December 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

Ezra Miller was 14 when he read Stephen Chbosky’s 1999 novel, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Now 20, the actor still recalls his first impression of the book’s kind, openly gay teenager Patrick. “I had this image in my head of this heroic high school kid — the most vivacious and mischievous and proud individual,” he says. Miller brings all of those qualities to life in the movie — and with a greater emotional depth than the icy psycho teen he played in 2011’s We Need to Talk About Kevin. The actor starts shooting Madame Bovary with Mia Wasikowska in 2013. But for now, he’s just relishing Perks. “I think I’m always going to be riding the high of having participated in a movie like this.”

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