Miles Teller has gone from zero to hero in the last few years. With roles in films like Whiplash, Rabbit Hole and The Spectacular Now, Teller has shown an intriguing dramatic side that all but evens out the heap of not-so-inspiring (read: disastrous) broad comedies he’s participated in, take for example 21 and Over and That Awkward Moment. Looking towards the future, Teller has a lot of promise so long as he continues to involve himself in solid project while he’s busy paying the bills with mainstream crud. With The Fantastic Four on the horizon, the only question is how high will Teller’s star rise?
Over the prattle and coos of preteen girls, Teller and I had a chance to chat at the Seattle premiere of his latest, and largest, film yet: Divergent. But we only talked briefly about the YA wannabe sensation, to preference some of his more serious roles. We touched on drumming, the recurring themes of his fledgling career, his trajectory since college and what makes him an all around bad ass.
So I caught Whiplash down at Sundance. Loved the movie, with the way it was edited, you looked like you were just slaying on those drums. So, tell me what you were doing for preparation for that? Have you always played?
Miles Teller: I’ve played for like 10 years, I got a kit when I was like 15. Never played jazz before and then just kinda started taking some lessons, took like lessons for a few weeks, like four hours a day, four times a week.
Obviously some of the stuff you were playing was like off the charts and some of the best drumming, do you have a guy who is like subbing in and you were body doubled?
MT: I did, like I did do pretty much did all of it, you know what I mean? Like, there’s a couple of things, like the director would shoot some stuff for his hands. Like anything that’s like a real close up is probably not me. But, a lot of that is just me crushing it.
Another film that you were great in was The Spectacular Now, and now you’re doing another movie with Shailene Woodley. How is it working with her again and what’s your guys’ relationship?
MT: Yeah, man she’s great, I think she’s a really natural actress, she’s really easy to play off of, but this was easier, I mean in The Spectacular Now we’re like falling in love and I’m like breaking her heart and stuff, and in this movie I just beat her up.
So you get to get your hands on her in a different way in this movie? You wrestle her to the ground, etc.
MT: Yeah, definitely more violent.
So you’re a villain in this. This is obviously your first bad dude role, what was that like?
MT: Yeah, I mean obviously I wanted to make him likeable. That was a big part of it for me. It’s nice playing somebody where I didn’t have to make everyone laugh all the time.
The line for this movie is like, you know, “If you’re different, you’re dangerous…”
MT: You just turned around and read that off the poster.
Yeah, I did… but I’ve read the book like eight times.
MT: Yeah, me too…
What makes you dangerous, what makes you a badass?
MT: I think the mind. I just think if you outsmart somebody. You gotta be a couple steps ahead of the next person. If you’re in control you’re pretty relaxed in the situation. So I’d say relaxation is key.
What got you into acting in the first place?
MT: I did some plays when I was a little kid. And then, I just played sports and played in some bands in stuff. In high school we got a pretty hot drama teacher, so then I was very into drama. One day my best friend who drove me home everyday said “we should audition for this play” and then I got into it for the last two years of high school. And then I went to NYU and spent a lot of money.
You went like right from your senior year to being in the movies, yeah?
MT: Senior year of college. The first movie I booked was this movie called Rabbit Hole, and so I did that. I booked that like two weeks before I graduated.
In a lot of your movies – Rabbit Hole, The Spectacular Now, even Whiplash – you’re always a character who’s involved in a car crash.
MT: Yeah and in real life I was in a car crash.
Is that a little too surreal for you, do people typecast you for those kind of roles?
MT: I don’t think I get cast as a guy who gets into car accidents, I’m just taking all those roles right? It is weird though, it is a theme in my career so far.
That and alcoholism.
MT: So you said you went down to Sundance? Did you get a chance to see any movies down there?
Yeah, I saw about twenty movies. Did you get a chance to see anything?
MT: I didn’t get a chance to see anything. I got to meet Phillip Seymour Hoffman, that was the coolest thing.
You shot 21 & Over here in Washington, over at UW. What did you think of that?
MT: I dug it man, we shot in August, there wasn’t that many kids around. When you’re walking arouatt:nd in a tube sock and there’s like Summer Session going on. It was cool, man, the Square is like Hogwarts, it’s very nice looking.
What did you think of NYU and what kind of advice would you give to young aspiring actors out there?
MT: Yeah, I really loved it. I think, whatever is good for you go for it. I think New York does propel you forward, it is a city where you can’t really just stay stagnant. People are always doing stuff and it inspires you to create. Also, I just think it’s the best city in the world.
Is that where you’re living now?
MT: No, I live in LA now, because that’s where all the things happen at. There’s a lot of TV in New York though.