When Amiah Miller picked up Emma Needell's script for David Oyelowo's The Water Man, she was touched by the empathy to story had. The young actor plays Jo Riley, a friend of the main character Gunner Boone (Lonnie Chavis). I spoke to the star about the film's relatability, working with Oyelowo and her co-stars, and its heartfelt message. "When I first read the script, I was most excited about was how anyone can relate to one of the characters, whether it be what Gunnar is going through with his mom and his dad," Miller said. "Whether it be Jo and her home life or one of the parents, It's such a good family movie that everyone can learn from and relate to. That's what I was most excited about." The Anastasia star had nothing but the best things to say about her director and co-star who plays Amos Boone. "[David] is truly such a brilliant director and just an all-around lovely person. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him. I'm so grateful that he chose me, especially for his directorial debut. I'm truly so honored and we have a very special bond."
The film follows Gunner as he sets out on a quest to save his ill mother (Rosario Dawson) by searching for a mythic figure who possesses the secret to immortality, the Water Man. After enlisting the help of a mysterious local girl, Jo, they journey together into the remote Wild Horse forest — but the deeper they venture, the stranger and more dangerous the forest becomes. Their only hope for rescue is Gunner's father (Oyelowo), who will stop at nothing to find them and in the process will discover who his son really is. "Working with Lonnie was so incredible," Miller said. "He's such a talented actor and a genuinely good person. We still talk all the time and he's like a little brother to me. I only had one scene with [Rosario] and I wish we would have could have had more. She is so talented and nice. I was actually blown away by how kind she was and I hope I can work with her again. I think everyone that was a part of this film was so lovely. They couldn't have been any better and I couldn't have had a better experience." Working within the fantasy genre comes with the potential hazards of stunt work and otherwise extreme situations.
"The most difficult scene was when the bugs are on Gunnar and Jo," Miller recalled. "At least to film, because having to scream all day and react to that was challenging to my voice. I went on for so long you couldn't even hear me when I was speaking. It was completely gone. That was the most challenging scene. It ended up being one of my favorite scenes of the film. It just goes to show that the greatest challenges have the biggest rewards. I love that scene."
While filming took place before the pandemic, Miller had some of her fondest memories of her short career on set. "The biggest takeaway I got which I think would be similar to the audience's biggest takeaway is that love conquers all," she said. "We should never take our loved ones for granted and just enjoy the time that we have with them. That's something that I never really realized. When I did, I didn't pay much attention to it. Because of this film, I truly live in the moment and love everyone around me. I am guilty of taking some people for granted, just like Gunnar was guilty of taking his mom. That's what I've learned is that life is so important and amazing and we just have to cherish it while we're here." The Water Man from RLJE Films and co-executive produced by Oprah Winfrey also stars Alfred Molina and Maria Bello. Check out our interview with Chavis here.