Exclusive: Miles Teller on His Most Physically Demanding Role Ever

And his 30th birthday plans

Miles Teller
Miles Teller. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge for Patrick McMullan).

It wasn’t easy to get ahold of Miles Teller throughout his whirlwind tour promoting his newest indie flick, Bleed for This, which premiered earlier this week. A week ago I watched him swan through the film’s Cinema Society & Men’s Fitness after-party at Ascent Lounge, where he was consumed with congratulations, and again just a few days later at a party thrown by Magna Entertainment at the Metrograph theater. He was, and remains to be, a man in demand.

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If this rigorous schedule isn’t evidence enough, it’s easy to see that Teller is no longer “on the rise,” but he has, in fact, risen thanks to his innate talent that adapts from romantic comedy to dramatic tragedies and even children’s cartoons. He already has another four films slated for release next year including the anticipated Thank You for Your Service and another installment in the hit Divergent franchise, this time entitled Ascendant.

“It’s script by script,” Teller said when I got ahold of him for 10 minutes over the phone. He was in the car between appearances in Los Angeles, after having retuned from another premiere in Las Vegas the evening before. “I’ve always kept an interest in dramatic movies, but I think as you get older you’re given characters with a lot more responsibility and the stakes get a little higher. I think it’s a pretty natural evolution.” The evolution is visible in Bleed for This, executive produced by Martin Scorsese, in which Teller stars as boxing legend Vincent “Vinny Paz” Pazienza, who made a triumphant comeback following a devastating car crash.

Martin Scorsese, Miles Teller, Ben Younger, Katey Sagal, Vinny Paz=
Martin Scorsese, Miles Teller, Ben Younger, Katey Sagal, Vinny Paz. (Photo by Paul Bruinooge for Patrick McMullan).

With a relatively modest budget of $6 million, Teller filmed his role in just 24 days, though the preparation took much longer. “The training was about eight months between when I got cast and when I started filming,” he explained. “I had to film two movies during that time period too, but I was dieting and working out for about eight months with Gary Kobat, then I had about five weeks with my boxing coach, Darrell Foster. So, by the time I got to the Bleed for This set in November, I had lost 20 pounds and gotten down to 6 percent body fat, and then, once we started filming, I had to gain 15 pounds because Vinny jumped up in weight class, so we needed to show that.”

All filming took place in Providence, Rhode Island, the home of the real Vinny Pazienza. “Filming where the story actually took place gives it this authentic sort of texture,” Teller said of his time spent there. “We didn’t have to build anything. We were just able to film right down the street from where Vinny lives now.” This meant working with over 8,000 unpaid extras from the area to film the boxing scenes, though Josh Sason, CEO and founder of the investment groups behind the film, Magna Entertainment, also stood in and recalled Teller’s magnetism and devotion to his character. “When we signed on, Miles was already attached,” Sason said at the Metrograph following a Q&A session. “He’s one of the primary reasons we signed onto the project. I believe that he’s among the best actors of our millennial generation, and he proved that on this film—from the way he prepared, to his execution on camera in the role.” 

Up next for Teller is, he hoped, some free time. “I haven’t had any off time this year yet, but it should be coming up,” he said. “We’ve been promoting this film since Telluride, which was in September. We’ve gone everywhere from the Savannah Film Festival in Georgia to South Korea. I mean, we’ve been all of the place with his thing. I’ve got a lot of SkyMiles, and we’ve reached a lot of audiences, but I’m looking forward to the holidays. For New Year’s, my buddies and I are going to rent a house in the mountains for a few days, and a bunch of us are turning 30 around the same time in February, so we’re going to rent a house in Mexico and have a little fiesta down there.”

Miles Teller, Keleigh Sperry
Miles Teller, Keleigh Sperry. (Photo by Angela Weiss for Getty Images).

Exclusive: Miles Teller on His Most Physically Demanding Role Ever