Actor, magician from Orange wants to be 'guy next door'

ORANGE >> When actor Steven Miller is around, magic usually happens.

Miller, 35, a magician who specializes in sleight-of-hand card tricks, and juggling, is that guy who has appeared in so many local commercials and dozens of movies that if you see him on the street, he will likely look familiar, but you may not be sure why.

And that’s just what he’s going for.

“I’d like to be that guy people recognize, but they don’t know his name,” Miller said. “I’m relatable. … You want to be the guy next door.”

Miller, an Amity High School graduate, and trained actor, came upon his profession in an accidental way when he herniated a disc in his back while bowling at age 15.

Miller had a long recovery and couldn’t play sports, so he was looking for a way to occupy his time. An uncle who was a magic hobbyist piqued Miller’s interest in the field, so he visited Tannen’s Magic store in New York City and that was it.

“My whole life changed,” he said. “The magic and juggling are my niche.”

Soon he attended Tannen’s Magic Camp — where he would go for the next four summers, immersed in magic class, lectures, and often visits from the greats. Guests at Tannen’s have included David Copperfield, David Blaine, Criss Angel. According to his resume, balls, clubs, rings, knives, torches. Later, he became a counselor, a gig he’ll do again this summer.

He “got the acting bug,” Miller said, after getting a part in an Amity High School play that required juggling. More local and regional acting roles would follow.

Miller moved to Los Angeles to pursue his career and landed many movie roles, some small parts and many supporting roles, including his big break at age 30 in the Lifetime Movie, “Last Hours in Suburbia,” for which he still gets royalties.

Other movies in which he’s played supporting roles, include: “The Spirit Of Christmas Charles,” “Dark Pledge Officer Smith,” “Deep In The Darkness Sam Harper,” “Dark Haul Jimmy.”

He’s played a cop, a college kid, a SWAT team member, a jealous brother.

“It’s all about persistence — you can’t give up,” he said.

In 2007, he left Los Angeles and returned home to Orange when a family situation arose that could benefit from his help. It turned out to be a great move, Miller said, because living in Connecticut allows him to work the New York City and Boston acting markets.

“Sometimes, it’s better being a bigger fish in a smaller pond,” he said.

Some of his television commercials include: Cumberland Farms — he’s the construction worker filling a bunch of cups with coffee; Dunkin Donuts; Coors Light; distracted driving; White’s Plumbing; Union Savings Bank; Nissan.

Debbie Chasen, of Chasen Talent Agency, said Miller works hard to achieve what each individual client is looking for and with his magic and juggling, does many dramatic roles, but is especially talented with comedic roles and general entertaining.

“He’s a very personable guy — my clients love working with him,” Chasen said. She said he’s also always willing to “go above and beyond,” to entertain for the benefit of charities.

In many cases, those early skills honed at camp have served him well, including in movie roles.

“It’s amazing how the acting and juggling have opened doors,” he said.

Magic, he said, is, “the best ice-breaker ever.”

“When you make something disappear, no matter what language you speak,” it’s amazing, Miller said. “You can go from zero to hero in a matter of seconds with a deck of common cards.”

Plus, he likes to make people happy.

“If I can get someone to forget about their problems for five minutes, I’ve done my job,” he said.

In the footsteps of his father, Harold Miller, a leader in B’nai B’rith International, a worldwide helping organization, Miller also is always willing to use his talents to help a charity or other good cause. His mother, Bobbie Miller, is a counselor at Amity Middle School in Orange.

“As much fun as it is to get paid for what you do, when you give back, the look on people’s faces is worth it,” Miller said.