan. 29, I was more than down, seeing as Miller was one of the six awardees.
And guess what? Ezra Miller is even funnier and more delightful in person! I didn’t even know that was possible.
Here’s a synopsis of our 5 minutes of blissful chatter:
Audrey Bachelder: (totally freaking out, that is EZRA MILLER RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME) Hello Ezra.
Ezra Miller: (totally composed and confident, super suave) Hello there. Where are you from?
AB: (still freaking out, reminding myself to relax, be a professional c’mon Audrey) I’m a reporter for UCSB.
EM: Oooh that sounds like a fun place.
AB: (HE THINKS MY PLACE IS FUN!) It is! I love it. I’m studying unofficial journalism.
EM: Woah. Unofficial journalism? What does that mean?
AB: Well, we don’t have journalism at Santa Barbara, so —
EM: So you’ve carved out your own major? Nice. That shows good motivation!
AB: (severely blushing, getting real red) Thank you! So I just want to say that I loved the movie so much … and Patrick was the funnest, most spontaneous person, like you just want to be his best friend—
EM: Oh I do! I want to be his best friend.
AB: (me too! I want to be his best friend. Or yours …) In the movie everything about Patrick seems so authentic, does your real personality match up with Patrick’s or what were you like in high school?
EM: I was definitely trying to rebel to make it bearable for me and we have that commonality, but Patrick is like a social superhero, and I was never on that level of being such an inspiring kid. [The kind] who inspire you to break the wrong rules. I think Patrick has a leg up on me.
AB: (awestruck, what a great answer, he used commonality, what a great word) So you weren’t a rule breaker in high school?
EM: Oh no! I was certainly a rule breaker but it wasn’t righteous and justified. Like I cut class because I was lazy … nothing as heroic as standing up for the younger kid who’s getting bullied by the teacher, ya know.
AB: Absolutely … can I ask you a random question? Like what is your favorite color?
EM: Aha! My favorite color is the place where red and black meet. I guess that’s two colors. Is that cheating?
EM: Okay well then if I had to choose it’d be red. But there’s something so aesthetically pleasing to me about red and black together …
AB: (Now we are taking a picture together.)
AB: (My favorite color is red, too.)
AB: (We should probably be best friends now.)
Needless to say, my Virtuoso Awards experience was off to a jumpy start. I froze my butt off outside the Arlington Theater and felt the severe repercussions of drinking coffee right before interviewing famous people who you are enthralled with.
My jitters kept going right through all of the onstage interviews and peaked when I realized that directly to my right was the one and only Christopher Walken. He was texting on his phone throughout the whole show and I debated on whether or not I would pass him a note asking “Do you need more cowbell?” for a solid hour but then chickened out when he started noticing me sneaking peeks at him. I really wanted to snap a picture to send to my dad but I figured it’d be awkward to shove a camera in his face when he was mid-text. I did, however, get a picture of him taking a picture of the Virtuosos holding their awards, so that’s something.
So let’s get back to the actual award ceremony. The six SBIFF Virtuosos of 2013 are Ann Dowd, Elle Fanning, Ezra Miller, Eddie Redmayne, Omar Sy and Quvenzhane Wallis. I can honestly say that they were some of the most down-to-earth actors and actresses that could have been compiled onto the Arlington stage.
Ann Dowd was funny, telling the audience that “Compliance” — a thriller based on a real life case of a prank caller who convinced a McDonald’s manager to strip search her employee — is most definitely not a date movie. Dowd explained that the emotional and mental manipulation it explores made her reevaluate things in her own life.
Elle Fanning, though quite young, was scarily mature, which was reflective of her character in the movie “Ginger and Rosa,” who has to deal with the fact that her best friend is sleeping with her father. She was 12 when she auditioned for the part of Ginger and loved the fact that her hair was dyed red for the part.
Ezra Miller was entertaining as anything. He spoke about how his “Rocky Horror” scene in “Perks of Being a Wallflower” allowed him to unleash the monster within himself. Ever since his older sister — who is terrified of intensity and hasn’t seen any of his previous movies — accidentally played the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” while babysitting, he has sneakily watched it whenever parents aren’t looking.
Eddie Redmayne was very composed and talked about how his audition for “Les Misérables” was the equivalent to a horrible American Idol style nightmare. Redmayne does not have freckles in real life and is so undeniably British that he would randomly insert “Oh, buggart!” into his speech. He also discussed how in order to make each song its own opera he would swing from lampposts and give it his all. Swoon.
Omar Sy of “The Intouchables” explained in his beautiful French accent that he never went to acting school; he just took life school. When asked if he would ever consider doing an American role, he said, “Maybe. But I’d have to work on my English!”
Quvenzhane Wallis was hilarious. She came up to the stage in a purple dress and a fluffy pink poodle purse and explained that she had just wanted to try acting when she tried out for “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” At nine years old, she is the youngest ever Oscar-nominated Best Actress. She said that she would love to be her character Hush Puppy in real life, but she would appreciate it if Hush Puppy wore pants more often.
At the end of what was a truly charming Awards show, all six Virtuosos were brought back onstage and stayed a couple of extra minutes for fans to take pictures. Christopher Walken was among the fans. My jittery, coffee-crazed, electrifyingly cold first SBIFF award experience was a definite perk to my week and I highly recommend the awards for anyone who wants to experience an Oscars-like night of splendor right here in Santa Barbara.
Now go watch “Compliance,” “Ginger and Rosa,” “Perks of Being a Wallflower,” “Les Misérables,” “The Intouchables” and “Beasts of the Southern Wild” and catch this year’s virtuosos in action.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of February 7th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.