Freddie Deighton got the chance to talk to the star of Pan (2015), Levi Miller about his new film Streamline. A film about a young, up and coming swimmer who tackles having a convict dad (played by Jason Isaacs) and a test of faith set in suburban Australia. Read on as Freddie and Levi talk about training, his younger self and possible future projects…
Were you much of a swimmer before signing on to this film?
Prior to this, no I wasn't. In Australia, swimming is pretty big, there's pools everywhere. In the schools, there are a lot of swimming programmes but I wasn't massively in to it. But I had to develop that, prior to production, to get more of a form etcetera following that. But no when I was younger I wasn't that in to it.
So how much of the swimming in Streamline is actually you?
A lot of the starting block stuff and a few of the closer shots are a lot of me. But I had a great swimming double, a professional swimmer, who was able to facilitate the more long form stuff that I'd never be able to pull off ever in my lifetime.
So it wasn't you finishing any of the races?
No, no, I wish!
How did you prepare for this role? Was there a lot of training?
I spoke with Tyson (Wade Johnson – the director) a few months before shooting and we spoke about a lot of the physicality stuff because I've never had to dive into the more physical parts of a role before. I do rock climbing as my version of going to the gym so I kind of already had a little bit of conditioning prior to the production. Following that I just got back in the pool and started doing the gym training that professionals do, working the muscles I had to use. That was kind of just to help with the physicality of looking or at least appearing to be in the form of a swimmer which was good for my mentality.
Was there any preparation for the more psychological parts of the film, like all the family stuff?
Yeah a lot of that was conversations between Tyson and I. We'd speak relatively frequently and we'd discuss what we wanted to set up and how we wanted to portray my character. Obviously I'd read the script prior and started those conversations. A lot of it was just discussions and making sure we were on the same page with everything.
Did you have similar conversations with Jason Isaacs over this?
We had actually met a few years before because he was in a film I did in Australia where he played an older version of me (Red Dog: True Blue) – so we were never in any scenes together. We'd met a couple of times and spoken then. I didn't have that much close contact with him during preparation (for Streamline), which I think worked out well for the scenes we have together and the relationship that we worked out. There were a lot of on set conversations but there was nothing too concrete. Most of the preparation was between Tyson and I.
So was Tyson more like your mentor for this whole project?
Yeah obviously the film isn't biographical but a lot of Tyson was very much into swimming when he was younger. So a lot of the mentality stuff I'd actually gather from him and having conversations with him about it really helped. Also we had a professional swimmer on board who was able to help with that as well.
Did you know Tyson before this?
I didn't really no. He sent through the script and we had a good few months of talk before we got to shooting but no I hadn't met him before doing this project.
How did this shoot compare to your experiences on Pan and Wrinkle In Time? Was there a bit of a different atmosphere?
Yeah definitely. Obviously there's a difference in terms of size and scale and the production itself is very different but also character wise. A lot of the roles you take when you're younger are more focused on less physicality and just completely different in a lot of ways. This was the first role where I had a more growing in to sort of thing, a more adult role which was great. But following that, being younger and having those earlier roles was also awesome. But yeah, it was very different.
Was the audition process very different as well?
I didn't actually audition for Streamline, I just had a Zoom call with Tyson. The others ones though definitely were a much longer process.
In terms of working experiences, do you prefer smaller character driven projects like Streamline or would you want to do more bigger budget productions?
I don't think I have a preference to be honest. A lot of it comes down to being on set and whether or not you have the time to flesh out your character and have conversations, that's the most important part to me. Most of the time when you're actually in the moment on set a lot of it feels quite similar across the board whether it's a large scale production or an indie film. It's mainly just the set up to and then finally being on set and being in the moment for it.
Would you say Tyson is the director that you've had the best working relationship with?
Honestly I think a lot of the differences between the ones when I was younger and Tyson is that this time I was a lot more not necessarily engaged in terms of wanting to properly prepare but I was a lot closer to the script and I was very close to Tyson. I was able to have more of those conversations and discuss more. I don't think it's due to different forms of directing, I think it was more on me this time and I was able to flesh out more for myself which perhaps I did when I was younger but you know when you're that age you don't really remember things like that exactly. Like thought processes and stuff but yeah, it being more of an adult role felt quite different.
So you'd say this the first time you've been an adult, per se, in a film?
Yeah a lot of the aforementioned physicality was a big thing. I never really considered that when I was younger, how much having a physical change impacts the mentality going in to a role. Having that in my cards was definitely a game changer. It being a more adult role, I was able to focus more on other aspects whilst having other conversations with Tyson.
Do you see yourself getting more roles where you'll have to work out more in the future?
Yeah I hope so. I hope to start using that more now. Again when I was younger I'd never really considered it but after having done this I'm really looking forward to what the future holds.
Well I think Robert Pattinson's looking for a new Robin, so keep in touch with him.
Streamline releases digitally on April 11th