Is It Time To Reconsider Miles Teller?
Change is in the air, folks. Just this morning we had a little circle of honesty on the Overlord Slack channel. And what emerged was a hard truth to swallow:
Miles Teller isn’t THAT bad.
Ok, look — it’s not a unanimous sentiment. “I HATE HIM SO FUCKING MUCH” was the opinion expressed by one staff member. But several others (including the one that cuts the checks) are willing to cautiously admit that, despite some fairly glaring personality flaws, Miles Teller IS a good actor. He’s been in some good movies! And sure, he’s been in some bad ones — but their badness wasn’t really his fault (Fantastic Four).
Maybe it’s the era we’re living in, but sometimes it’s hard to separate the off-screen persona from the on-screen performance, especially with the younger pool of actors. And in a new Vulture profile, Teller addresses the perception that he’s, you know, “kind of a dick” (to coin the phrase used in completely different, albeit infamous, Miles Teller profile). When asked directly about how that 2015 Esquire cover story affected him, Teller says:
If how that story made me look was how I really was, I’d think I was the biggest douchebag too. The main idea in that story was that Miles Teller doesn’t give a rat’s ass what you think of him. That’s really not true. I absolutely do care what people think about me. But I can’t put much weight into whether the public likes me because the more important thing is that, as an actor, I can truly say that there’s not a single director or actor who I’ve worked with who’d have a bad thing to say about me. I’ve never missed a day of work. I’ve never not known a line. So I feel good about where I am.
In many ways, this profile feels like a conscious course correction from that last one. Teller does relatable things like gush about dogs, and less relatable things like spit tobacco juice during a goddamn interview (as a former publicist, I just can’t with that shit). He admits that he auditioned for that Han Solo movie (which is apparently called Solo: A Star Wars Story?), and name drops famous actors who talk to him at parties. But he also speaks candidly about his aspirations, how he chooses roles, what sort of career he wants in the long run, and his training. Which, FYI, is Method — but presumably not in that used condom/Leto way:
My generation is the one that really experienced the reality-star boom, and there are a lot of people who want to get into acting as a cash grab or a way to be famous. That wasn’t me at all. For me, part of the thrill of being an actor was moving to New York to get training in Strasberg. That’s what I aspired to do. The whole idea of working on acting in a small room, doing memory exercises where you’re sitting in a chair for four hours trying to really feel a coffee cup — that’s the experience I wanted. I really consider acting a high art.
This interview might not convince you that Teller isn’t a dick, necessarily — he certainly still comes off as pretentious, to say the least — but that really doesn’t matter. He’s a professional, and is clearly very thoughtful about his own career. What jumped out at me was that Teller’s views on acting actually dovetail nicely with those recently expressed by acting legend Bill Nighy. He was quoted giving this advice to young actors:
If you’re doing anything, whether it’s a play or a film, learn every single word that you have to say backwards forwards and sideways before you go into a rehearsal room and before you go on a film set. That might sound like an obvious thing, but it’s not currently: there is a fashion for not knowing your lines. It’s been invented by people who don’t want to do their homework, even as a creative choice. You will not become imprisoned by intonations, and therefore it’s a discourtesy to your fellow professionals.
Rehearsal is not the enemy of spontaneity. The idea is the process is you say the lines over and over and over and over and over again until you can give the impression that you’ve never said them before and it’s just occurred to you. That’s the gig.
When I first read Nighy’s words, I thought there was a touch of “get off my lawn!” crankiness to them. But re-reading them in the context of Teller, a young actor who clearly takes pride in his craft, made me appreciate them both a little more. Look, perhaps Teller’s personality is a bit grating (it totally is). But at least he’s not out there trying to be a social media influencer in order to get roles. Maybe he actually DOES care what you think about him — but he cares more about acting like a fucking professional, and I give him credit for that.
And yes, it’s sad that showing up on time and learning your lines (which is, like, the bare fucking minimum expected of an actor) is enough to earn someone praise. But here we are. Get off my lawn.
If for some reason you’re still not convinced that Miles Teller maybe deserves another chance, Dustin pointed out this clip from the Footloose remake that I never watched and whoo boy — when Teller gets into those overalls and starts to shimmy, his likeablility factor fucking SKYROCKETS:
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