Roadside Attractions releases Joe Bell nationwide on July 23rd, 2021.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which was it harder to dive into when it comes to portraying Jadin in Joe Bell: her heart, mind or soul?
Reid Miller: Heart because Jadin was very kind and he was accepting of all people for who they are, even the people who were adversarial toward him. I'm very much not that. If I'm faced with bullying or who's mean to me or who's mean to someone who I care about, I will defend myself for the people that I care about---not to say that Jadin didn't do that, but Jadin did it with love. With a lot of the film being improvised, it was very difficult to keep that side of myself contained. So, through the process of the film, I learned how to better be kind and how to slow down, be patient and actually listen to someone as opposed to letting that inner combat come out. Jadin definitely taught me that, so I feel like Heart was probably the hardest of the three.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I think that part of being human is being sensitive. Sensitivity can also be a strength. Do you agree or disagree?
RM: Yes, absolutely. I also feel like it's way harder to be sensitive than it is to not. Obviously, there's a line when it comes to how sensitive is too sensitive because there is a part where you get too sensitive and it overtakes your rational thought. But there has to be that level of sensitivity and strength where you're able to listen, be patient and take someone in as opposed to using it to allow yourself to overthink and jump to conclusions. So, I definitely think that it's a delicate balance of 50/50 between strength and sensitivity, but you can't have one without the other or else you're not human, like you said.
NYC MOVIE GURU: There's a powerful scene in Joe Bell when Joe and Jadin talk about how we get our values from our parents. Where do you think we get our values from?
RM: I feel like, a lot of the time, we get our values from our parents, but it also depends on how close you are with your parents. For me, I'm very close with my family, so I got a lot of my values from them. There's something to be said about where, depending on your social situation, you'll probably get a lot of your values from people around you. It's something that I feel is very dangerous as well. Because the internet is so prominent, a lot of people, especially younger people, probably younger than me, are getting their values from the internet from people who they see on YouTube or Instagram or whatever social platform that they choose. That's why I think that it's so important that films like Joe Bell are out there because it instills, I think, good values and instills multiples lessons about tolerance, understanding one another, about the effects of bullying, and about how you say what you say and what you say to who because words are so powerful.
NYC MOVIE GURU: I believe that bullies are weak and cowardly. It takes strength to be decent. What do you think? Do you agree?
RM: Yes. It's easier to be mad than sad. It's easier to be mean than it is to be understanding. If you meet someone who you just don't like for one reason or the other, it's a lot easier to treat them horribly than it is to treat them with love and kindness. That's a testament to Jadin's strength that he was able to do that, especially in the face of adversity.
NYC MOVIE GURU: If Jadin Bell were still alive today, what questions would you ask him? What would you say to him?
RM: I'd ask him, "How did you do it? How were you so kind? Who in your life do you feel was really there for you vs people who just said they were there for you and they weren't? And how did you know that they weren't there for you?" A lot of people say a lot of things, but don't act on it. So, I'd probably ask him those things and tell him that I would be there for him because he seems like such an incredible person that anyone would be lucky to have him in their life.
NYC MOVIE GURU: It's amazing how powerful and healing art can be.
RM: Absolutely, especially music.
NYC MOVIE GURU: How do you feel that the advancement of modern technology affects the quality of human relationships? How are emojis and texting not dehumanizing?
RM: I think it is dehumanizing. That's the thing that sucks. Relationships are very dominated nowadays by social media and by who's dating who. No one has any privacy nowadays. I feel that that is absolutely dehumanizing. It could also ruin relationships. Snapchat used to have this option called Snapscore where you can look at someone that you're friends with and see what their Snapscore is. If you Snap other people a lot, you get a higher Snapscore. So, you would be able to go on there and if there's something that you like or someone that you're dating, you could look at their Snapscore and see if they're Snapping people other than you. Like, how toxic is that? It's incredibly toxic. If we only had letters and phone calls, that would make it so much simpler.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which fictional character from books or movies do you imagine Jadin getting along with?
RM: The only person who I can think of as a generally good person would be like Captain America because that's who I'd like to hang out with. He just seems like he's probably pretty wise. For me, at least, he seems like someone who would be able to give me some good advice, especially when it comes to bullies. His whole thing is bullies which is why I like that character so much.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Do you think that there's an unfair expectation in society for men to avoid crying? What's wrong with crying? Can crying be a strength?
RM: As a man, I can say among men, there is certainly this weird expectation to not cry and not be emotional. I don't know where it came from. I'm very lucky that I've been able to surround myself with other guys like me who don't think that way and are able to be vulnerable with each other and honest about anything that's going on. I've certainly had friends in the past that are very much not the type of people to have those conversations with because they just don't feel that way. It's hard because, in a relationship, that can affect how men act with their significant other, man or woman. It can really affect how they emote, how vulnerable they are, and what they're willing to talk about with their significant other. I think that that's a real shame. I also hope that people are able to watch Joe Bell and more sensitive people, guy or girl, and see somebody on a big screen be so vulnerable, yet so strong, which is what Jadin represented to me. He had that ability to be absolutely vulnerable, yet still stand completely strong in his beliefs. I feel like people get those two confused. You can't have one without the other. You can't be strong and cry, but you can't cry and be strong, and that's complete BS. That's not how that works. I hope that people are able to watch at least my performance and see Jadin and maybe get something out of that.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Which movie do you think would pair well with Joe Bell in a double feature?
RM: Of course, a bunch of A24 indie movies are coming to my head. I definitely feel like I could see something like Beautiful Boy going along with it. That movie is immensely powerful and it's about father/son relationships. So, I feel like those two would go well together. In terms of story, they're very different and the type of relationship is very different, but it's still about a father trying to understand his son.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What about Harold & Maude?
RM: Yeah! That's a great one. I just watched that movie, actually, for the first time a few months ago. I was so into it. I was like, "This is so odd, but I like it."
NYC MOVIE GURU: I think Jadin would get along with Harold and that Maude would be able to help Jadin like she helped Harold. What do you think?
RM: I definitely agree.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What do you think is the purpose of suffering?
RM: The purpose of suffering, at least for me, and this is just my 2 cents in it, is that if you don't suffer, you never grow. I believe that everything always happens for a reason. A lot of things have happened to me, and I've changed tremendously because of those things that have happened to me. I'm glad that those things happened because I learned from it, I grew, and I'm a better person because of it. Everyone is going to view that differently. Not everyone's going to have the same opinion. I obviously wish that I hadn't suffered with some of the things that I have suffered, but it's also life. I feel like suffering makes you stronger, teaches you perseverance and patience and, more importantly, humbles you. At least, for me, those are a few of the reasons.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What song would you suggest to Jadin to listen to for inspiration to nourish his heart, mind and soul?
RM: The song "Wiseblood" by Zola Jesus. It's about using the things that have hurt you in the past to make you stronger and if you don't get hurt and get stronger, then what's the point? There are a lot of songs that say that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger, but this song says that if you don't take a risk and you don't allow those things to happen and get stronger from it, then what's the point of doing anything? I feel like that's something that I would recommend because that song has helped me in the past. There are many others, but that one in particular, recently, is one that I've been listening to.