It’s no secret that the most anticipated big-budget super hero team-up of the year is hitting theaters soon. What might surprise you, though, is that a third of the members who make up the group – as well as a notorious villain – are representing the Garden State. The DC Extended Universe (DCEU), the unofficial name given to the series of films that share an overarching continuity, is about to “come together” with the release of Justice League on November 17.
The DCEU blockbuster stars New Jersey-natives Ezra Miller, Ray Fisher and Jesse Eisenberg; as well as big name actors such as Ben Affleck and Jason Mamoa. (However, rumors sugggest Eisenberg’s returning role as Lex Luthor Jr. may have been left on the cutting room floor.)
Though Jesse Eisenberg was born in Queens, New York, he moved to East Brunswick as a young child and grew up right here in New Jersey. After a couple of years at East Brunswick High School, Eisenberg transferred to the High School of Performing Arts in New York in pursuit of a career in acting.
Ezra Miller experienced a similar New Jersey upbringing, though he was born and raised in Wyckoff. He found himself in the performing arts early in life, attending the Rockland Country Day School in Congers, New York, as well as the Hudson School in Hoboken. The Camden-born Ray Fisher grew up in Lawnside and attended Haddon Heights High School before beginning his professional acting career.
Miller Sang in the Metropolitan Opera to Overcome a Debilitating Stutter
Miller was born with a stutter, or more specifically a “breathe-line stutter” in which an individual is not breathing in enough air to complete a word. During his first year of school, his kindergarten teacher suggested Miller enroll in opera training. In less than a year, his speech impediment was gone, and he discovered a whole new talent.
By the time he was six-years-old, Miller performed in the United States premiere of Philip Glass’s contemporary opera, White Raven. He continued on to the Metropolitan Opera Children’s Chorus until he was 11.
Ezra Miller Dropped out of High School to Act
Miller attended the Hudson School in Hoboken as a teenager, but after he turned 16, he dropped out to pursue a career in film acting. In an interview with New York Magazine, Miller explained that he decided to drop out of school after having a dream about Ludwig Van Beethoven.
That same year, in 2008, Miller starred in his first feature length film, Afterschool, a drama about an Internet-addicted prep school student who captures the drug overdose of two girls on video.
Miller is the Youngest Actor to Play Barry Allen/The Flash
When Justice League hits theaters on November 17, Miller will be 25-years-old. However, his first credit as the Flash was in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, when Miller was just 23, making him the youngest actor to play a live-action version of the Barry Allen incarnation of the Flash.
The first live-action Flash appeared on the eponymous CBS series starring John Wesley Shipp. At the time of its pilot airing in 1990, Shipp was 35-years-old. The CW revived the Flash franchise in 2014, with 24-year-old Grant Gustin as the Scarlet Speedster. (You could argue that Gustin was actually 23 when he first appeared as Barry Allen in the CW’s Arrow, but since he didn’t have his powers and was not yet the Flash, we have to give this one to Miller.)
Miller is the Drummer and Singer for a New York-based Indie Band
The band’s name is Sons Of An Illustrious Father, and it’s a three-piece experimental rock group based out of Brooklyn, with Miller on percussion, vocals and keys. Each member of the band is a “part-time vocalist,” as they each take turns singing the songs they write. Their lyrics explore an array of social and political issues, and each are melodic and uniquely moving.
The band has been producing music for more than six years now, and despite Miller’s success in Hollywood in recent years, the band has no plans of slowing down. Sons Of An Illustrious Father still performs and writes new material regularly, and you can find the band all over the web.
Jesse Eisenberg is Also a Musician
Much like his Justice League co-star, Eisenberg has been playing the drums since he was eight, and he continues to play them today. He’s no stranger to the music stage and has played the drums live on multiple occasions. In addition to the drums, Eisenberg can also play the piano, which came in handy for his role as Eli Smith, a piano prodigy, in the feature film Why Stop Now?
Eisenberg’s Mother Was a Professional Clown
Her name was Bonabini, and she performed as a professional clown at children’s birthday parties for two decades. Bonabini (whose real name is Amy) wore bright red overalls, two different colored shoes and a multi-colored beanie with a propeller stuck on top. She attached goofy items to her get-up and always kept the children rolling on the floor in laughter or perched at attention.
Eisenberg is a Published Author
Eisenberg has written plays and scripts and has been featured in the New Yorker on multiple occasions, and now he can even add “Published Author” to his résumé, following the release of 2015’s Bream Gives Me Hiccups: And Other Stories. The book of witty short stories showcases the original style of Eisenberg’s emerging literary voice. Eisenberg has even stated that he plans to turn the collection into a Netflix original series.
Eisenberg is a Foster Parent to Homeless Cats
In 2010, Eisenberg appeared on Conan, where he told show host Conan O’Brien he has become a foster parent to homeless cats.
“I have two [cats] now,” he said, “but I’m on a list where they can deliver them to the house… To be a foster parent for cats is basically to have tenants coming in and out.”
Ray Fisher was Introduced to Acting by his English teacher
Fisher has classical training as a theater actor. After he graduated from high school, he attended the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in New York, but it was a former English teacher who encouraged him to follow this path.
During his sophomore year at Haddon Heights High School, Fisher auditioned for a school musical following the backing of his teacher. This ignited his interest in pursuing a career in acting, and by the time he was 24, Fisher played Shakespearean parts and even starred in the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey’s production of Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.
Fisher was Discovered on (off-)Broadway
Fisher was performing as Muhammad Ali in the off-Broadway play, Fetch Clay, Make Man, in 2013; during this time, he was approached by Oscar-winning director Ang Lee to discuss the same part for a film.
This off-Broadway production about the relationship between famous boxer Muhammad Ali and actor Stephin Fetchit (played by K. Todd Freeman) received critical acclaim and jump-started the career of Fisher, who was also one of the finalists for a lead role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, before the part went to John Boyega.
Fisher has been a DC Fan Since he was a Kid
Before being cast as Cyborg in the upcoming Justice League movie, Fisher had absolutely no experience in film acting; which is one reason why the lifelong DC comic fan was excited when he got the part. Another reason is his fondness for the character from the original Teen Titans cartoon series in the early 2000s.
“I was in the middle of high school [when Teen Titans debuted], and I was like, ‘This show speaks to me,’ because there were all of these characters going through these real teen issues while also saving the world,” he said during an appearance at the 2016 Rhode Island Comic Con.
“Once I was cast, though, they send you a whole library of stuff about the character, so I ended up being able to fall in love with the comic book version.”
Fisher Gained 33 Pounds of Muscle for his Role as Cyborg
Even though his character is mostly CG, working out was a priority before the filming of Justice League began. His Instagram page confirms gaining 33 pounds of muscle in preparation for his part.
Honorable Mention: Henry Cavill Auditioned for the Role of Clark Kent in Superman Returns
As it turns out, Henry Cavill is actually a Jersey-native; a native of the original Jersey in the British Isles, that is. Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands and the entity from which New Jersey received its name. Cavill, who may or may not be in the upcoming Justice League movie (how much longer do we have to pretend Superman “died” for?), spent the early part of his life in Jersey before moving to the States to act.
In 2005, Cavill lost the role of Clark Kent to Brandon Routh while auditioning for Superman Returns. Less than a decade later, however, Cavill got to play the big blue boy scout in Man of Steel.
For more information about the Justice League movie, visit the official website.
All Photos: © Warner Bros. Entertainment