The fear isn’t so much her concern over a loss of privacy in this social media-crazy world or trepidation about the places she’s visited as the global ambassador for the International Medical Corps. The fear she feels comes from each and every acting job she does.
That’s a lot of fear considering the 35-year-old has been acting since 2001, and it continues through her latest work in “The Lost City of Z.” Miller plays Nina Fawcett, the wife of British explorer Percy Fawcett who in the early part of the 20th century made several trips to South America looking for a lost civilization.
Nina didn’t have to brave the unknown in the jungles but she had to find the inner strength to sit at home for years waiting to hear if her husband had been successful or had been killed.
Miller plays Nina as a woman with a great deal of courage.
“The courageousness in her was something I was really drawn to,” Miller says. “I think she was an incredibly formidable and brave woman. There is something very feminist about her although on paper she could have been just the wife left home with the children.
“She has a spirit I wanted to play. She never asks for pity but is stoic and brave. I think bravery is quite a beautiful thing to see in films.”
Miller has played many characters who must find a courage to move forward. She earned critical praise for her portrayal of fallen socialite Edie Sedgwick in “Factory Girl” and as the wife of fallen military hero, Chris Kyle, in “American Sniper.”
Miller earned a Golden Globe and BAFTA TV awards nominations for her work as Tippi Hedren in “The Girl.”
Those roles reflect how Miller is attracted to characters who face monumental challenges. The demands of the roles have been so big that Miller has to dig deep to find the courage she needs to take on the parts.
“Every film requires me to find the courage to play the role,” Miller says. “I find it increasingly difficult to do this job. I find it more and more taxing. It takes more out of me.
“I use to be more frivolous. I could just pop in and have fun. I find now you open yourself in ways that makes you very vulnerable. It can be exploitative unless you are in safe hands.”
The only way Miller can play a character is to give a little of herself to the performance. While she’s in the moment playing the role, she’s resentful for what the work has cost her. That eases the further she gets away from the project and only then can she fully appreciate what she learned from face the challenges.
What she generally finds is that people are generally moved by her work and that is very gratifying.
The fear increases when Miller takes on a part based on a real person. Miller is driven by a need to “look into the soul” of roles based on real people so that she can do them justice. It doesn’t matter if that real person is as well-known as Hedren or on the fringes of history like Nina Fawcett.
As passionate as Miller is about acting, don’t turn to Twitter to gauge her feelings. Despite constant pressure, Miller has not given in to opening herself online.
“I just feel reluctant to engage in it,” Miller says revealing another fear in her life.