Stephen King has created some wild characters over the course of his career, but few compare to Donald Elbert a.k.a. The Trashcan Man in The Stand. A schizophrenic pyromaniac who finds himself roaming an near-empty world thanks to his immunity from the Captain Trips virus, his entire arc in the book is basically about just letting his freak flag fly and giving in to every psychotic impulse that his id produces. Thanks to Trashy’s extreme eccentricities, there is extreme curiosity abound about how he will be portrayed in the new adaptation hitting CBS All Access, and based on what producers Benjamin Cavell and Taylor Elmore have to say about the performance from actor Ezra Miller we should be in for one hell of a show.
During the virtual press day for The Stand earlier this month I had the opportunity to ask the two filmmakers about what fans can expect from Ezra Miller’s Trashcan Man, and they painted one hell of a picture. According to them, the DC Extended Universe star held nothing back in his performance, having wanted to play the role ever since he first read the book when he was younger, and personally contributed greatly to the construction of the character. Said Taylor Elmore of their conversation with him when the production offered the role,
He literally said to us on the phone call when we had the meeting, 'Will you be Trashcan Man?' and he said the words, 'Trashcan Man is not a pyromaniac. Trashcan Man is pyromania.' And we were like, 'Ok, you're on that. You get this.'
After that point, Ezra Miller essentially went method with the performance, with Elmore saying that he wasn’t sure “how often I really met Ezra after that.” Even when the cameras weren’t rolling the actor apparently kept up his Trashcan Man energy, and while that certainly must have been strange for the filmmakers and Miller’s co-stars, the effort was appreciated. Said the producer,
We met Trashcan Man. And that was chaotic. He was a handful in a great way. I mean, it was just like exactly the way this guy would be.
It wasn’t just about Ezra Miller fully committing to the totally fried personality of Trashcan Man either, as there were also some… choices made about how the character would be presented sartorially. The Stand co-creator Benjamin Cavell explained that one of the key contributions that the actor made to the look of the character was making the decision that he would wear next to nothing.
Under most circumstances this wouldn’t have been a big deal, as one could definitely make a solid argument that it’s a direction that lines up with who Trashcan Man is. And the producers apparently didn’t balk at that side of the equation. What did give them some pause, however, was simple concern for Ezra Miller’s well being given the fact that the show wasn’t exactly filmed in the warmest conditions. Cavell explained,
He had said from the beginning he's gonna wear underwear and his kind of tactical web gear, and nothing else. And it was like, 'Well, okay, but we're shooting in Vancouver and then we're going to the desert four hours outside of Vancouver. It's going to be literal... That is the Tundra! That's not like the Tundra. You're not going to be cold?' But it's like, 'Well, Trash wouldn't be cold.' 'Okay!' What do you say?
There are surely a lot of performers who would instantly regret such a decision when they found themselves standing in out in a cold wasteland wearing next to nothing, but apparently Ezra Miller’s name isn’t included on that particular list. The producers continued,
Benjamin Cavell: And, by the way, I never once heard him say, all those days we spent shooting in Ashcroft and Kamloops and all these crazy parts of the desert north of Vancouver, and never once did I hear him say he was cold. He was naked in his web gear in 30 degree weather, 20 degree weather with winds blowing...
Taylor Elmore: Shrieking and barking, and then saying 'Bumpty bump.'
Are you now as excited to see Ezra Miller’s incarnation of The Trashcan Man as we are? Well, there is some slightly bad news on that front – specifically that fans are going to need to exercise a bit of patience alongside their anticipation. Because of the amount of story that needs to be set up in The Stand, Stephen King’s loopiest pyromaniac won’t be introduced on the show until the sixth episode of the season, titled “The Vigil” (which is scheduled to air on January 21, 2021). We’ll be counting down the days here on CinemaBlend, but during that time we’ll also continue providing you with plenty of exclusive content, so stay tuned in the weeks to come!