Living the American Dream
War Dogs' Miles Teller feels lucky that directors are taking a chance on him
In the new war comedy War Dogs, Miles Teller plays pothead massage therapist David Packouz who teams with up his buddy Efraim Diveroli to exploit a little-known government initiative that allows small businesses to bid for US military contracts.
Making an unexpected fortune and living large, they get in over their heads with a US$300 million (S$410 million) contract to arm the Afghan military.
Diveroli ended up serving four years in prison.
Teller, 29, appears for our interview at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills sporting a new blonde hairdo for Granite Mountain, the film he's now shooting.
"It's really not for me," he says with a laugh, when asked how he likes his lighter look. "The response is mixed."
Though he's been labelled a "d***" from an unfortunate profile in Esquire magazine last year, his swagger has more to do with confidence in his undeniable talent.
Did you get to meet the real David Packouz?
I didn't meet David until we were already filming, and really, it was just more making him feel at ease about the whole thing. If that was me, I would be pretty nervous about someone making a film about my life. So we talked about music. He is a guitar player, he invented this thing for guitar amplification, it's like a beat pedal. So we kind of just talked and hung out and that was the research for the movie.
He has a cameo in the film right?
Yeah, he's the guy playing the guitar in the retirement home. He's playing (Don't Fear) The Reaper (by 70s US rock band Blue Oyster Cult) for a bunch of elderly people, which is Todd's (Phillips) sick sense of humour.
Tell us something interesting about the War Dogs shoot.
Everything happened pretty quickly. I was at the Oscars for (the 2014 film) Whiplash and the next morning on a plane to Romania, and then the next day we were filming. So that will always stick with me. You start a movie just jet-lagged and everyone is waking up at two in the morning, and there is a language barrier and you are not entirely comfortable and you start shooting. And we were shooting AK-47 rounds. Morocco, Romania, Miami, Las Vegas, El Centro, Los Angeles... it was like every 10 days, two weeks, we were in a different city and a different part of the world. I probably did more travelling in this film than I have ever done in my personal life.
Your career has really taken off. Do you feel you're living the American Dream?
Yeah, I feel very fortunate. In the beginning, you are just trying to get cast in a movie and you are really just trying to do anything. I went to NYU (New York University), a really good acting programme, and 99 per cent of the people I went to school with either are still trying or they are not really having much success. I am lucky for certain directors to take a chance on me or think that I can do something they haven't seen before. So yes, that American Dream is in there.
How has your life changed?
My life is pretty much the same. If you can take care of your family, that's wonderful, and that is something that I have been able to do. I just bought a house, I am a home owner. It's in Studio City (Los Angeles), and now I know why my dad was outside all the time, because I am looking at gutters and cleaning them.